When we partnered with Zanmi Project last year to provide support for New Hope Orphanage, we never could have dreamed all the blessings ahead of us. Every step of the way has been fulfilling and rewarding. To see all the small steps in the right direction has made every challenge along the way worth it.
Early on, we discussed ways that Edgard and Lisa could generate income for their large family. This is a struggle even with the BEST plan because of the economy in Haiti. There are no ‘get rich quick’ money schemes. Everything is just tougher; finding supplies, shipping items, spreading the word… Even with the best product to sell, people don’t typically reach groups with plenty of disposable income to sell to.
Kristin Lee (Zanmi Project) and I (April Cooper) have put our heads together many times to try and think of something new and different that Lisa could do that would bring in money. Because things are much different in Haiti, we have always had to thoughtfully consider the challenges she may face selling any product, no matter what it is. Lisa had mentioned to us that she could make girls’ dresses pretty quickly if she had a sewing machine. She believed she could sell them and also use this skill to make clothes for the kids at New Hope.
So, our first step was getting Lisa a sewing machine. Late last year, we applied for a grant with Buy the Change Foundation to do just that. Thankfully, their board approved our request! With the grant money, Lisa was able to purchase two sewing machines! Before our trip, we asked supporters to donate sewing supplies and fabric to get Lisa started. The response was great! We had bags of fabric and other supplies to give her.
When we arrived at New Hope, Lisa had many of the items she had made laid out on her bed to show us. She was very proud of her handy work and we were so proud of her! On this trip, Buy the Change’s co-founder Kari Hughes traveled with us. We all stood around Lisa’s bed and chatted about how Buy the Change could partner with her to sell her products on their site. Kari had a bag she wanted Lisa to try and duplicate. Helen traveled in from South Carolina with Kristin on this trip and brought some beautiful, colorful fabric she had purchased on clearance for only $4 for the entire bolt. Kari loved the colors and patterns and wanted Lisa to make as many bags as she could out of it.
Lisa was excited to get started! The next time we came, she had completed 3 bags and cut out patterns for 25 more. Kari paid her for every single one. Lisa had officially received her first paycheck and it was a substantial one! The happy cheers could be heard through the house when she pulled them out to show Kari. They were exactly like the sample bag! The strap can be tied to make the bag longer/shorter so the bag can lay where you like across the body.
This partnership will be ongoing and Lisa will be able to sew bags as she’s able. They’ll be up for purchase on the website very soon. New fabrics will be sent to her through the year and she can take pride in knowing that she plays a large role in providing for her family. Thank you, Kari & Buy the Change for empowering women like Lisa.