Vi Bella and the Heart of the Founder Behind its Mission

by | Jun 10, 2024

Learn more about Julie Hulstein, founder of Vi Bella, one of Many Hand’s partner organizations.

Many Hands for Haiti (MH4H) has always believed in the power of collaboration. This core principle extends beyond our work in Pignon, Haiti, and is beautifully exemplified by our inspiring partnership with Vi Bella, a social enterprise with a mission that resonates deeply with our own.

Vi Bella’s story is one of compassion taking root, deeply planted in the heart of its founder, Julie Hulstein. After several mission trips to Haiti in the wake of the devastating 2010 earthquake, Julie witnessed firsthand the struggles of everyday Haitians, particularly the lack of employment opportunities. One encounter, a young girl forced into unimaginable circumstances to survive, left an indelible mark. This, along with countless others, became the seed for Vi Bella – a Christ-centered organization that empowers individuals and communities through the gift of work.

Julie Hulstein, CEO of Vi Bella

“We realized the need…to create new ways to usher in transformation,” says Tim Brand, Founder & CEO of MH4H. Vi Bella’s employment opportunities are a critical piece of the puzzle, providing a foundation upon which families can build a brighter future. This aligns perfectly with MH4H’s own mission, and together, the two organizations are creating a powerful ripple effect of positive change.

“Vi Bella is a social enterprise and a job creation ministry,” explains Julie. They train artisans in Haiti and Mexico to create beautiful jewelry, sewn goods, home decor, and Christmas ornaments. But the impact goes far beyond the handcrafted products. Vi Bella artisans earn fair wages, allowing them to care for themselves and their families with dignity. This financial stability keeps families together and allows children to attend school. Vi Bella fosters a supportive community where artisans can grow not just in skill, but also in faith.

The partnership between MH4H and Vi Bella is a perfect example of “better together.” The collaboration launched in June 2023 with a “Better Together” event in Sioux Center, IA, raising funds to establish a Vi Bella artisan center on the MH4H campus in Pignon. Four experienced Vi Bella artisans traveled from Port-au-Prince to train new recruits. The results were inspiring – seven new artisans are now employed, bringing their skills and hope to the Pignon community.

“We were so excited to begin a partnership between Many Hands and Vi Bella,” says Julie. “The Many Hands leadership team has been incredibly helpful in getting this off the ground. Both teams recognize the need in the Pignon area for employment opportunities, and we pray that God allows this to grow and flourish.”

The impact of this partnership extends beyond the immediate benefits for the artisans. As Julie highlights, “Employment affords opportunity to more people than artisans.” The additional income will circulate within the community, supporting local businesses and fostering economic growth. Both MH4H and Vi Bella are committed to expanding the workforce, creating a ripple effect of positive change in Pignon.

Both Julie and the MH4H team are enthusiastic about the partnership’s potential. Julie emphasizes the value of working with “like-minded people” who understand the challenges and rewards of working in Haiti. She sees Vi Bella becoming “a small piece of the overarching mission” of MH4H, contributing to their incredible work of transformation.

“We have already seen some beautiful results of joining together,” says Julie. “Our current artisans from Port-au-Prince became trainers in Pignon, (an honor for them), and formed new friendships with the Many Hands trainees, learning together and worshiping together. We have heard reports…about artisans on the Many Hands campus who are thriving in their new jobs… What a beautiful community for them to be plugged into!”

The early signs are promising. New artisans are thriving, finding not just jobs but also a supportive community. The shared faith and values of both organizations create a foundation for a lasting and impactful partnership.

This is just the beginning of a beautiful story. By supporting Vi Bella’s artisans and MH4H’s programs, you can be a part of building a brighter future in Pignon, Haiti. Visit our websites or attend the upcoming “Better Together” event to learn more about how you can get involved. Together, we can transform lives and bring hope to a community in need.

About Many Hands:

Many Hands is an Iowa-based nonprofit creating local and global life-transformation by strengthening families.  Established in 2008, the organization focuses on six key areas for transformation, including education, agronomy, leadership development, safe homes, medical assistance, and economic development. Each year, the organization reaches at least 25,000 people through their Haitian operations, IMPACT trips, and Many Hands Thrift Markets located in Grimes, Iowa, and Spencer, Iowa. 

Many Hands is called to transform together, to be love in action, in a broken world. 

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