When Géraldine Timé went to pick up her monthly money transfer at MoneyGram on Sept. 30, the Port-au-Prince resident expected about 10,000 Haitian gourdes. But to her great surprise, the $80 in U.S. currency converted to approximately 5,000 gourdes.
Anxiety instantly filled Timé, 21, who has been receiving the remittance from her Among The Reeds sponsor for three years. An exasperated Timé did not bother asking what caused the big drop. She already knew: The gourde value’s had skyrocketed.
“When you have 5,000 gourdes in your hand [for a month], you can’t really buy anything with it,” Timé said. “And prices didn’t really drop, it’s basically the same. I try to adapt, I made a plan. I can only buy things I need and can’t think about next month.”
The Haitian gourde’s value against the U.S. dollar went from 120 G in mid-August to 62 G in October. With the gourde’s rapid appreciation, scores of Haitians like Timé who rely on money transfers from the United States were left doing quick currency conversions to keep up with the values as they rose. The answer was always the same: their transfer was worthless.