The ladies from the Many Hands Market in Spencer, Iowa are well aware of the work that goes into making a business thrive. By interacting with customers and handling product, they are the rockstars that make the Market unique! Today, the team received an unique opportunity to meet the artisans who make some of the Haitian artwork sold in Spencer. Read about their amazing day below.
To read yesterday’s blog, click here.
Early morning alarm clocks, and the noisy roosters, had us up and at ‘em, and on the road to Port-au-Prince at 6am. It’s only 60 miles away, but the condition of the roads makes it a 3 1/2 hour ride. Add a quick stop for some breakfast, a bathroom stop, and a quick repair to a tire, and it was closer to a 4 hour ride!
Our first stop was Rosie’s Boutique, which is owned by a lady originally from Rock Rapids, Iowa. Her mom helps her quite a bit, and we learned that her sister is Bert Meyer from Spencer! Fun to make that connection! Rosie’s Boutique sells jewelry, t-shirts, salsa and home decor, all made by Haitians. They are helping the local artists to be self supporting, and their wares are beautiful! Another fun surprise…they served Blue Bunny ice cream! If you’re in the area, they also have a store in Rock Rapids!
Our second stop was Gift of Hope, run by a family from Michigan. They receive high quality fabric remnants, and employ Haitians to make bags, purses, and totes of every size and shape. They also sell clothing and jewelry, all Haitian made. The women are learning skills that allow them to support their families. Gift of Hope also runs House of Hope, which is a creche, a home for orphans, and infants who need nutritional and medical attention. They facilitate adoptions for the orphans, and return the other children to their families when they are healthy.
If you shop at Many Hands Market in Spencer, you’ve seen items from Papillion, our last stop in Port. On the Papillion compound, they have a pottery studio, a screen printing shop, have several jewelry making rooms, and they sell the metal art. They employ 240 Haitians to make their goods, work in their cafe, even give tours of the workshops! They have 3 daycare centers on site, for their employees with children! We had a tasty lunch in their rooftop cafe before we left. It was a very impressive operation!
All three shops are empowering Haitian families, giving them the skills and resources to support themselves and their families. The stories behind the origins of each shop were inspiring, and we “boosted the economy” a bit by doing a little shopping! The items will mean a lot more to us now, having met the artists behind the scenes!
Driving to and from Port, is an experience you don’t forget. Picture winding mountain roads, like you might find in Colorado, but without center lines or speed limits! If the guy in front of you is going too slow, just honk and step on the gas. You can pass him whenever, and wherever you want! But try to ignore the traffic and enjoy the beauty of the bougainvillea covered mountains, and take in the activity, the colors and the noisy excitement of a city with 4.5 million people.
It rained on our way home, which adds another facet to the conditions of the roads. But we did get an awe inspiring double rainbow as a treat! Not many of the roads are paved, so with rain, they turn to a greasy, sloppy, muddy mess. Hard to drive a van full of 14 women through that stuff! So, in true Haitian tradition, we went to Plan B! We loaded up into a pick up truck, with 4-wheel drive, and I know we did a lot of talking to Jesus, before we arrived home safely!
But we didn’t have to worry about getting home safely. God had already sent His promise that He would never forsake us! He sent us a double promise with those rainbows! Bondye Bon indeed!