Back in late 2009 I had the privilege of visiting the island of Haiti on a buyer's trip. I have to say it was one of the most amazing islands in the Caribbean .....and I was lucky enough to visit a lot of the Caribbean islands over the years.
Out on the streets itself it was clear to see that the people were poor, and they were trying to etch a living out of very little.
Those with a little entrepreneurial spirit had their stores set up on the streets.
The streets of Port-au-Prince are busy with activity.
But nothing gets you used to seeing UN vehicles around the streets.
At the end of a busy hot day out and about though, it was amazing to come back to the hotel. Breath a sigh of relief as we walked back into the sanctuary.
There were so many beautiful sculptures all over the place. Stone carvings in the gardens....
and full size wood carvings and metal work in the reception....
The most gorgeous thing in the reception area were these little ponds full of floating bougainvillea flowers.
Back out in the garden though, the views out across Port-au-Prince were spectacular.
I was traveling there as a buyer. At the time I was General Manager (and thus the buyer) of a chain of gift shops in St.Maarten, called Shipwreck Shops. We had 16 stores and 52 employee's. We carried a variety of merchandise from books, magazines, beach toys, and resort wear to Caribbean handicrafts. Haiti is indeed the capital of Caribbean handicrafts. The depth of their artistic talent is incredible.
Here is a Haitian lady painting cute little gecko's onto metal work.
And this guy is doing decorative metalwork. This is one of Haiti's most distintive art forms.
I loved my visit to Haiti. We visited marketplaces, homes and galleries (streetside) of so many artists. The depth of talent is incredible.
Just a month after my visit though, Port-au-Prince was shaken to the core. A 7.0 magnitude earthquake with an epicenter only 16 miles west of the city, flattened everything. Their already fragile existence was horrifically changed forever. This is what that stunning hotel I had stayed in looked like after the earthquake.
Each floor crumbled on top of the other, like a stack of pancakes. 220 people died there. That could have been me! Can you even begin to imagine how these already poor people endured afterwards? How many children lost their parents?
I have a soft spot for Haiti. Since 2014 I have been sponsoring children to go to school in Haiti, through The Mission Haiti.
Did you know these facts about Haiti?
- More than 80% of schools are privately run and many rural regions have no schools at all.
- The cost of public and private education is more than 40% of a rural households income for a single child.
- More than 400,000 children between six and eleven have never attended school.
- More than half of Haiti's citizens are illiterate and in rural areas, illiteracy is often as high as 90% of the population.
- More than 60% of children who begin school will be forced to drop out before completing the 6th grade.
- Only 2% of students ever reach high school graduation.
I love The Mission Haiti's scholarship program. They are a 501c3 scholarship program which provides over 1000 students in Haiti the chance to start school and stay in school each year. Just $175 a year buys this...
- a year of school tuition and fees at a local Haitian school.
- two uniforms hand made in Haiti by local seamstresses and tailors
- a pair of school shoes
- school exam fee's
One love Haiti x
UPDATE 21 August 2019....
Just wanted to give you a quick update on the FUNDRAISER we have been doing for children in Haiti.... the day after my blog post story went out, I got this email from the Director of The Mission Haiti....
"Good morning, Kim! I just wanted to let you know that we had someone give a full scholarship this morning because of your blog post. I am so thankful! I am going to email the new sponsor this morning and introduce her to this little guy who will be going to school for the very first time because of her and you!
He is almost 8 and he has never been able to attend school before. He is one of 6 children in a family and only one has ever attended school. We have found sponsors for the two older kids in the family this year, but not for any of the four smaller ones. I am so delighted that Luckson will be in school and learning and growing! I've attached a picture of him with his siblings and mama below. Thank you, Kim for making this possible for him. How exciting!"
You cannot imagine how good that made me feel.
Can you even begin to imagine life as this mamma with 6 babies, and not being able to afford to have them learn how to read and write. She must be feeling so relieved have little Luckson off to school this year!!
Isn't that amazing. I am very proud.... THANK YOU so much to our island friend out there who made this happen !!
You guys are amazing....
If anyone else whats to do this amazing sponsorship program, it costs $175. Here is the link.