Joziann's House

Joziann has 4 children, but only the two girls live with her. Her oldest son lives with his father in Port au Prince. Another son lives with his dad in Nankafe, about a 40 minute walk away. (It's not uncommon for a son to stay with his father after parents separate.)

A year or so ago, Joziann left her home in Nankafe and returned to her parents' because her husband started seeing someone else. Now the “ex” is quite ill and he wants her back, but, despite considerable pressure from the community, Joziann is saying “No way.” She’s comfortable here, her parents need her, the girls are happy—and she’s building a house. Bit by little bit.

She and the kids have carried all the block and the sand for the cement from a place some distance away. But construction is stalled. Cement and labor cost money and cash is hard to come by in the countryside. Who knows how long it will take before she can live in this house? It will happen, though. She is one determined woman.

It's hard to figure out the economics of my place in the family. The school pays Jozainn a weekly stipend of about $15 US a week to cover the cost of my food. Other "services", like laundry and kerosene are traditionally provided for free. Before Joziann washes my clothes by hand, she carries water a mile uphill on a rocky path. Cash is too scarce for them to be buying anything for me without being reimbursed.

So now I buy my own kerosene and candles, also soap and other supplies that cost money. And I pay the going rate to have my laundry done: about a dollar and a half US per week. Maybe it will help her get her house up faster.

I wonder what I’d expect if a billionaire came to live with me.