haiti projects

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hand-embroidered, lavendar-filled eye pillows, "dragonfly"

 

One of the things we have planned for our life learning / unschooling this Fall is to start a business for the boys.  Different than most businesses, this will be a social-exchange program with one of our favorite organizations, Haiti Projects.  Some of the most elaborate, exquisite crafting I've ever seen comes out of Haiti, & specifically, the Cooperative d' Artisanat, or artist' co-op.  It's heartbeat is 180 women, knitting, sewing, & embroidering to provide much-needed cash for their families.  They also have a health clinic, community library, a micro-lending program for local farmers, & an education & tuition program.  Started by one of my dearest friends & mentors, it's now run by the Haitians themselves, as it should be.

 

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This is my beloved friend Issamuel Jean-Louis, the project's General Director.  And creator of the community library.  A funny thing about being American is that I actually buy those stories about starving children & cultures living in deepest poverty.  I believe those stories that people are totally disempowered & without my help, they have no options.  Then my friends bring me back to reality & share with me the power of listening to other cultures as wellsprings of resourcefulness, cultural knowledge, character & sustainable practices that we simply do not have.  Case in point - Samuel, as we call him, has a room built under his house, 10 x 12 feet, that captures rain water.  He set it up for his mother, so she can water her garden for the 6 month stretches of no rain.  He also hates pasta, & so his mother doesn't make it.  Poverty or not, his father raised each of his 5 children to build & tend their own garden plots as contributions to the family table.  These are all things I aspire towards.  Except the pasta part.  I do that & I think I resent it.

 

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Recently we had a sale for the uber-rich outside of Boston.  The hostess of this enchanted house surprised me by sending me to the kitchen first thing, so that I could have a home-base for my son & his snacks.  She had just come back from the grocery store, where she had gone to pick-up cherries for us while we worked.  She seemed down-to-earth enough, yet her kitchen, well, I couldn't tell which of the 3 rooms that were kitchens was the kitchen.  Her husband kept begging True to go walk his dogs around the property.  They invited 250 friends from every local yacht club.  Hardly any came, for something to do with the month of August & vacations.  It was a huge relief/disappointment  to the organizers, who had never had such an event, anyways.  By the end of the sale, the hosts had transformed into a King & Queen & went off to a benefit at the Museum.  It was all very surreal.

 

The entire scene really got my boy's juices flowing.  He had gone up to his great-granny's attic (she's that co-founder) for Haitian-knitted cell phone cases to sell that day.  She let him fill a basket high as he could, & sell each "treasure pouch" for $1.  Now we're home with a ton of treasure pouches in every color, & he wants to set up shop.  So we will.

 

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We'll set up at the farmer's market & set up an Etsy shop for him. I'd like to have some of those Primitive Ram pillows on the couch up there.  This is my friend, a Haitian-born designer who also produces Boston's Fashion Week.  He's showing True this amazing & gigantic tablecloth.  I love when they get to learn from experts talking from their expertise.  He pretty much kicked my a** when it came to setting up product displays.  There's going to be some work involved for me here.  But the opportunity to support these mamas, these friends, Granny's life work, True as a social entrepreneur, & to get past my aversion to correspondence, is too great to be cynical about.  They all have too much to offer me.

 

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umm, they did have a canoe for their wild pond + island, next to the ocean view

 

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