—by Jo Seibel

Yvette’s eyes sparkle and she beams a welcome to the SALT staff members who have come for a visit. Lunch has been served and cleaned up at her tiny, sun-drenched roadside restaurant, and it isn’t quite time to light the charcoal to make the evening food. It’s a good time for a visit.

Yvette has worked hard throughout her adult life, trying to provide for her basic needs in a country known for its deep poverty. At one point she was a seamstress. Later she had a small business of buying and reselling ready-made clothing, shuttling back and forth from Haiti to the Dominican Republic.

Finally she started a nice roadside restaurant complete with inside seating. This was a place where she could help provide for her family while being close to home. But the January 2010 earthquake destroyed her restaurant.

Although Yvette wondered how she and her family would ever rebuild their lives, she didn’t allow the hardship to stop her from working. She started cooking three meals a day under a tree—boiled bananas in the morning, rice at noon, and lighter fare for the evening. Although she now has a makeshift shelter over her food preparation area, her restaurant is still in the open air. Her customers sit wherever they can find a spot to eat their plate of food.

Three years ago, Yvette got her first loan from the SALT microloan program. With the help of SALT, she is making progress toward building a new restaurant. “With God and SALT, I can do this,” she says.

“It’s going to be nice!” Yvette says of her future restaurant. “You’ll be able to go inside and sit down. And I want to offer a menu instead of just cooking what I can afford to cook.” Yvette’s face shines, and she speaks enthusiastically about her dream.

Yvette isn’t interested only in helping herself, but she also has a vision to help others. “I want to help the elderly!” she says. “Each month I would love to fix a bag for them with some oil, rice, maybe sandals or clothing . . . I want to give to others like I’ve been helped.”

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