Posts filed under Haiti

I am heading back to Haiti!

Well, the time has finally come. After being away from Haiti for two years, I am able to take a short trip there at the end of this month. This trip is long over due and I am excited that everything aligned.

I will be traveling to Haiti to work with our horn and bone artisans to ensure continued quality products. As we turn a new chapter in Cedar and Cypress Designs and continue to grow we need to be producing top items as well as keep up with the new demand.

If you would like to partner with me in this journey, there are materials I will be buying over the next two weeks and bringing in with me as well as expenses on the ground in Haiti such as transportation and food.

I will also be planning out future trips that will include having others join me and learn about Haiti’s rich culture and history as well as visit our artisan partners. I am honored to be able to this work in Haiti and feel very blessed by those who help make it possible!

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Posted on May 16, 2018 and filed under Haiti, Cedar and Cypress.

Now Hiring

As the world moves on from Haiti once again, our artisans and partners are still very much involved. I can't stress enough that what Haiti needs most (maybe not "most", but you get what I'm trying to say) is JOBS.

People have lost their lives and their livelihoods - Hurricane Matthew whipped out crops and livestock, homes and families. Every time I talk about Haiti at a show or the store the response is always similar - Haiti just can't catch a break.

It breaks my heart to see people who have been knocked down by society, by their country and president, by the system and by continued natural disasters. Poverty and a broken system don't make life easy for Haitians. But there are some committed to making life better, to change the system and do their part to make the world around them a little better.

We can all do our part. You can play a role in changing the life of some one in Haiti by making a purchase from us. Our partners are committed to orphan prevention, to education, to the whole family. They offer literacy classes, help to rebuild homes, offer health insurance and so much more. So buy from us, buy from our partners, buy from others who are involved and selling products from Haiti and other countries around the world that are hurting and broken. The more you buy, the more people are employed; Haiti-now hiring.

Be the change you wish to see in the world.
— Ghandi

Haiti Cherie

I traveled home today, back to Minnesota, through North Carolina where the storm will surely be heading soon. As I stood in the security line checking all my social media feeds, the world around me seemed to be going on with out skipping a beat. Swirling around me as I stood there, motionless, on the verge of tears. 

The world goes on even when it seems to stop. So many of us see images on TV or Facebook, say a quick prayer or mutter how sad and devastating that must be and move on. 

My mind, my heart and my prayers are in Haiti today. I am thankful that many of my close friends were very safe in their homes, in secure structures and I am speechless at the stories of love they have shown their friends and neighbors. 

 *Photo credit Jan Williams Stevens of the  Hands and Feet Project

*Photo credit Jan Williams Stevens of the Hands and Feet Project

In the days and weeks that come I know Haiti will be on the minds of many. Living in Minnesota I have met numerous people who have traveled to Haiti. It is in moments like this that I want to encourage us all to support some of the well established hands on organizations.

Through my time in Haiti I had the pleasure of working with many organizations, many who have employees and loved ones whom homes and life have been torn apart by this storm. If you would like to give, I would encourage you to do so, but do your research. We are encouraging everyone to support one of our partners in Haiti Papillion Enterprise through their state side organization and non-profit, Apparent Project Haiti.

Apparent Project is the non-profit of our partner Papillon Enterprise. They have several hundred employees from their jewelry makers, pottery makers, metal artisans, managers, and restaurant employees. Their work is extensive and their relief efforts have already begun. 

Papillion Enterprise is a staple in their community. They provide love, safety, jobs and in this case relief and aid. It is with your help and support that those on the ground will be able to take care of the needs and relief efforts before them. I strongly encourage you to pour into this organizations financially and to continue to cover them with prayer and encouragement. 

It also must be said, buy. Buy from us, from them and from our other partners listed on our website HERE. Your purchase is creating jobs and it is through a reliable job that people will be able to support themselves and their families. This is why we are, this is our core. To provide jobs to create sustainable lifestyles. Thank you for your continues support and love.

Haiti is a beautiful place, tomorrow the sun will rise again, it will bring a new day and new hope. May you be strong and may the light find it's way back to your shores. Haiti Cherie, Bonje se jerve.

National Coffee Day!

Don't you just love that there is something to celebrate every day. I am not sure about you, but every day is National Coffee Day for me.

