Stories of Change

Top: Wilda Fortilus and her aloe vera soap. Middle: Carnette Darius and her aloe vera soap. Bottom: Melida Charles and her aloe vera jam

Creating New Opportunities with Aloe Vera

What comes to mind when you think about aloe vera? Perhaps you think of that one painful sunburn you got recently, or maybe you think back to summers you spent outside as a child. For our program participants in Haiti, this slimy green plant represents relief during difficult times and hope for a better and more stable future. 

Through our local partners, we hosted a series of training sessions to teach members in small communities in Haiti, how to create soap using aloe vera. Wilda Fortilus, who lives in Pichon with her husband and four children, attended these training sessions. Before attending the training session on aloe vera, Wilda didn’t know there were multiple uses for aloe vera. Now, Wilda learned how to convert aloe vera into soap and learned about its medicinal uses. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Wilda’s family has been struggling to generate a stable income. Her new business has allowed her and her family to get back on their feet. She explained, “this is the only business activity in our household, which helps us in these moments. Thank you.”

Carnette Darius, another program participant, lives in nearby Fond Saint Luc with her son and husband. She shared, “this activity works well for me. On average, I sell 6 gallons per week…I make a good profit with this activity.” Carnette was able to use the income she made from selling soap to buy chickens. She hopes to expand her sales and eventually sell her soap at the local market. 

In Sou Mòn, Melida Charles learned about another use for aloe vera: jam! After attending training sessions on how to make aloe vera jam, Melida joined a savings group in her community and started her own jam-selling business. Melida told us, “When I have sold everything, I purchase other ingredients to continue to make jam and I participate in a savings group. The training is very useful and important to me.” Mixed with ingredients that include ginger, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, Melida’s delicious jam and participation in a savings group has allowed her to become more financially stable.

By discovering new ways to use aloe vera, these three women have also discovered new ways to support their livelihoods and families. Their participation in savings groups also gives them the opportunity to save money with their neighbors and start their own businesses.

We are thankful for the support of our partners Week of Compassion and Organisation des Planteurs de Fond Saint-Luc pour le Développement Intégré de Baie-de-Henne for making these stories possible.