Kiah Bailey, Oklahoma Shirt Factory
When I first found out I was going to Haiti (about a week before) I was excited about the opportunity to go back to the country that I love so much, but for a whole new purpose this time. In the past I have visited Haiti for mission trips and for vacations to visit friends, but I had no idea what to expect out of this trip or really any clue what I was going to be doing. Once I arrived with the rest of the team, and learned a little bit more about what we would be doing, I couldn't wait to visit the kids, get to know everyone, and see the production space! Seeing the Life production space and hearing from Joe (the CEO of Global Orphan Project our partner on the ground in Haiti) and Jeff (The GM of LIFE SA Allmade’s Living Wage Manufacturing Facility in Haiti) and the other workers when we visited, really opened my eyes to a side of the apparel industry I had never really paid attention to and had blinders to. You never think about the people that actually make your clothes or what their working conditions are like or what the costs are on the other end in order to get cheap apparel, so getting to learn more about that and what the working conditions are like in many other places vs. what they are like at Allmade was really eye opening.
It was also really moving for me to get to see the actual shirts being created that so many of my customers end up with as a final product. I was inspired seeing everyone’s work ethic at the production facility as well. You could tell that they were all there to work hard but at the same time they were working hard because they enjoyed their jobs and cared about what they were doing. It brought my job full circle and really helped me start to see a clearer picture to what it is that I’m doing when I sell shirts to my customers and the impact that I can have - this was only the beginning.
Getting to go to the orphanages and spend time with the kids was a really fun experience and what was even more fun for me was getting to watch everyone else interact with the kids and communicate without even knowing the same language. You could see the kids’ eyes light up just getting to be loved and having someone to hold their hand and play games with and that was one of my favorite parts of the day every day. The transition academy was another moving part of the experience. Although we weren’t there long, getting to hear from one of the students that is so motivated and driven to become a fashion designer in Haiti was so encouraging to me. You could tell that he was confident in his ability and had huge dreams that he has every intention of accomplishing despite his circumstances.
That sort of outlook just goes to show the sort of training and equipping each of those young men and women are being given through the transition academy and they aren’t going to let anything get in their way of achieving what they set out to do.
I’m excited to see what is going to come of the new facility being built next door to the current allmade facility and the vision that is behind it. I’m especially excited to see what is going to come from the furniture being made from the scraps leftover from the tshirts. The mentality of leaving no waste behind and using recycled materials is so important and is setting such an important trend for others to follow. I can’t wait to see what is going to come of it and what sort of change is taking place in the apparel industry through the work that is happening in Haiti.
I’m always amazed by the progress being made in Haiti every time I go back since the earthquake. You can tell that huge developments are being made in the country and I’m excited that there are businesses like Allmade, haiti design co., papillon, etc. that are working to maintain the artistic integrity of the country, while also providing stable, well paying jobs and working to prevent the orphan crisis from continuing!. Getting to pick the brains of all the other members of the team was awesome too. So many screen printing shops from all over were represented on the trip and I left Haiti not only feeling so excited to tell my coworkers what I learned, but to also begin implementing so much of what I learned on the trip! I will never forget this week in Haiti and all the people I met and got to interact with! I’m so thankful that I was chosen to be a part of the group about a week before I left and feel a new found purpose in my work after this week that it’s more than just a desk job and more than just being a part of a screen printing shop, but I have the ability to make a greater impact on people’s lives through every shirt that I sell!
The duality of Haiti is a phenomenon I’ll never forget. Traveling through Haiti means frequently witnessing beauty and chaos occupying the same space.
The people of Haiti radiate strength and dignity as they walk down a street that still shows unmistakable signs of devastation by way of natural disaster.
They joke and laugh with one another while more fortunate people from more prosperous nations may very well speculate that the people of Haiti have absolutely nothing to laugh about.
The children I met in our travels, those delightful little rascals, ignited a battle of emotions in me, a desperate conflict between feelings of hope, inspiration and love versus feelings of weakness and heartbreak. They display an unwavering positivity in the face of adversity well beyond the darkest depths of my imagination, and I truly believe they did far more for me than I could ever do for them, but I intend to spend the rest of my life trying.