I thought how fitting to tell you guys about one of our newest partners, Singing Rooster Coffee. Haiti has some of the best coffee I have ever had, it is deep and rich and so flavorful.

Singing Rooster is a remarkable company. From pouring into the lives of their farmers to working on reforesting Haiti, a place where less than 5% of the country is forested. They get it and we are excited about our new partnership with them.

Rest assured, your purchase makes a big impact.

"Singing Rooster was established in 2009. We partner commercially with small-holder coffee, cacao (chocolate), and art producers to alleviate poverty in Haiti.  We serve as:

  • Agricultural and business consultants
  • Organizers of pre-harvest financing
  • Primary buyers of crops/products at premium prices
  • Product transformation into higher value items (like roasted coffee or chocolate bars)
  • Business guiders, developers, cheerleaders
  • Equitably distributing economic gains
  • Market creators"

Encouraged by Opportunity

This is my friend Miquette. Raised in the mountains of Haiti she saw her mother and father give up her youngest sister and a cousin to an orphanage. She stood on the side lines as they left their country for America, never knowing if she would ever see them again. Most orphans in Haiti are orphans of poverty, meaning their parents are alive, but unable to take care of them, unable to meet their basic needs of food, shelter and water. Mothers and fathers and children are dying every day in third world countries from starvation-every day. Their best option was an orphanage.

Miquette did see her sister and cousin again. The family who adopted them kept a promise to Miquette if she was able to keep her promise to her country-to return to Haiti with an education and give the same opportunity to children in her home country of Haiti. She was brought to Minnesota by the family, with hardly any English, and placed in a school in Detroit Lakes, MN. She went on to learn English, graduate High School, go to college and get her nursing degree. She is one of the strongest, hardest working, grittiest people I know. She is beautiful, inside and out.

She lives in Haiti with her husband and their two adorable boys. She runs a 501c3 called TeacHaiti, a school in PaP with a second being built in her home town of St. Michele - where students are given a good education, they are given a chance. Miquette is paying her opportunity and blessings forward, she is keeping her promise.

Miquette became a good friend of mine while I work at Quisqueya Christian School in Haiti, she worked there part time as a nurse and biology teacher. When I left Haiti and began Cedar and Cypress Designs she came on as a partner. As she is still living in Haiti, she works closely with metal workers and artisans and is a supporting partner of our work and products in addition to her role at TeacHaiti. She provides education and jobs and encouragement. I am humbled by her life and her example.

Last week I got to hear her speak here in Minnesota. She brought with her one of her "success stories", Valentine. When Miquette returned to Haiti, she was given money for ten scholarships from her board. There was no school yet, she had no children of her own, she had just graduated and had a dream of helping change the lives of children and families in Haiti through education.

                                  Valentine, myself and Miquette at the TeacHaiti benefit.

                                 Valentine, myself and Miquette at the TeacHaiti benefit.

Miquette went to a school and asked which children were in danger of being kicked out because they had not paid. This is common in the Haitian education program, most schools are private and students are required to pay monthly-many attend and never pay. This results in teachers also not being paid which trickles down to poor, under-educated teachers working in many schools.

Miquette was handed a long list with over 50 names on it. She asked which students showed the most promise, who were the hardest workers, the ones who wanted to be there, but simply could not pay. Valentine was close to being kicked out of school for not paying, but she showed significant promise. She was brought into the office and met with both the director of her school and Miquette, she was told that she no longer had to worry about paying for school. She no longer had to wake up, get ready for school, but not know if she would be allowed to attend, to learn. She was given a chance and an opportunity.

                       Valentine speaking at the TeacHaiti benefit at Detroit Lakes.

                      Valentine speaking at the TeacHaiti benefit at Detroit Lakes.

Valentine now works at Quisqueya Chrisitian school as the snack shop and lunch room manager. She has over 15 people who she oversees and is loved by every single student and staff member. She is welcoming and kind and has taken her opportunity and made something of her self. She is in America until July 6th for the first time ever. I was inspired by her speech at the TeacHaiti benefit and am encouraged by her success and her story.

Survive VS Thrive

I was in a group discussion this morning and some one asked the question “What is a goal or dream you have for your children.”  Now I don’t have children...yet, but a thousand small wishes quickly swept across my mind.

