A woman walks a mountain road above Ka-Blain selling carrots from her farm. The women who buy, transport and resell the produce are called madam saras. This is how the produce of 700,000 Haitian farms reaches urban markets.
Two days after Hurricane Sandy, madam saras vie to buy the scant crops at an informal roadside market in Kajak. The lack of supply means madam saras will make less money to feed themselves and their families.
Madame Gerard, 56, with her husband at home in Ka-Blain. Gerard is a buyer and reseller of vegetables. In Haiti, informal trade accounts for 85 percent of the total economy. Women like Gerard drive 75 percent of that trade.
Madame Gerard with carrots she purchased from a farmer. Gerard buys vegetables in the morning and packs them for market in the afternoon, walking four hours a day. Unable to read or write, she’s putting six children through high school.
A rock skitters down a street in Kenscoff, washed by rain from Hurricane Sandy. The town is home to a large market. A new dormitory here gives market women from far away an alternative to sleeping on the ground.
Police prevent a crowd from pressing closer as Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe makes an appearance in Kenscoff after Hurricane Sandy. Lamothe distributed food through a government program called “Ede Pep.”
A young girl helps her mother bulk carrots in Durezin. Generations of Haitian girls have learned to buy and sell this way. It’s the only work most Haitian women can find.
Men at a truck stop in Durezin load and transport goods to market. The madam saras pay them for this works, creating employment for other poor Haitians besides themselves.
A truck loaded with produce and women leaves Durezin for Port-au-Prince. Women often ride on the sacks atop the truck. In remote parts of Haiti, such a trip can last days and cost lives.
Women wait for their produce to be unloaded at Croix des Bossales market in Port-au-Prince. Most sleep on the sacks and start selling at first light. Robbery and rape are occupational hazards, according to the Haitian Ministry of Women’s Affairs.
Croix des Bossales market, the largest in Haiti, comes alive before dawn in Port-au-Prince.
First light comes to Croix des Bossales street market in Port-au-Prince. Market women shower, eat and set up their wares.
Sunlight illuminates the piles of refuse at Port-au-Prince’s Croix des Bossales. market. Most women sit on the ground to sell their wares.
Madame Davide, 33, sells vegetables for her mother, Madame Gerard, at Croix des Bossales market. Davide, who finished 10th grade and has three children, began selling when she was ten.
Ansapit in southern Haiti looks across an often-dry riverbed to the Dominican town of Pedernales. It is one of four major border crossing points between the countries, with a binational market located on the Dominican side.
A UN soldier mans the border crossing on the Pedernales side. Dominican soldiers have their own rules, however, one being that no Haitian products may enter. The rule violates trade agreements between the countries, but Haitian authorities have yet to challenge it.
A Haitian man peers through the fence separating Ansapit from Pedernales on the DR-Haiti border after the gates have been unexpectedly closed. The border rules change at the whim of DR soldiers and Pedernales officials.
A Dominican farm truck enters the binational market in Pedernales. Its customers are Haitian border women, who are prevented by DR guards from bringing their own goods here, This makes the women a captive market for Dominican products, which they buy and resell in Haiti.
Dominican farm agents sort avocados to sell to Haitian vendors at the binational market. Although Haiti grows avocados, too, they can’t be sold here.
Haitian sellers grow angry at having DR soldiers confiscate their goods. Even bouillon cubes are taken from them if they bring them to the market from Haiti.
By 10 a.m., a Dominican farm agent has sold most of his coconuts to Haitian vendors at the border market.
A Haitian vendor sorts pepe (used clothes) for sale at the binational market. Because of its ready availability, most Ansapit women buy and resell the used clothes, which come to Pedernales from the U.S.,
For the past 10 years, the southern DR has been the source of most of the pepe that Haitian women resell in southeast Haiti. The D.M. Group, a Dominican company, is based in the Zona Franca in Pedernales.
Haitian women with enough capital buy Dominican pepe by the truckload and have it delivered to Ansapit. While the driver is inside showing the paperwork to DR authorities, a local Dominican man helps himself to a pair of jeans.
An Ansapit woman sorts her delivery of pepe from the D.M. Group in Pedernales. She may travel from Ansapit as far as Port-au-Prince to resell the clothe
Women who can’t afford to buy pepe in bulk find items to resell at the dump outside Pedernales where the D.M. Group deposits its rejects. Dominican men supervise the women and charge them for their bundles.
A Dominican man points a knife in gest at a woman resting outside the D.M. Group gates in Pedernales, as she waits for the company’s truck of pepe discards to depart for the dump.
A ruined building outside Ansapit provides shelter for women to take delivery of their pepe. Some come by boat from Jacmel 93 miles away, camping under tarps for days at a time.
It takes three days for women to sort large deliveries of pepe and bulk them for resale at a ruined building outside Ansapit. Those from far away bring their cooking pots, and often their children.
Ansapit has no electricity so people go to sleep early. A trader from Jacmel rests on the ground in the shade of a tarp on the outskirts of town.
Women from distant towns bring their goods to the Ansapit waterfront. Through the day and into the evening, stevedores load the open boats. The boats leave at night for Marigot 90 miles away, their gunwales nearly submerged by the weight of people and products.
A Jacmel trader eats a dinner of rice and peas in a shack on the Ansapit waterfront while waiting for the night boat to take her and her goods to Marigot, 90 miles away.
A stevedore carries a goat to a waiting boat on the Ansapit waterfront where it will ride with other cargo bound for Marigot. The last to be carried to the boats are the passengers, who ride on top of the sacks.