Haiti.... I didn’t know what I was getting into when I was told I was coming here. I was confused and didn’t know what to expect. But I’m glad I made this trip. It left me feeling happy, sad, and angry all at the same time. It took me out of my shell. I didn’t know I was an emotional person until after this trip. I hate showing emotion, but I broke down in front of complete strangers on the first day. The people on this trip with me said “thank you for your heart”. I didn’t know I had one. Suffering from depression leaves you feeling hopeless but now after these 3 quick days I know I will be depression free back home. Seeing these kids find joy in a dark place gave me “hope” it gave me a new life. It gave me a new perspective on how I can love my life and I know I can find happiness any day any hour because of this trip. The best part was being with the orphans, one kid by the name of Christopher age 4 grabbed me by the hand and didn’t want to let go. He followed me everywhere I went, it was beautiful. I have two beautiful nieces and it makes me want to never let go when I hug them. I now know that you can never show to much love. I truly am thankful for this trip. I can’t wait to go to work on Monday. I will view every shirt differently now, it’s not just a fabric or a large or a small, it’s Christopher. This shirt will help him in more ways than I can imagine. It gives him hope of a better future, a better life. I didn’t know one kid could change my life like that. He will forever be in my prayers at night. I came with complete strangers and left with a bigger family.
An international trip to visit an apparel manufacturing company to see how these eco-friendly T-shirts are produced. That was the expectation. From the time I arrived, the hustle bustle busyness kicked right in. Navigating through the airport to finding our bus to leave, many faces and even more questions. Connecting with our Allmade team with a very welcoming hug and greeting was the first time I took a breath and realized, ok, we made it. Going through this journey with a group of strangers was an important comfort.
The persistent traffic to our destinations, though burdensome at times, allowed to submerge into my surroundings and really get a taste of how daily life is in Haiti (as brief of a stay as it was). The destinations: Our home away from home, LIFE SA facility, Design Co, Papillion and the most touching.... the orphanages. All of these places, while connected in similar ideas, had their impacts on the overall experience of this trip. Going through this journey with a group of industry acquaintances was an important comfort.
Each day of the trip, we enjoyed long days of consistent input from our surroundings and overall information and emotional intake. From the surprised to the sad to the laughter and all the feels in between. Nightly, having time to discuss the days activities and a number of people contribute their thoughts was just as an important part of the experience as many others. Connecting with the children, the shareholders of the work that is being created, along with those important individuals that work tirelessly to keep the wheel spinning defined what the word Purpose means to me. Defined Purpose better than I have had the opportunity to wrap my head around the idea in other events occurring prior in my life. The opportunity to spend a handful of meaningful days in a foreign country to learn about a practical, paradigm shifting movement with passion-filled, capable, selfless heroes had an immensely significant impact on my life’s moral compass. Going through this journey with a group of close friends was an important comfort.
To the leaders of the orphanages, LIFE SA, Allmade, and the organizations contributing to the success of all three; I greatly appreciate the service to the people you impact and am enamored with the opportunity for me to be even a small part of the whole process. Absolutely Amazing.
Coming into the Haiti trip, I had no idea what i was getting myself into. I had no intentions of even joining the GOEX team on this trip, but I’m glad I did. One thing I noticed instantly about Port Au Prince is that, this city has grit and grind type of feel to it. From the oldest down to the youngest. Another thing I absolutely adored were the kids. Man those kids brought out a side of me i never knew exist. One kid I’ll never forget is this little kid named Mosès. Man I can’t put into how a little man almost brought me to tears. I haven’t cried in so long, but he almost brought me to that point. One thing I noticed is that he wanted nothing but love. Everywhere I went he went. Me and him even developed our own handshake.
The love I felt was that of someone needing a big brother figure. Also big thumbs up to Ryan and Joe for being the fearless leaders they’ve been during this whole trip and the other wonderful members of ALLMADE AND GOEX. This trip really changed my perspective and outlook on life.
