Francia from Haiti grew up wanting to be a nurse but she was unable to afford the tuition fees. With the income generation training and small business loan Francia received through Compassion, she opened her own hairdressing salon. It was a strong stepping-stone, and with a lot of hard work, her hope of becoming of nurse came within her reach.

Francia’s mother died giving birth to her younger sister in the Dominican Republic, and she grew up living with her aunt Chantale and her two cousins in a neighbourhood in Port-au-Prince.

Francia continued to have a relationship with her father, Andrélien. Listening to her father talk about his experience in business led her to start her own microbusiness at just 12 years old.

“I have always been impressed by my dad’s positive experience in doing business. My childhood dream was to go to university after graduating from high school [to study nursing],” says Francia. “I decided to take some simple goods to sell at school, mostly snacks and some fancy decorative stickers that I bought with my savings [to help save for my university education]. My classmates liked it and I made a small profit.”

Three years later, Francia started selling clothing and underwear and was making a 20 per cent profit. Despite having planned to save her earnings to pay for university, she had to use the money to travel to her father’s beside during his illness before he passed away.

After missing out on a national university scholarship grant, Francia started taking English classes and began selling cosmetics. The 2010 Haiti earthquake stalled her dreams once more as her commercial activities stopped bringing in income.

Hope came when she signed up for income generation training at the Compassion child development centre she had attended since she was six. After finishing the course, Francia submitted a business plan to her trainers and was thrilled when she received a loan to start her business.

“With the money granted to me, I rented a studio to start a beauty salon,” says Francia. “I put on the shelf some of my cosmetic products for customers to buy. The profit I was making out of this business was enough to pay for my studies at a private nursing school.”

Running her own salon and studying nursing was a lot to take on, but her entrepreneurial spirit and perseverance paid off. Four years later, at the age of 24, Francia achieved her dream of becoming a nurse. When other doors were closed, God opened a window of hope.

“It’s just the beginning as I am still waiting on God to reveal the rest of His plan for [my] life,” says Francia. “I am grateful because God has used His angels from Compassion to mould my life and make me who I am today.”

Give to the Income Generation Critical Need to help provide children like Francia with extra educational opportunities through income generation skills to help them achieve their dreams of pursuing tertiary education.

Words by Nicolas Jean Elie and Monique Wallace Photos by Nicolas Jean Elie

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