I sat across from Grace yesterday afternoon. She and Alcindort had come to see me about a tragic situation that they were facing in their line of work with women’s cancers.
I first met Grace last October. I was recovering from my operation for cervical cancer and felt passionate about women in Haiti (where cervical cancer is an epidemic) and the care that they were getting here in Haiti. Grace works with Dr. Vince at Project Medishare to provide women with the cancer treatment that they need- including chemotherapy. It is one of the only places in Haiti where women can get this kind of care. It was down at Bernard Mevs Hospital that I met her for the first time and toured the facilities, wondering how my survival story and challenges might intersect the work that she does to be able to offer women in Haiti better care.
The first thing that we collaborated on was getting ALL of the women in our artisan facility screened for cervical and breast cancer. Miraculously, all of them were ok. A few- including Denise- will need to go back in six months just for observation, but none of them showed signs of definite cancer. This was a miracle in itself.
A few months have flown and out of the blue, Grace messaged me.
We met at 4pm and she began to tell me the story.
She has about fifty women who are currently active in chemotherapy treatment. Many of these women are abandoned by their spouses and significant others following diagnosis of cancer because of the stigma and misinformation about the disease. Public shaming, humiliation, and domestic violence are just a few of the things that Grace has had to help her patients work through, particularly if they are terminal or have had mastectomies. Not only do the women have to endure all of this, but many of them, who are metastatic have to deal with the fact that they know they are dying, have been abandoned by their spouses, and have to think of what is going to become of their children when they pass. Family members are often reluctant to take on the children as they know that they can’t afford school for the kids, and the kids become particularly vulnerable to abandonment or domestic servitude.
Grace was reading me the names. Esther. Melissa. Zephyr. Monica….. all young mothers, mostly in their early 30s with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer who were alone trying to take care of their children. All of them grieving for their lives and grieving for what will become of their children.
My eyes welled up with tears. I saw Grace’s eyes well up too. She finished up her story asking if I could think of some way to collaborate on behalf of these children and these precious mothers knowing that our whole mission is about orphan prevention.
After about 30 minutes of brainstorming, we thought of an idea. We want to create an accessory line and employ these particular women who are going through chemotherapy to make this particular line of accessories. We are looking for partners who would be willing to help us market and sell this line of product with the caveat that not only do we pay the ladies well enough to take care of their kids while they are still here, but that we create a fund with the profits of the jewelry that will then go into an education fund for these children. This is no small task, as it is administratively intense, and will need scrutiny and oversight to be sure that the funds get to right place to meet the needs of these precious vulnerable children.
But we are willing.
We are just in the beginning of the planning stages of how this might work, but we are committed in our mission of orphan prevention and in my personal mission to help women with cancer and want to figure out how we can make this work
If you are interested in becoming a retailer of this line of jewelry, I would love to collaborate with you on how we can make this work. The sobering reality of this project paired with the holiness of caring for people in this intense situation makes me just feel grateful that I am right here right now and I really want to make a difference.
Esther 4:14 rings in my ears daily.
Perhaps this is that very moment for which you were created? For such a time as this.