On the day we met Madam Gerard in Kajak, Hurricane Sandy had left precious few crops for her and the other madam saras to buy in the mountain settlement. Here as well as in the south of the country, farmers reported the storm had wreaked considerable damage on their crops, and the competition among the women to buy produce at the tiny outpost was intense. One farmer told Madam Gerard that she had so little to sell that she sent her produce to market to sell directly, to make up for lost profits.
Being among rural women in these mountains, one sees how close to the edge they live. They have no cushion or safety net. Our subject Madam Gerard’s breakfast consisted of coffee and a piece of bread at around 10 a.m., seven hours after she had awakened and walked up the mountain.
For me as a journalist, it’s instructive to see how crisis reporting in Haiti can miss the context of real systems and real lives. The hurricane’s damage to Haitian crops, and the need for more food aid, will be widely reported. But the story of millions of women who stand between the farms and the markets, doing the middle man’s work, is untold.
Their situation isn’t as dramatic as a hurricane, but it’s represents a larger disaster.