September 18, 2014
Yesterday I went to meet with two of our community managers, Carline and Manouchka. Thinking we'd have another standard meeting - updates, clarifying questions, jokes (Haitians are always prepared to make you laugh), planning marketing events, collecting forms and handing out new ones - but I was in for a pleasant surprise.
Somewhere between scheduling bi-weekly meetings and planning for community events in October, Manouchka told me she had been offered another job. Immediately my heart sunk - in just her first three weeks she had already proven herself a leader and her background knowledge was improving Kouzin Dlo's outreach in Cite Limye more than I could quantify. Besides her self-motivation and unique skills that made her a great community manager for Kouzin Dlo, I couldn't think of replacing her so soon. However, I knew that I could only offer her part-time employment and a full-time job would be an amazing and rare opportunity for her and her family.
To my surprise she quickly said she had decline the offer so she could continue working with Kouzin Dlo and volunteering with Manman Lide. Manouchka explained that she wanted to fulfill her commitment to Kouzin Dlo and learn as much as she could from running the business in her own community. She said she was excited about the new skills she was learning and felt that she was a part of something important. Carline echoed her sentiments, adding that what motivates her to keep trying new ways to sell chlorine and spread the word about Kouzin Dlo isn't the salary, it's the necessity of what we offer to individuals and communities.
The caveat...They both requested that Kouzin Dlo provide official certificates, probably at the 6 month or 1 year mark, showing the skills that they learned and describing the work that they do for the business. I told them that would be a perfect project for my time in the US.
As I rush through my last week here in Haiti before a 2 week break in the US, this was exactly the encouragement that I needed. When you sit at the drawing board miles away from implementation it's easy to have lofty goals and high expectations. On the ground you can sometimes start to feel like you can barely keep up with the hiccups and problem solving. Then there are rewarding moments where you realize that the big picture and the day to day are adding up, most of the time in ways you couldn't have planned or imagined.