The rawness of Haiti is unlike anything I had ever experienced. The assaulting heat, the impressive traffic, and the passion of the people, it wrecked me to my core. I had traveled to many other countries before, and all of them had a great impact on me, but there was something special about Haiti. Something that intrigued me so intensely that I moved there after my first visit.
Moving to Haiti
When I arrived in 2012, I had no idea that my life would continue to be radically changed. I showed up with high hopes and a naive understanding of what it meant to be a developing country. Like many Americans, I associated material poverty, with just that-material things. What I was unaware of was the vast amount of psychological and social hardships that laid just beneath the surface. The World Bank asked 60,000 people living in economic poverty what it means to “be poor”. The answers were astounding. They identified being poor with; feelings of helplessness, a lack of dignity, oppression, broken relationships, and being set up for failure.
It became evident that we can not begin to address poverty until we can define it. Addressing material poverty by throwing material things at it, may help for the day, but what happens tomorrow? It goes back to the old saying “Give a man a fish, he will eat for the day, teach a man to fish, he will eat for a lifetime”. I would like to go even a step further and suggest that the man already knows how to fish. What if we; give the man access to the global market so he can not only eat, but also build wealth, education, and a future.
Developing My Passion
This became my passion. I began to think, how can I humbly use my knowledge, skills, and access to the developed world to advocate for others until they can advocate for themselves. How could I work as a support system, a change agent, a bridge to bring long-lasting positive change into communities. It is an ever evolving process. No one has all the answers. But, what I do know is that it must start with empowerment. Real, true empowerment. Not the kind that just looks good on the outside, or takes nice shiny photos, but the kind of empowerment that is in the trenches, getting knees dirty. Time-consuming empowerment.
Through this journey, I have found job creation to be at the forefront of creating this positive change. I have seen first-hand the way lives are changed. When people have jobs, they are not only building financial stability, they are also breaking down the barriers that keeps them from fulfilling their dreams. They are able to loosen the chains of oppression, and become active members in their families, and communities. This change brings the promise of empowerment for them as individuals and also society as a whole.
You can be part of this long-lasting, sustainable change. It is easy. Simply be intentional about where you are buying, and who you are buying from. Choose to buy products from companies that help break the poverty cycle. At Allmade, our makers earn 3-4x the going rate for similar jobs in the area, an amount carefully calculated to meet the basic needs of a Haitian household.