The list is drafted at 3:15pm, just before the Papillon artisans are wrapping up a day of work. The work day is slightly shorter than a typical workplace in Haiti. The foundation of the business as one employing mothers who were fighting to keep their kids fed and out of orphanages established its culture around its employees. Kids were coming home from school and moms needed to get home to help with their homework, do the wash and prepare the food. Normally the artisans were raring to wrap things up quickly and get out the door. Today they were waiting for the list to be released. They had heard it was going to be a good day.
This past year has been a tough one. Political situations in Haiti have hurt Papillon’s business which in turn has hurt the artisans and their families. Last year, they were averaging 4-5 days of work per week. This past month, the hardest of all months because of the rioting and lack of tourism, most of the artisans were averaging about the same amount of days per month. The toll it was taking was heavy. School fees were due, kids were going hungry, and rent was going to need to be paid soon. There was no way to come up with all that they needed.
But the list offered hope. “Beatrice, Adeline, Josephine… you can come in tomorrow.”
Name after name was called…
About fifty artisans were called in to work on jewelry for the whole week. About 90 more got three days of work. The relief was felt deeply. The prayers had been heard.
A simple order from a large retail client had come through today and brought much needed jobs to very hopeful mothers (and fathers). The sewing team had totes and unicorns to make. The jewelry team and metal stamping team were making hundreds of bracelets with unique custom-made charms. The screen-printing team was working on an order of inspirational canvas clutch bags and a t-shirt order. The pottery team was making vases and mugs, and the bead department was busy hand rolling thousand of beads that would go into making the bracelets.
A sigh of relief was had by all. Several of the ladies had called a prayer meeting during the lunch break the week before. The hands had gone up and their voices had burst into a familiar hymn. They believed that their God could hear them. And he did.
This week they would work.
After that, the future was unclear, but getting more hopeful.
Somewhere in America a buyer for a large fair-trade company sits on her computer and adds things to her cart of wholesale goods. The internet has made it so easy to connect buyers to fair trade artisan groups. Twenty years ago, this would not have even been possible. Still, if our buyer only knew the ramifications of each item that gets carefully selected, she would be so encouraged. A child goes to school, a baby gets fed, a mother pays rent. With each click of the mouse on her computer, she brings hope.
Today I want to say a big thank you to our incredible wholesale buyers who literally change the world for our artisans. They don’t get to see the looks of joy and relief on the faces as the daily “list” is read each day. Our buyers quietly order and boldly advocate for artisans all over the world. They are the bridge that brings the vulnerable people to the market and allow them to have a place in the global economy.
We are blessed by so many incredible partners and buyers. We could not do what we do without you! We are so grateful and want to offer a heartfelt THANK YOU for your determination to change the world, one purchase at a time.