Featured Artisans

We currently have 57 artisans working in two cities: Pignon and Savanette in the Northern mountains of Haiti. We have two group leaders who oversee the artisans at each location and one Logistics Supervisor who acts as a liaison between the Haitian artisans and the U.S. support team. These men and women are using their God-given creativity to work for their families.

 

 

By Dorina Gilmore

I remember my first day meeting the ladies. A small group of them gathered in the stifling heat of the afternoon. They made a circle with wooden chairs in the shade of one of the buildings. I was too shy to use the Haitian Kreyol I knew so I just took a seat and watched them work.

One woman cut cardboard from cereal boxes and other packaging into triangle-shaped strips. Several other women took the strips of recycled cardboard and began to roll the cardboard around skewers creating the beads. They glued the beads in place. Another woman carried the skewers full of beads to a spot in the sun where the glue could dry. Someone else used a paint brush to apply varnish to make the completed beads shine. While they worked, the ladies chattered in Kreyol. Their kids played in the school yard nearby. The babies climbed in mamas’ laps as they worked. One mama even stopped to breastfeed. I could see right away that this was not just a way for the women to make money but also a way for them to create community.

One of the women, Madame Moise, proved a very talented artisan and we became fast friends. She always made a point of saving me a chair and greeting me in Haitian Kreyol or her broken English when I arrived. She was always eager to show me her work and ask my opinion about colors. Despite the language barrier, we became friends through the days that stretched into months. We were bound together by beads and string, rainbows of color and combinations.

Perhaps the most exciting part about this project for me is that these women are able to use their creativity to earn a fair wage. Sure, we could give them a handout. We could raise money to buy food for them or clothes for their children. Or, we can give them the gift of dignity through this grass-roots business that provides work and fosters community. The sale of just one necklace to a friend here in the United States can provide up to a month’s worth of wages the ladies could earn in Haiti. Jobs are scarce in Haiti, especially for women. These women find hope through The Haitian Bead Project.