Since I first found out about the trip to Haiti I had a desire to come and see what this place was about regarding the need of the Haitian people that many people usually talk about in the US.
Knowing about many organizations that come here to aid this country me and my family were excited about the opportunity that was opened by Allmade.
Wanting to come on the prior trip but unable because of timing issues and within his three weeks before I had totally considered finally making this trip.
My first impression while arriving notice the terrain then the houses or what’s left of them. While we called them houses they are nothing more that two rooms made up of materials like roof metal sheets or cardboard, pieces of leftover wood or anything that cold somehow block light into room. They are not houses but their home, a deeper meaning that goes beyond physical structures.
This is when they eat, sleep and raise this family, they are used to what they have yet still working providing for their loved ones and themselves.
People greeted us at airport and feel the sense of security not because you see armed guards but the opposite and friendliness of the people.
We drove to the place where we stayed we saw the need around the streets and the Desire of the Haitian people to work for survival by selling on the markets which are not more makeshift selling spots around the main streets.
My understanding of aid had been just being as much money and goods to them as possible to help but I was wrong because that only promotes more poverty because you are giving a man a fish and not teaching him how to fish for a long term self sustainability.
This is the whole objective of this trip made possible by Allmade which has the factory here and provides a dignified employment facility whose employees are compensated fairly and that way they prevent families from being separated because of lack of work.
This way helps families by giving them work and prevents kids from being orphans (these kids are not just the ones who lose their parents but also those whose parents believe their kids are better of at an orphanage facility where they will have a better future ) and there are other kids that are abandoned in the mountains.
Or left at the door of an orphanage.
The orphanages we visited were filled with kids as young as 1 year old and 18 years old My first thought before getting off the bus was, we did not bring them presents or anything for them to play with and thought they would upset or cry when we leave.
The minute we got off they were grabbing our hands and some hugging and some even wanted to be carried.
We did not speak their language but love was our best interpreter.
We could feel all they needed was love and tenderness.
They felt secured with each one us by playing, laughing and some had the opportunity to lend our arms and legs to let them take a nap.
I was one of them who they chose in two different locations to take naps on.
After playing soccer, getting braided, draw, done crochet, We left both places and not a single kid cried or was sad when we left but were very happy saying goodbye.
That for me meant they were happy where they are and we’re not relying on things we could’ve brought to make them happy. All they wanted was a great time with someone who cared for them.
Love can be felt in so many ways, that kind of love where there are no walls. Walls of social class, race, language, sex, religion, intellect. A kind of love that is selfless, not self seeking.Going to Haiti with my family was a wonderful experience of love.
When my husband told me I was going to Haiti I was so excited. I didn’t really no what to expect but I knew that God has a purpose for everything beyond our understanding. The couple days that we were there with my family. Where one the most meaningful days we have had. As a family this trip gave us a clearer view of God’s vision for us.
I am so thankful with Allmade with what they are doing. Especially getting the opportunity to be part of this trip, and cause. If Allmade was summed up into one word it would be Love. They give of a constant outpour of it. Also the people who help out based in Haiti who leave their normal to submerge themselves in the everyday life of this beautiful country. They aren’t just helping others in Haiti but inspiring everyone who not just goes on these trips but who hear their story and what they are all about.
We met Joe, who is such a inspiring person who walks with humility and grace. He emulates the greatest servant Jesus in his actions, words, and interactions. He is a beautiful example of God’s love.
The Brave Team
I will always remember every person that came on this trip. We started of as total strangers and left us close. Personally I think we were all connected in one vision one vision of love and service to others. They were a blessing for me to be part of this team that they will be part of my memories that I will remember forever. May God bless them in everything they do.
The ChildrenThe time I spent with the kids I still have with me. I have every face, every smile, every hug and laugh on my mind. That experience with them is that is driving us to be part of change in other countries. They inspire hope, love, thankfulness, joy ,compassion, kindness, friendship, unity, faith. Even though we were strangers the kids treated us like family. Every place we went we were inspired: each child, each mother, each employee, each teen.
I fell in love in what God has planned for us. As a family and as a business we want to make a difference. This is only the first trip and I know God has more in store for us.