- 2018 Mizak and Bainet Eyeglass Clinic
- 2018 Cazale, Haiti Eyeglass Clinic
- 2018 M2M/C2C Upcoming Mission Trips
- 2017 Real Hope for Haiti
- Who We Are
- July 2014 photos of Cazale, Mizak and Bainet
- Visiting Haiti
- Programs we support
- July 2013 photos
- Bainet 2012
- Mizak January 2012 Photos
- Many Thanks
- Special Request
- July 2012 photos
- How you can help
- July 2011
- More photos and video
- July 2011 photos
- June 2011
- Reflections on Haiti 2011
- The Six Sisters
HAPI Kredi is a microlending initiative of HAPI (Haitian Artisans for Peach International) to stimulate entrepreneurial, economic activity. The earthquake destroyed many small businesses, especially of market women. They have no means to restart. HAPIKredi is part of the solution. For more information on HAPI, go to http://haitianartisans.com
EMPOWERING HAITIANS through HAPI Kredi
Eddy is the principal accountant of HAPI (Haitian Artisans for Peace International) and a very influential man in Mizak. An idea was introduced to Mountains to Mountains by Eddy where individuals could come to HAPI and propose a business plan to obtain a microfinancing loan for their project. For example, if someone sees a need in the Mizak area, they write up a proposal, bring it before Eddy and he either approves or denies the proposal. The individual(s) is only given enough money to start-up the program. It is up to them to make a profit and pay their loan back. So far, there has been 100% repayment. Mountains to Mountains agreed to fund the microfinancing program. This program has allowed Haitians to support their families which empowers the Haitians and facilitates the Haitians in determining their own future. If you feel led to support this program, please go to the HAPI website and make a contribution.
Mountains to Mountains also supports the Women's Co-op which gives women a working salary. The women create embroidered note cards. Trinity United Methodist Church in Ronceverte, as well as, several other churches whose members belong to Mountains to Mountains sell these cards. All profits go back to HAPI to support these women. Here is a sample of a card made by one of the women:
Ever since I was in high school, I felt drawn to mission work combined with art,” she explains. “But it wasn't until I turned 56 that I finally got to do it full time as a volunteer with HAPI -- Haitian Artisans for Peace International.”
Now VerLee has launched a new venture: Creative Women of the World (CWOW) recently opened a kiosk in center court at Glenbrook Square to sell beautiful items created by the women of Sierra Leone, Sudan, Mexico, Turkey, India and other underdeveloped countries.
A former art teacher and entrepreneur -- her “Friend to Friend” handmade cards were marketed in the United States and exported to three countries -- VerLee is married to Ron, a United Methodist pastor. Daughter of missionaries, VerLee has traveled extensively, promoting her business and engaging in numerous mission trips abroad.
“(I) enjoyed both,” she admits, “but none seemed to fulfill that combined calling.”
In 2007, she was invited to Haiti to help start an artisan-based organization.
“I help train the artisans in artistic and business-management skills,” she explains.
“I show them how to tap into their creative spirit and think outside the box to find solutions. For artisans who had little educational background, they had a hard time thinking beyond how to survive. They did not see the connection of how their God-given creativity was actually a gift that could get them out of the burden of extreme poverty.”
VerLee educated the Haitian artisans about quality and originality, helping them develop a distinctive style. A U.S. distribution center was established to sell HAPI products nationwide.
“They have learned the importance of creating an original design that is distinctly Haitian but has the quality of construction that American consumers have come to expect,” she says. “Even in Haiti, their style of embroidery is unique to HAPI artisans and is gaining a respected reputation.”
A HAPI success story
Through HAPIKredi, a micro-finance loan program, one of the Haitian artists, Jacqueline, borrowed $75 to fund the creation of a design for messenger bags made from recycled coffee bean bags. She hired a tailor, took the products to a special boutique and sold every bag.
With the proceeds she paid for doctor's visits and medicine for her sick children, re-paid the loan, and bought more coffee bean bags to launch the next round of bags.
“Because she understood the power of creativity and tenaciously worked hard on finding solutions, she found the joy of a sustainable business,” says VerLee.
Jacqueline now employs six tailors, ten embroiderers and a number of helpers in her community.
“I just got an order here in American for 2,000 of those bags,” says VerLee, “... because Jacqueline thought of what could be rather than what was!”
A new venture
VerLee's work with HAPI attracted the attention of people in other countries, and she accepted the challenge of expanding the vision with CWOW.
“It is dedicated to sharing stories and selling products made by artisans from around the world,” she explains. “CWOW will expand business opportunities for women by providing grants and incentives to the communities where the artisans work.”
Unlike many charities which focus on the needs of a community, both HAPI and CWOW practice asset-based community development – identifying the assets of a community, building from that point.
Many products are environmentally friendly and sell for less than $50. A woman in Mexico, for example, makes crocheted purses, weaving in pop tabs. Others in Tajikistan employ an ancient technique of tanning leather to make handbags. Turkish women rescued from the sex trade make jewelry while living in a safe house.
A Way Out
“Jesus knew the reality of life meant there would always be poor,” VerLee says, “but the Bible clearly states... that all belongs to God. When some of us are given a lot that is meant for us to responsibly take care of others.”
In times of disaster, we are called to provide relief, she explains, but “it is much more powerful to [provide] what will give the poor dignity and freedom.” HAPI and CWOW want to provide a sustainable way for those in extreme poverty to throw off those shackles.
“Charity has not worked,” she says. “Charity is not sustainable.”
“I want them to feel empowered to risk and build an ethical, profitable and sustainable business that will more than adequately feed their children and give them an education,” she says. “I long to see women become effective leaders ... creating a culture of possibility rather than passive resignation.”