501(c)3 Non-Profit empowering the poor in Haiti

Last week we were broken into. I can’t tell you how discouraging it is to spend so much time and energy on self protection. I feel like every other week we are adding a wall, a security camera, a new security employee, a gate, a lock. I can imagine how much more we would be able to pay if this wasn’t a part of our budget. We lost more than $2000 in damages and theft this week. Then we spent another $1500 on beefing up security. Discouraging to say the least.
I shut down the house for the week, signed off of Facebook (as I don’t know how to respond to some of the “encouragement” I get sometimes- you know what I mean… pat answers when you are feeling bad sometimes grate.), and put an out of office reply on my email.
spent the week with my kids. We went swimming, went to their school for a soccer game and tried to relax as much as possible.
When we opened up on Monday, I had a meeting with the artisans.
It went something like this:
” This is a small neighborhood. Everybody knows everybody’s business and I know that someone knows who keeps stealing from us. I’m not going to lie, I don’t feel like being here today. I don’t really want to come to work today. The safety of my family is more important to me that this business.
Everyday you come to work with your sad stories about how you are dying and need help with this or with that. When I pay, you put a grimace on your face because you don’t want anyone to know what you got. And I get that. I know that you have to protect yourself as well. No one can know how much you just sold this week, or else you will get stolen from, but my heart can’t handle all this negativity. I need to know- just once in a while- that what I am doing is working. That somehow it is helping you. That somehow it is making a difference in your lives. I know how much I pay every week, so I know that for many of you, it has changed your lives, but when all I hear is how it’s never enough, it is really discouraging. I can’t go on if I don’t start hearing some stories that encourage me.”
With that I started to cry.
I think you could have heard a pin drop in the artisan center.
I asked them to just work quietly for the day and that I would be in my office catching up on a weeks worth of emails.
I retired to my cave of an office (the monster of a bead room) and pulled out the laptop.
About 25 seconds later a quiet knock on the door.
I ignored it.
15 seconds later.
A little bit louder.
“Entre”…..
Harry shyly steps into the room. Harry is a father of two, and he and his wife Angeline have been working for AP for just over a year. He is one of my most intelligent and hardest workers. If any new design needs to be made, or a special order needs to be filled, Harry can do it.
And he is always kind. Kind to his wife, kind to his kids.
He is about 5″3″ and has gained about 40 pounds this year, which of course makes me pleased as it is a luxury to be a bit overweight in Haiti. His wife and he walk to work about a mile everyday together and are one of those rare couples that just get along. They are refreshing.
Harry approached me with his quiet lisp and says:
“Shelley, I just wanted you to know that I only need $600 more dollars until I buy my own land.”
“Well, how much does the land cost?” I ask.
“2600 US dollars” He replied. ” Angeline and I have been saving all this year and have $2000 in our bank accounts. We are almost there. After we buy the land, we will start building a house. And my kids have been in school since I started working here. I just wanted to say thank you for all that you have done for my family this year.”
With that he slipped out the door.
I melted.
Good news. How lovely.
Harry has been working hard supplementing our growing demand for the fundraiser bracelets. He works like crazy every evening after spending a day on piece work with me in order that someday his kids will have a brighter future. Now is his time. He is one of the ones who “gets its”. He grabs it, he wrestles with it, and he is changing his life.
Kudos to Angeline and Harry.
And thank you for the words that erased all of the discouragement from the week and reminded me that it is ALL WORTH IT. It really is.

8 Comments
  1. Sometimes you just have to vent, and that's okay! Laying down your life for others is never easy, but the "kudos" now & then help make it better. Hang in there! You are making a difference!

  2. Praying for you regularly, and glad you were able to take a step back, and then come back and feel encouraged. I love you, friend! Thanks for sharing this story.

  3. What an amazing story–and it's your story, too!

  4. ((((((((SHELLEY))))))))

    A friend of mine once said "IF YOU ARENT A THREAT YOU ARENT A TARGET" I know that might sound cliche but I believe in your case that is VERY true!!!

    What you provide for your artisans is an amazing part of what God is doing in Haiti!!!

    Please know that I am praying for you, your artisans, your family and everybody else who is part of the Apparent Project….I am also praying a HUGE hedge of spiritual protection around you, your family , your compound, the artisans and their families, your compound….and that God will pierce the heart of the person who is doing the stealing and fill his heart with compassion and peace.

    ((((((SHELLEY)))))))))

    XOXOXOX

    Loving God, Loving Haiti, Loving The Apparent Project & Her People!

    Kelly DeBardelaben <>< 🙂

  5. I have absolutely no words of encouragement because I have no idea what it is like to be in your shoes. Or sandals. I'm just here. Reading. And tearing up as I have many times at your blog. I do like the phrase, 'If you're not a threat, you're not a target.' That seems to makes a ton of sense in your world. And I do wish I could muster up the work ethic of someone like Harry. Peace.

  6. I found the Apparent Project about a year ago after a trip to Haiti. I can't give you enough words (or pat words 🙂 ) of encouragement for what you are doing. Just seeing the dignity and empowerment that Haitians are getting through this project is so encouraging to me. It often feels like Haiti is a quicksand of insurmountable problems but there are these tiny seeds (Harry) that are being planted through you. And, sometimes you just need to express every way you feel, even when you feel like crap. Not everything is sunshine and kittens 🙂

  7. I just returned home last Thursdsay from a week long humanitarian visit to Haiti (I was with a Foundation called Healing Hands for Haiti). Feeling more and more despair and sadness the further away Haiti gets to me has been weighing my mind and soul down. Last night, a news story about you and your project aired in Salt Lake City, Utah, where I am from. I am so grateful for this blog, this project and your perspective, love and goodness. Your writing is beautiful! It has provided a little glimmer of hope for me as I try to make sense of my time in Haiti. Thank YOU! This has been an answer to my prayers of understanding.
    May God bless you and your incredible act of love and genuine goodness and you continue to help and love the Haitian people.

  8. Good Morning! Came to the site this morning to download instructions for the cereal boxes–but have to thank you for the honesty of your sharing. Your transparency teaches me…and I'm sure others. Those deep truths of faith we share are never meant to smother feelings…we have to embrace the emotions to find the depths of God. Leaving this note with love and prayers and confidence that the grace of God will surround you. Off to find those instructions! with love, Billie Jo

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