Moving Haiti Forward: The Madan Sara Dream
This blog is courtesy of Etant Dupain, Director and Executive Producer of Madan Sara
My documentary, “Madan Sara: The Power of Haitian Women”, was inspired by a moving conversation I had with my mother where she explained the sacrifices she made to provide a better life than she had for me and my siblings. Throughout my childhood, my mother, Rose Marie, traveled across Haiti as a Madan Sara in the face of serious challenges and risks such as rape and theft. ‘Madan Sara’ are women who work diligently to buy, distribute, and sell food and other essentials in street markets throughout Haiti. My mother’s desire stretched beyond providing an education for her children to include assisting the future generation of Haitians. This film is a true depiction of her hard work and sacrifice.
As a journalist covering politics and economic development in Haiti, I saw firsthand how local and foreign law makers overlooked one of the most crucial elements of the Haitian society. Despite facing intense hardship and social stigma, the efforts of the Madan Sara provided education, shelter, and health care access for their families. Seeped in the culture of lakou, Madan Sara may be the most successful network of local food distribution (moving from farms to markets) that has ever existed in Haiti. This network, largely led by women, is a centuries-old practice that has become a cultural centerpiece in Haitian households.
Telling the Madan Sara story means telling my story, and the stories of tens of thousands of other Haitians throughout the country and around the world. Marie Maguine Loussaint of FINCA Haiti is one such person, whose life is attached to the Madan Sara legacy.
Marie Maguine Loussaint
Born and raised in Les Cayes, Haiti, Marie Maguine watched her mother work as a Madan Sara for decades. Her mother’s work as a Madan Sara not only provided for her, but also supported several family members. When Marie Maguine was about 15 or 16 years old, she quickly learned that this was something that not only her mother did, but that most women in the neighborhood did for work as well.
After completing her studies in 2007, Marie Maguine joined FINCA Haiti as a community trainer and credit agent. Marie Maguine recognized that this was not only a career opportunity, but a chance to fulfill her dreams of making a positive impact in her community.
Today, Marie Maguine works with a variety of FINCA clients across the country. She witnessed her mother work as a Madan Sara for decades with minimal aid from local and national authorities or international non-governmental organizations. Marie Maguine’s personal experiences underlined the necessity of external assistance and support for the Madan Sara.
Marie Maguine was recently promoted and is now a regional director at Finca Haiti where she will continue to assist hundreds of Madan Sara, fulfilling a life-long dream. I wrote an article six years ago that created the framework for the Madan Sara documentary, promising to examine the lives of Madan Sara. Because both of our lives are the fantasies of the Madan Sara who raised us, I can see my story through Marie Maguine’s when we work together.
Amplifying the Voices of Women at the Heart of Haiti’s Informal Economy
Over 20,000 of FINCA Haiti clients are Madan Sara, and FINCA is committed to formalizing the Madan Sara sector by offering financial services and credit access to these tenacious women entrepreneurs. While it has been uncommon for a Madan Sara to walk into a traditional bank and ask for a loan due to a fear of being turned down, FINCA has provided these women living in underserved communities with financial education and other financial services to improve the quality of life for themselves and their families. Despite the hardships that the country and its people face, such as natural disasters and political upheaval, I have no doubt that the Madan Sara community will continue to inspire generations to come.
For more information and to register to host or attend a screening, visit www.finca.org/MadanSaraFilm.
Watch the Madan Sara trailer for a closer look at the lives of the Madan Sara.