Hours upon hours go into preparing for our annual Threads of Blessing (TOB) workshop in Haiti, but when all is said and done, these pictures capture the heart of why we love going to Merci de Dieu. As our team in the states is busy gathering all the necessary supplies to put on a workshop – 120 tote bags, 6,000 skeins of embroidery floss, yards and yards of fabric, 120 blue towels for the practice tutorial, 120 hoops, scissors, rulers, bandannas, 360 embroidery needles, 120 tracts of Campus Crusade’s 4 Spiritual Laws in English and Creole, packets of Handi-Wipes, 120 laminated cards illustrating the 7 Basic Stitches for Hand-Embroidery, and the list goes on; the ladies in Haiti are sewing anywhere from 100 hours to 400 hours on a single piece of embroidery art in hopes that it will sell here in the states and help provide food, education and medical help for their children. They are so excited to show you what they are working on plus the many pieces they have produced since our last visit to the village.
After the 2010 earthquake hit in this area of Haiti, most of the families lost their homes, their source of income if they were fortunate to be employed, and loved ones. They ended up in Tent Cities and home was now a piece of tarp or metal sheeting. Food and clean drinking water was even more scarce than before. Crime was a major problem in the Tent Cities, so children, especially girls and young women were often attacked and raped. The one comment that Dr. John and Pastor Etienne heard from parents when they were invited to move into the village was, “Now we have a metal door to lock at night”. With unemployment anywhere from 50 to 70%, there is little hope of finding work to care for your family. Husbands will go out each day in hopes of finding masonry jobs, driving a tap-tap (their bus system), or being a taxi driver (motorcycles are their taxis), but even this small amount of income cannot provide for a family of 4. When TOB was introduced to the Haitian ladies in November of 2014, they were not sure what hand-embroidery was all about but were eager to learn something that could possibly provide some income for their families. In just 14 months, these ladies have found joy, hope and satisfaction in producing beautiful pieces of hand-embroidery that are now being made into pillows, tote bags, framed pieces, and sewn onto jean jackets.
The average annual income for a family of 4 in this area of Haiti is around $400. It is understandable why the families in the village of Merci de Dieu are in need of sponsorships for their basic needs plus education for their children, but our hope is the funds the ladies receive from their pieces will offer a chance to begin their own micro industries to be more self-sustaining. In our most recent TOB workshop in March, one of our team members spoke with the ladies about how to manage their finances; setting aside a tithe, begin a small savings account, pooling their resources in a co-op method to allow for a more expensive purchase that could benefit the village-at-large.
We definitely have our “Rock Star” ladies who have the God-given talents of design and creativity, and are producing exceptional pieces – which are quickly claimed by team members, whom are the first to see their work! We encourage these gifted ladies to help the ones who are struggling and become their teachers. Many are even teaching their own sons and daughters to sew which adds to the family funds.
The end result is definitely the most rewarding! After we market their pieces through craft shows or friends hosting Trunk Shows, or posting them on our “Threads of Blessing- Haiti” Facebook page; we return to Haiti with their money and pictures of you, the purchaser. This is the highlight moment in all we do! Each lady who has sold her pieces, receives a beautiful Threads of Blessing notecard, with a description of what sold, pictures of the purchaser holding their work of art, thank-you note cards to write to the buyers, and of course the money they received from their pieces! TOB sees itself as the facilitator and it is not our business, it belongs to the Haitian women. The TOB ladies in the village have their own Haitian leader for every 20 ladies. These leaders oversee the administrative responsibilities of workshops and gather everyone’s work that is to be sold in the states. There is an air of excitement when we all gather in the church (our sewing room) and envelopes are handed to those whose pieces have sold. The look on their faces as they open the envelopes is priceless! If someone’s piece has not sold, the TOB Haitian leaders will help them to improve on their piece in hopes it will sell on the next trip. We are continually reminding the ladies that this business is a gift from God and encourage them to tithe 10% to the One who made it all possible!
We thank all of you who have purchased their pieces and recognize that we are all part of this team called Threads of Blessing. Without your interest and love for these ladies and their work, this would not be successful. We wish all of you could come to Merci de Dieu with us and witness the beautiful hearts of these ladies. I can tell you that those who have gone to meet the TOB ladies in the village have been changed forever as they love and serve them, laugh and cry with them and witness the mighty work of God in all that is happening there! The invitation is always open if the Holy Spirit leads you to join us!
Blessings and more blessings from the team of Threads of Blessings – Haiti!