Empowering Artisans Through Sustainable Grass Roots Efforts in Haiti
To many, Haiti represents danger, poverty, sadness, and chaos. But the stories of the men and women artisans that make up the Artisans Business Network (ABN) tell a very different story.
Stories of progress. Stories of growth. Stories of local artisans turned global vendors. Stories that show through the work of artisans like Jean Baptiste a master voodoo flag artist, or Rony Jacques the incredibly generous and masterful metal worker, and the chic and gifted Pascale Faublas.
Theirs is a story of growth. Of continuous learning. Of passion and heart.
These artisans, and others that are part of the Artisans Business Network do more than just create stunning pieces of art for Macy's Heart of Haiti. They put their entire being into creating treasures that evoke emotion and tell of sustainable progress.
Fairwinds Trading, led by Willa Shalit and Country Director, Nathalie Tancrede, works through the support of Clinton Bush Haiti Fund to connect artisans, helping them develop their skills as businessmen and women. The ABN provides in house professional development assisting the artisans to fine tuning their process of shipping and packing for the global market and clients.
At a time of renewed political uncertainty with the resignation of the Prime Minister in Haiti, the work of Fairwinds trading and the ABN are, as Willa Shalit says, more important than ever. "Many big reconstruction projects will now slow down or stop, since there is no Prime Minister it greatly reduces confidence, but our grassroots efforts can continue full blast."
It seems to me that the ABN is a model for redevelopment and progress that could be replicated in so many communities everywhere. It is a model that is based on empowerment and accountability that comes from within. A model for growth that if you think about it, is no different than what a good teacher for a classroom of students or from what a parent might strive for with their children. Using the strengths of individuals as the foundation, the ABN scaffolds the growth of the artisans through sustained efforts to foster their success.
A model that is successful because it respects the artisans and individuals that it works with by involving them and supporting their own development instead of making decisions for them.
Time will only tell what the true impact of this grassroots effort will have. But one thing is for sure, these artisans are now successful global vendors that can feel proud of the progress that they have helped create for themselves, for their families, and for their communities.