Welcome to the second entry in my Ayiti: The Cost of Life game diary. Last time, I took charge of the lives of a family of five from a poor community in Haiti. I sent most of the family to work, while the father headed to Vocational School, as I made early strides towards my long-term goal of guiding them out of poverty.
By the end of the first season, the family had spent nearly half their savings -- despite three of the five members working paid jobs -- but Jean, the father, had gained enough education to begin working as a mechanic.
Life improves, for a while
Out of the rainy season came summer, during which time the schools are closed. I bought books for the family to help them get a little extra study in, then sent them off to work. Yves, the youngest child, headed off to the family farm, while his older brother, Patrick, volunteered with UNICEF to help build infrastructure around the community. Marie and Jacquline took roles as market women, with the promise of long days for modest pay -- but little in the way of health hazard. And Jean put his new training to good use, working as a mechanic.
It was somewhat disappointing to see that Jean's new job only stood to earn the family around 280 goud for the season, which is comparable to what he could earn doing the unhealthy work of a rum distiller. I took respite in the fact that, if it's not particularly well paid, at least he wouldn't be working himself into an early grave. Baby steps -- I figured I needed to first empower the family to work less soul-crushing and health-destroying jobs, then find a way for them to earn more money as they transition to ever-better occupations.
I came up with a rotation system that I hoped would ensure the money kept coming in while someone could always be volunteering, and another could head to the clinic or hospital to rest and recuperate. By the end of the first year, savings had increased to around 500 goud, but I'd been forced to drop -- perhaps a little prematurely, in retrospect -- the standard of living to "poor" in order to balance the budget.
Jacquline and Marie needed medical attention; Yves, Patrick, and Jean would need some soon. Happiness was just beginning to fade away -- even for Yves and Patrick, who had taken on the least difficult jobs in the family.
Just trying to survive
The second year started promisingly, with work beginning on a community centre, but quickly took a turn for the worse. Both Patrick and Yves got sick while volunteering. They returned home to rest, but needed medical attention. Meanwhile, the rest of the family was in fading health. But I couldn't see how they could all get treatment -- there just wasn't enough money, even if everyone made only the cheaper (and less-effective) trip to the local clinic (rather than the hospital).
Jean continued to work as a mechanic, while the others rotated through the clinic. Then he, too, got sick and needed to return home. With no income and rising medical bills, the family quickly ran out of money. Now in extreme poverty, there was no money for either food or medical supplies. Jean had just 2 health and 2 happiness (both out of ten). I feared for his survival.
It didn't look good for the rest of the family, since they had no money to buy food. But they headed off to work anyway -- Marie and Jacquline as market women, Patrick as a farm hand, and Yves as a volunteer helping to build the community centre. I hoped they could stay healthy long enough to get the family out of the hole.