Hello again, dear readers. This is the fourth part of the story of my experience with Ayiti: The Cost of Life, a freely-available online game about poverty in Haiti. After failing to keep my family alive for the full four years, and watching them die one by one while desperately trying to turn things around, I started the game again in the last entry.
This time, I planned out a strategy that I hoped would avoid the hopeless scenario I drove the family into the first time around. It started out pretty well; let's see if they stayed that way.
I saw that either Jean or Patrick could work as a construction worker if the family owned a bicycle; I figured the 350 goud cost of a bike would be a worthwhile investment. Jean left his job as a rum distiller for roughly equivalent pay in the healthier construction work. The cost of the bicycle ate up the family's profits for the season, but seemed to set them up well for the future.
A bumper crop in the hurricane season, combined with Marie's temporary switch to manual labour, helped the family's savings rise to 776 goud going into the dry season. This afforded them the opportunity to rest up. Marie headed off to Vocational School for some more education, while Jacquline worked as a farm hand to ensure money couldn't run out, and the rest went to a clinic.
The game said that the family ended the year in "poor shape," but I was pretty happy with the situation. They'd broken even with their savings while managing to gain some education -- Marie was now up to a rating of 3; the rest sat on 1 (which is one better than where they started). They were all happy. And their health was good -- although Marie was about ready for a trip to the clinic.
A volunteer position opened in the second year, which Yves promptly snapped up. The first half of the year was spent consolidating the family's assets and future well-being. A hurricane and unexpected illness almost destroyed all this effort, leaving the family with just 96 goud going into the dry season.
Content that at least health was not an issue, I sent everyone off to work -- no-one could rest or go to school lest they enter extreme poverty. Knowing it could well be suicidal, I made sure they still had books for a little self-study -- even though it left them with just 46 goud.
For a change, nothing went wrong. The family earned more than double what they spent that season, bumping their savings way up to 733 goud. As a bonus, Yves's education rating rose to 2. This time, the game agreed with me: "After the second year, your family is in great shape."
Finally ready to raise the family's living conditions to "Good Living," which costs almost 300 goud extra per season, I looked to the future with hope. Construction work was unavailable, so Jean returned to his old job as a rum distiller and Patrick continued as a farm hand. Meanwhile, Marie went back to Vocational School and Jacquline went to the hospital. Much to my delight, Marie's education jumped from 3 to 5, earning her a technical certificate.
When summer came, I decided it was time to send both parents to a clinic -- their health was getting low. The children picked up the slack remarkably well, earning enough to bring the family's savings up slightly (even if that did require a hopefully-temporary return to "Decent Living").
No jobs were available for which Marie was qualified, so she went back to Vocational School. Revelling in the fact that I could rotate the family through the clinic to keep everyone healthy, I sent Patrick and Yves away to get some medical attention.
The good news kept on coming, as the family experienced another bumper crop and Marie earned her first Baccalaureat Degree. Perhaps now, I thought, she would be able to find some high-paying work that would allow the children to get a better education.