Hope, Prayer, and Poverty

Haiti’s women live with violence, destitution–and renewed promise

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.


Like an increasing number of Haitian women, Madame Dentes Delfoart provides much of her family’s income; she sells small quantities of food from a shed in front of her house. But for other women in this densely populated country, sex is one of the few viable commodities. Unprotected intercourse sells for $1.75; a virgin gets $5.

Women’s hopes were raised in 1994, however, with the return of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. In a symbolic move, he recently turned over the Quartier Gnralathe military headquarters where many of the nation’s violent coups were planned–to a ministry for women.

Madame Delfoart, 41, shares her small home with two of their four surviving children and her husband, who grows bananas and potatoes. A Pentecostal, she prays, she says, everywhere and at all times.

MADAME DELFOART: My mother was too poor to send me to school, so my work has always been to do a little selling from my house. Three or four times a week I go to the market to buy the things I sell. I go on my burro, so this takes me all day. Monsieur Delfoart does not sell what he grows in his garden, but if he gets a job he gives me the money. Whatever we have to do, I am the one to do it. It makes me sad that we don’t have any money, because I would really like to renovate my house. But still, my family is not really poor. When we’re fine, we’re fine. When we’re not fine, we’re not fine. I can’t change my life.

I’ve had six babies and lost two; my mother made six and lost three. It is God who gives us children, God who decides these things. I gave birth to all my children in my house, with no doctor–I have never been to a doctor–only my mother. My husband stayed outside and prayed for me.

I’m very happy in my marriage; we take care of each other and support each other, we will love each other for life and die together. He is the only man I admire, the only man I confide in. My life is in his hands.

Go to Russia . . .

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Or at least we hope. It’s fall fundraising time, and we’re trying to raise $250,000 to help fund Mother Jones’ journalism during a shorter than normal three-week push.

If you’re reading this, a fundraising pitch at the bottom of an article, you must find our team’s reporting valuable and we hope you’ll consider supporting it with a donation of any amount right now if you can.

It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you'll agree is worth supporting.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Or at least we hope. It’s fall fundraising time, and we’re trying to raise $250,000 to help fund Mother Jones’ journalism during a shorter than normal three-week push.

If you’re reading this, a fundraising pitch at the bottom of an article, you must find our team’s reporting valuable and we hope you’ll consider supporting it with a donation of any amount right now if you can.

It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you’ll agree is worth supporting.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate