My goal in restarting the sewing school in Haiti was to serve women who need a way to support themselves and their families. Rather than sending money to support an orphan, my desire is to help women to be able to support their family and not feel they have no choice but to put their child up for adoption. During this trip, I interviewed several of the women to begin to understand their life situations.
This is Rosette. She is forty years old and has been married for eighteen years. She has two teenage children. Her husband and children have moved to Brazil, but she stayed behind in Haiti because her parents’ house burned down and she needs to stay to help them rebuild it. She expects to rejoin her family in two years. She was not one of the original twenty-five to enroll in the school but was very hopeful that she could join. She would like to earn a treadle machine and have a home based business.
This is Valine. At fifty years old, I believe she is the oldest student. She has two children, a sixteen year old daughter and a nine year old son. Her husband is “underemployed” as a teacher.
This is Confident. Each morning the women began with singing and prayer, and she led them. She is thirty-two years old and has an eight year old daughter and a six year old son. Her husband is a public school teacher. She lives near the church in Hatt (which is where our teacher Marie Lourdes attends) but does not attend there.
Here is Lia with her completed pillow case. She is 26 years old and single, and has an eighteen month old son. She had been living with her mother and her son in the countryside. Her sister attends the church in Hatt and registered for the sewing school, but she gave up her spot for Lia so she could make a better life for herself and her son. Lia is now living with her sister in Hatt while her mother cares for her son in the countryside so she can attend the school.
On Tuesday, Darline, pictured here, was wearing a black and white dress that Kay admired. She offered to buy it from her for twenty dollars. I sat next to Darline in Bible study on Wednesday and she had a twenty dollar bill that she was turning over and over in her hands.
On Thursday I sat with Darline to hear her story. I learned that she has a six month old son at home and no husband. She is 22 years old and very intelligent and motivated. She attended university for the first year but didn’t have enough money to continue. She lives in Delmas 31 and attends the Church of God Celestial Army.
After I left, Reggie talked to her further. He learned that when the baby’s father found out they were expecting, he bought a motorcycle to earn money as a taxi, and he was killed in a motorcycle accident. Darline is desperate to find a way to support her baby. Reggie asked her why she didn’t put her son in the orphanage and she was quite emphatic that she wanted to keep him. I would like to offer Darline a position as an assistant to the teacher with responsibilities for setting up and cleaning up each day of school, since the children from the orphanage need to use the space to play in when school is over, so we can’t have pins left on the floor. I am hoping to allow her to earn enough to support her baby and keep attending the school.
Women like Darline are the reason this school exists. All of the women have a desire to have their own business, and my goal is to train each of them to sew and then get them a treadle sewing machine. I would also like to provide them with projects to make and outlets for selling them. Some of the products may be marketable in Haiti, while others could be sold in the states. I am planning to look into setting up a non-profit and finding out what it takes to import and sell what they make. In the meantime, I am using Forest Beach Cottage Quilts to earn money to pay the teachers from what I make for sale. I have been greatly blessed to have the time and resources to enjoy quilting as a hobby, and I would like to leverage that to help these women.