Posts tagged #Opportunity

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.

Foundations of Cedar and Cypress Wood

In the old testament we read in 1 Kings that when the temple was constructed Solomon used Cedar and Cypress wood. That is where our name comes from. We want to be the foundation and the support for others like Cedar and Cypress was for the temple.  Weather that is companies or artisans in Haiti, individual people, missionaries or families. Our goal is to support others though job creation.

Being a support is the core reason we are in Haiti this week. It has been a true transformation for us as we partner along side Sa Voix. We have been able to build relationships that are solid foundations with the girls and are so grateful for the opportunity. We believe the Lord has great things ahead for Sa Voix as they embark on their journey and we are excited to see what unfolds.

The Lord has been good to us indeed. He has shone brightly on this trip and we see His hand of grace everywhere. Thank you for ever one who has come along side us and followed along on this journey. Our week is coming to just about half way, but it is far from over.

Stay safe wherever you might be and remember to love others well.

From Dust to Jewelry

Our vision for Cedar and Cypress Designs became clear to us over a year ago. Still living in Haiti, but preparing to leave. I knew I had to do something to stay connected to the tiny island that means so much to me.

Living in Haiti it is easy to see poverty and a reason for God every day. Every where you go and in everything you do. Slums, hungry kids - pain is everywhere.

"You make beautiful things out of the dust." The lyrics of this Gungor song are easy to relate to when walking the dusty streets of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. There is a place called Papillon Enterprise in Haiti, where these lyrics seem to ring especially true as they unfold right in front of you. A place where beautiful jewelry, pottery, and many other products are made. A place where moms and dads make a decent wage, have healthcare and share lots and lots of laughter. Where beauty is made out of the dust.

Papillon Enterprise was founded by Shelley Clay, a woman who's strength and courage is inspiring. She is a mom of four and employer to over 250 artisans. She runs a boutique, a cafe and of course a major company - oh and that four kid thing again.

Shelley has a heart for moms, moms who have babies and toddlers and 12 year old's. She thinks those mom's should keep their kids and I happen to strongly agree with her. Papillon is a way for families to stay together. By purchasing from them or other companies (like ourselves) who sell their product, you are playing a part in keeping those families together.

We are so excited for our spring line, much of it comes right from Papillon and is full of color! The Papillon slogan, "Beauty is changing lives" is a motto to remember. When you get dressed in the morning and pick out your accessories, your shoes, your purse; think about the story they tell. You have the chance to change lives with the beauty you put on every day.

This jewelry is made out of dust and clay. Like us, it is transformed into something more beautiful.

If you happen to find yourself in Haiti, you must ask to stop by Papillon Enterprise for a tour and some shopping, while you are there get a burger and seasoned fries at the restaurant located above the boutique.

Papillon Enterprise
14 Rue Cassagnol Prolongee
Delmas 75, Port Au Prince, Haiti 6110

Shelley and the rest of the Papillon team, thank you for letting us be a part of your journey - it is an honor.

"Dreams don't work unless you do."

Anonymous

#apparel

There is no way I could do the last few months justice. The Lord has opened the most amazing doors for me and really rained down some incredible blessings. When I got back from my trip to New York, I went to a shopping party at a boutique in North East Minneapolis called Flaunt Accessories wearing one of my original sweaters in an amazing aztec print. Melissa the shop owner was there (she is always there) and was so excited about the sweaters. She asked me if I would be interested in selling at the shop, many of the items are made by local MN artists. I was over joyed at the opportunity.

Since then I have been busy creating and perfecting new patters and working on finding the right prints for each one. It has been the most incredible opportunity and I am so grateful for Melissa for inviting me to be a part of her fantastic team.

November has been full of shows and deliveries. Coming up this Friday is Flaunt's five year anniversary and you can buy our one of a kind, hand made (by me!) designs there. They are also open Wednesday-Friday. Check out their website for more info and be sure to check out ours for all the great things that are arriving from Haiti for the holiday season!