501(c)3 Non-Profit | Empowering Haitian Families

Nothing to say really..

Some days I have this modge podge of thought that I want to somehow get out there and share. Here it goes

While I was out on a walk to look at some houses that were being built I found an elderly lady sitting up on the fence by the side of the road fast asleep. It struck me (in many ways) and in good form (of course) I proceeded with my photo shoot. I think my Haitian friends got a kick out of it in that same sort of way one might get a kick out of a politically incorrect joke, but I thought she was beautiful and the moment deserved to be captured. I hope you see what I saw.

We got a whole box of size 4xl men’s button down flannel shirts donated and although it was fun to imagine how many Haitians you could put in one of those shirts we decided to go an alternate route and we washed them in boiling coffee to distress them with the thought of possibly making them into coin purses instead. It wasn’t the smashing success that we anticipated and the shirts smelled kind of funny afterwards, but it was fun making our washh lady’s head spin by the process itself. This and a bunch of new creative ideas have been ignited with a visit from Donna Karan to our AP house last week. Already some new products are brewing and I am so excited to see what will be happening with our artisans next year!

Today I did payroll. It is getting scarier and scarier with the amount that is going out every other week. I keep wondering how I can keep ourselves safe when the whole community knows that it is payday at the AP house. I joked with Junior that from now on he gets to carry the money. A selfless act of course. Today’s payday winner: a beader took home $1000 US for turning in 40,000 beads in two weeks. Of course I asked him how he pulled that off ( besides wandering off with my paper cutter) and he informed me that he has 8 employees and has rented a room in a house for production- now that’s ingenuity!

That lead me to my next interesting factoid for the day. I decided to be type A (as much as possible) and do some statistics on our artisans. As they were getting paid, I asked them a series of questions- how many kids, whether they were in school, whether they lived in a house and also how many employees they had themselves working for them making beads. It was interesting to find out that only 2 of our 150 artisans reported not having ALL of their kids in school. Wow. Awesome. Also interesting was that most of our jewelry makers are now all in houses, verses the bead makerswho are still primarily in tents. It may be reading too much into it to think that the fact that the jewelry makers have been around longer and probably have had more time to save and get out of a tent situation.. but it did appear to have some correlation and may be also a good indication of some postive change in our neighborhood.

Another very interesting result of my type A moment was in realizing how much outsourcing of work is going on. We have 150 people who have badges and work out of our house. Those 150 artisans reported to have another 180 employees that they paid themselves to help them produce more quickly. There are also a whole bunch of people who have figured out the art of bead making who are freelancing and/ or selling beads to us independently. With this in mind, it is not inconceivable that there could be 500 or more people earning money, sending their kids to school, getting out of tents because of the artisan community that has been created. So exciting and humbling to see the growth that is happening and feel so much like I am just along for the ride. The Haitian train is moving like a steam roller picking up speed.. watch out world. I think you’re going to be impressed.

On a disturbing sidenote. We have a maltese that is in serious love with our rotteweiler. There is no need to explain the birds and the bees to our kids anymore.

Sunday has a lot in store. Donna Karan will be back in town and wants to meet again. Still floored. Along with her, she will have her friend Joey, the owner of the Diesel Jean company and the founder of the One by One campaign. They will be outsourcing the production of their promotional bracelets to AP artisans! Very excited for this connection. With their bracelet promotions they both employ Haitians but also raise money through the sales for humanitarian needs in Haiti. It’s fun to be getting so connected with people who can do so much so quickly because they are so well networked.

China has been on my mind lately. Been spending a lot of time figuring out logistics of how to import directly. A trip to the Canton Fair might be in the works for the end of April. If we are going to keep up on orders and be sustainable, we need to get our supplementary beads from the source! Or… we could start a ceramic/seed bead factory in Haiti, which would be so much more fun….. maybe….

Corrigan has been running around filming, photographing, designing, and rubbing shoulders with a lot of people interested in the development of Haiti and particularly housing developement. It’s hard to create a housing community and expect that the residents will be able to repay their house when nobody has jobs. We are looking into partnering with some land/housing developers and creating the job market to enable people to buy their own house. I still have an artisan community on the brain…. would love to see much more tourism here. It deserves to be here. Haitians are incredible and incredibly creative. Criox de Bouquet is enough to prove that point-a tinker town of people pounding recycled tin oil drums into beautiful pieces of art work. Check out our web store for some products that have come straight from some of these artisans that we have been networking with.

My kids are funny. Jackson has decided clothes are the bomb. I have decided that he is the bomb because I don’t have to dress him anymore. Ember has ringworm on her head and is looking like some kind of inverse Hare Krishna. Her bald patch is stunning. Zebedee has decided that red lipstick and high heels are pretty (on me of course— not that he’s ever seen me in them), and only wants to play with guns, swords, dinosaurs, and video games. I guess he’s all boy. Keziah is growing so fast and approaching 8 years old. She is loving school and is finally starting to catch up on reading and some of the academics that got put by the wayside with last years earthquake.

The days are generally beyond full for us, the possibilites seem endless, the emotions are unbearable sometimes, the mosquitos are relentless, the neverending summer is wonderful, the Hatian people exceed and exceed and exceed my expectations, and the times of rest and relaxation are so needed and cherished. After almost three years, I am more in love with this country than I’ve ever been. It is so nice to be right where I belong.
  1. Shelley, for your payroll check out the mobile phone programs at Digicell and Voila. No cash in the house… and you could transfer money each time the ladies bring in work, rather than do the Big Amounts once a month.
    Or at least start writing checks instead of paying cash. Don't forget your blogs are public, and announcing on internet you're busy doing payroll is indeed asking for trouble. Just stop doing that.

  2. so you have bead makers and then jewelry makers take the beads and make the jewelry? i thought one person made the whole piece. that is sort of interesting to know. i was telling people the artisan on the name made the whole thing. could you explain this more in blog or FB?

  3. Rays of Hope says they will deal with all the logistics on buying a SUV in the DR if we can fund raise the money. Any ideas on how I can announce this to your support system? Or is the SUV a lower priority right now? – Sarah Woodward

  4. Great post my friend. Love you!

  5. Great post! Very exciting to see all the good work being done in Haiti. I'm so impressed with the creativity, ingenuity and resilience of the Haitian people. Can you post the link for your store? I looked for the link on your blog but couldn't find it.

  6. I am amazed at the growth in your program. May God continue to bless all that your family is doing!

  7. We miss you all so much!!!! Thank you again for opening your home and lives to the Knoxville team!! I made my wallpaper on my phone a pic of Ember! I look at it and smile so big! Jesus used her to bring so much joy to my heart!!!!! I'm praying for the Lord to continue to bless AP more and more! Yay DKNY

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