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

Makilene’s story

Makilene is our country bumpkin. She is an adorable Haitian woman who can’t braid, can’t write, can’t read, can’t dance, and still can’t cut her own paper when making paper beads. She is adored by all in our program and works harder than most of the other women put together. Let me tell you why.
When I first met Makilene it was a somber knock at the door last December. Before me stood a broken woman with no hope left in the world. She had five children. The first four were with a man that Makilene loved very much. He got sick with a fever and died. She was left as a single mom and quickly drowned herself in debts to feed her four. She found a new guy and had another baby. He left when the baby was born without a word and never came back.
The day I met her, she was malnourished, covered in scabies, on the brink of tears, holding a newborn nursing babe in her arms, also covered in scabies and had just walked for a day and a half from the province in search or work. She heard we had work.
I didn’t know her from Adam and in most cases it is not a great idea to take in someone who you don’t know anything about, but I offered her a couple days work doing laundry for me and found her to be delightful. I went out on a limb and told her to go home, gather the rest of her children, come out to Port Au Prince and I would get her set up with a house and a job. I didn’t know if she would be a good worker or not, so it was a risk for sure, but it is one that has paid off in so many ways.
Makilene showed up at my house the first week of January with four kids in tow. She had left one son with some friends because she couldn’t manage all of them on the tap tap. We quickly found her a small one room house and got them somewhat settled. Several days later the earthquake hit!
My heart skipped a beat when the earthquake finally subsided as I thought of Makilene in her small house and the realization that the poorer communities had gotten hit the hardest. I choked on the thought that perhaps I had just brought her out to Port au Prince to die. I quickly jumped in the car and within a half an hour after the earthquake was at Makilene’s house. The whole row of houses leading up to her house had collapsed. Her house had stood firm. What a miracle! I was so blessed to know that the Lord had protected this precious little family.
The months following the earthquake proved to be difficult for Makilene. Even though her house had stood firm, she was reluctant to sleep in her house, but still she had a place to keep her things while she spent most nights with her little ones in a tent. Soon her rent was due and the jewelry money that she had made had barely paid to feed the six mouths, let alone save money for rent.
She moved into her “tent” full time. Her tent is four sticks and a couple of tarps wrapped around them. She sleeps on the ground with her children and tries to make ends meet. One of her sons was recently accepted into a missionary school for the poor, but still she was struggling to pay for food, and barely can think about paying for the other three school-age children to be able to go.
Finally she approached me with her solution. She was going to give two of her children up to an orphanage. She knew they could find food, a semi-decent education, and possibly a chance for a better life through adoption. MY heart sank. These kids love their mothers. I look at her three year old little girls face everyday as she comes to work with her mother and wonder what her future holds. Will she be able to be raised by her mother? Will she have any chance at a better life than her mother has had?
I begged Makilene to let me think this through. How can I help her keep her children. I have already given her a job- it’s just not enough. I reluctantly told her I would look for a “good” orphanage that is currently taking children. Even the best orphanage can’t hold a candle to a mother’s love and care. Makilene is a good mother. Her children need her.
Eventually Makilene came up with a plan- all on her own. What if SHE could BUY a house instead of rent a house. Then she would only have to pay for food and school for her children and not have to worry about rent money. I was overjoyed that she came up with this all on her own. We asked her to go look for little houses for sale. She came back the next day saying she had found one. A little stone house, with it’s own land for a mere $2500 US. She asked me if I could help her buy it. I just don’t have the money. Instead, I whipped out a calculator. How many necklaces would it take to sell to make $2500. We figured it to be just approximately 208 necklaces. I told her that… two hundred and eight. She looked serious for a moment, took a deep breathe, a huge smile broke out and she whispered to me.. ” I can do that. I can make 208 necklaces. I can buy myself my own house!”.
That was three days ago. Today she finished necklace # 108. She is more than half way there.. assuming they all sell. Go Makilene! Country bumpkin who can’t read, braid, or dance is going to own her own home by the end of the year. I can’t wait for that moment and I am going to throw a party for her because she is going to DO IT! So if you have a jewelry party or go to one and you see Makilene’s name on the tag. Know that you are not just buying yourself a bracelet or a necklace, that you are literally changing the trajectory of Makilene and her children’s life forever.
And I can’t wait to see what that looks like!!
6 Comments
  1. How do I host a jewlery party from the states? I would love more information. Email me at ddeirdre@yahoo.com

    -Deirdre Hopkins

  2. How do I begin to host a jewelry party?

  3. Go Shelley! Keep encouraging those ladies & I will keep buying & sharing about this ministry as I am able!
    Everyone I took jewelry to over the summer ADORED their new lot & were taken by the purpose of the ministry.
    Blessings on your family & those you are helping.

  4. #108 in three days, that is more than a marathon that is an amazing feet. Way to go Makilene. Now lets all buy some necklaces!

  5. How amazing – Makilene is a rare treasure of a lady. I pray that the Lord enables her to sell all 208 necklaces quickly, and that the house is still available for her when she has the money.

  6. is there a place on line where I can buy some jewlery?

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