Updated: Nov 27, 2019
"Men Anpil Chay Pa Lou." means "many hands make the load lighter," in Haitian Creole.
Earlier this year, I found out that my 37-year old hands had the rich DNA of Haitian ancestry running through them. It was a identity breakthrough, three decades in the making, that I had no idea would ever come, and yet did with more surprises then I could imagine. Never in a million years would I have imagined that my deep love for slowing down, my connection to the ocean and the tropical breeze, my favorite tree being a palm, would be because the islands and its culture was a part of my makeup. But alas, it is, and I am so proud to have that missing piece and to fully step in to what it means to identify as a Haitian-American.
In owning my heritage and fully embracing who I am, I've also had to reconcile what I know to be true about Haiti. Based on my limited knowledge (and what I am fed by the media to the truth about the country and its history) and by doing my own research, learning on my own through books and conversation and putting myself in situations where I can immerse myself into as many experiences as possible, I have learned so much about Haiti and have fallen in love with this complicated country.
She is rich. She is beautiful. She is courageous. She is a fighter. She is misunderstood, but holds so much depth and has poured herself into building others up.
How beautiful to identify with a country in such a way that you find yourself in her story in every sense of the word.
Haiti is in a tight spot, but there are so many ways that our hands can rise up to support this country. It can be hard to know how what to do or to guarantee that what we are doing by way of donations and aid are being sent and used to help the families that need it, but over the last couple of months, I have worked to seek out organizations that I can personally come behind and personally support and today I wanted to give you tangible ways that you can also add your hands to loving this country and its people (in a small way) if you find Haiti on your heart too.
Below are artisans and makers who are doing work on the ground to provide jobs to Haitians and to help not only put food on the table of many, but also provide support, health-care services and safety:
Haiti Design Company is a socially-conscious artisan workshop in Port au Prince, Haiti that sells ethically-made leather goods, jewelry, handbags, and homewares.
Gift of Hope is offering mothers and children the confidence, dignity, and hope to remain a family. Gift of Hope is more than fair trade. It's more than employment. At its roots, Gift of Hope is designed as a holistic approach to break the cycle of poverty. Lives are not only being changed because of income, but also through discipleship, education, and the investment of relationships. We at Gift of Hope believe children were created for FAMILY. Poverty should not create orphans. Every purchase matters.
Organizations/ initiatives you can give to are below:
Our mission is to be a community initiative that is aimed at empowering local leaders and families through discipleship, education and job creation.
My hope one day is to join my friend, Marcella annually, as she goes to Haiti to support the work that is being done there with her organization. I found Marcella one day when I was "eavesdropping" online on a convo about presets and women of color and felt like God sent me to her Instagram page. When I got to there, her byline mentioned her personal passion for Haiti and I had to do research. Since then, she has educated and been a wonderful source of information for me on what is going on in Haiti on the ground. I recently was able to support two families with rice by making a small donation and hope to soon sponsor a child for school, when they are finally able to return.
Simple donations, major impact.
My new friend Germanie, who lives in Washington with me and has been teaching me and giving me insight on Haitian culture, was adopted when she was 4 years old and brought to the United States. Earlier this year, she was able to return to Haiti to meet her birth-mother and her siblings. God put a huge longing in her heart to put Haiti back on the map and she is starting with fundraising to build her Haitian family a home. You can read more of her story here, but this is a tangible way that you can help someone with a face and make a huge difference.
This is the time of year where we make list of all the things we want, but this year, what I want most is to humanize a country where my ancestors have come from and to change the narrative of our beloved Haiti.
If my small voice can tell a different story, then these hands can help carry the load.
Bondye beni an Ayiti,