Joy. Inner Peace. To know the Lord. Love. Selflessness. Good health…the list in endless.

But as I silently reflected on the question I began thinking of Roseline. In Haiti last week I spend almost every day with Roseline. We sewed and cut fabric. She practiced her stitches, straight line after straight line. I made her back stitch, turn corners and use different fabric types. She made headbands and learned about the frustrations of tension and bobbins running out. Roseline thrived last week…at work. Roseline wandered up the street at noon when we went to lunch, but she didn’t. At home, Roseline is struggling to survive.

Roseline is a single mom of two. She never had the opportunity to go to school, in fact her sister, Renise, was sent from their home town of Cap Haitian, Haiti to Port-au-Prince as a young child. She was sent to beg for money. She lived on the streets and fought to survive.

As I sat in that room in Minnesota, I thought about these two girls who are now a world away from me. I thought about our lives and how very different they are. I thought about their upbringing and mine. I thought about how they struggled every day for a meal, about the morning’s I pulled my soft covers over my head in my warm bed because I didn’t want to get up and go to school. It never crossed my mind that there were girls like me a world away who weren’t able to have the opportunity to go to school.

A job is giving Roseline and many others like her the chance to go from survive to thrive. Roseline is working hard at her new. Her children are not currently living with her because she can’t take care of them. She is barely serving to take care of herself. But a job, that is a game changer for Roseline. A job is giving her the foundations to build her family on. A job is giving Roseline AND her children the chance to thrive.

Join me in honoring people like Roseline and organizations like our partners in Haiti (Haiti’s Handprint, Sa Voix, Papillon Enterprise, Haiti Design Co-op, Anchored in Hope) who work tirelessly to provide jobs. But, don’t forget about yourself. Without you and your purchases there would be no jobs.

Job creation through artisan empowerment.

Prayers and Blood Needed

UPDATE!

If you would like to donate towards Mario's recovery, Papillon Enterprise has set up a donation campaign. Copy and past the link below into your browser:

https://www.crowdrise.com/mario-castins-road-to-recovery---medical-and-recovery-support-/fundraiser/apparent-project

It can be hard to sit on the side lines and not help when you know there is so much that needs to be done. Tonight I am sitting in Minnesota refreshing a facebook feed, praying for a great man.

One of our amazing partners in Haiti, Papillon Enterprise, is keeping the world updated on one of their brightest employees. If you have even been to Papillon Enterprise to shop or snag a smoothie since the Clay Cafe started then you would have meet Mario.

Haiti can be a dangerous place and people can do terrible things when they are desperate. Today Mario was shot three times. He is in the hospital (Bernard Mevs if you are in Haiti and able to donate blood), however they are not able to operate until they have sufficient blood. Blood in Haiti is not as easy to come by as it is here in America and surgery is not done with out blood being available or ready to replace.

I might not be in Haiti any more, but I know many people who are. If you are in or know some one in Haiti, please consider going to MSF (Medicin Sans Frontier) on Delmas 33 to Donate O+ or O- blood. You must use his full name Jean David Castin. Mario has lost a great deal of blood and needs surgery immediately, possibly two.

If you are not in Haiti like myself, please pray for Mario. I spent a great deal of time at the Clay Cafe while in Haiti last week was greeted by Mario's infectious smile every time. Although I don't know him well, he was kind and welcoming, a good person. It is tough to be so helpless knowing your friends are hurting and grieving. Please-join me in lifting him up in prayer.

Pray for Haiti, for healing and strength as a nation. Pray for Mario and for his family, his father was in the car with him and is also in the hospital. Pray for Papillon Enterprise and the community around them in Haiti.

Stay safe, and God bless.

Update as of 3/9 9:40 PM from Shelley Clay:

Local peeps:
Blood might be needed tomorrow, but for now, none can be processed until the morning. Thank you everyone who jumped into action for Mario tonight!!
Anyone who wants to prevent this kind of crazy run around for future emergencies, please consider donating regularly to the Red Cross in Haiti!

Update on location: go to the Red Cross, 17 people here waiting to donate but they are looking for O+ or -, could donate tomorrow. Don't go to MSF, they weren't sure what to do.

 

Posted on March 9, 2016 and filed under Haiti.