My name is Katelyn Hollis, I’ll be the chief contributing writer to the Haiti Design Co-op journal.
My role here at Haiti Design Co-op has been evolving since I stepped on board as a volunteer one year ago. My love for this place goes deep, and my heart for Haiti goes deeper. My life in Haiti began in June 2014 through working with an orphanage as house mom and running a baby feeding program. Life progressed here in Haiti and I decided to transition into focusing on keeping families together and sustained through job creation, which landed me at Haiti Design Co-op. Here at HDC, I am head of order fulfillment, shipping, and program coordinator. I work alongside our Community Development committee to put in place programs to create opportunities for our workers in education, business development, and life skills.
I am excited to share with you stories from our little family and bustling workshop in Port au Prince, Haiti, as well bits and pieces from the rich culture that make up this country.
A little speed round q&A from yours truly-
1. What's your favorite part of your daily routine at HDC?
Making the first round of morning greetings to our teams throughout the workshop rooms. You never know what tidbits of information will unfold since the previous workday. It could quite possibly set the tone for the entire day here on the grounds.
"Ready or not, here we go!"
2. What's your favorite HDC product from the collection?
3. If advising a person traveling to Haiti for the first time, what are the things they must see and places they must go?
Jacmel. A town on the southern coast, perfectly preserved from an era of bold colors, bustling cobblestone, Caribbean salsa dance, and hand squeezed rhum sours. Oh, and breathtaking beaches.
4. Favorite street food?
Avocados and coconuts! If I’m feeling adventurous, banan pese topped with pikliz (fried plantains with a Haitian style cole slaw / spicy kimchi, the more burn the better!)
5. Favorite hobby since moving to Haiti?
Yoga, on our workshop jungalow patio. I love the classic practice in a hot yoga setting, sweating and stretching while surrounded by plants. Serenity.
6. Favorite creole word or phrase and why?
“Toutouni” - naked. Packed with so many uses. To be raw, bare, minimum…. One’s natural state. Pronounced just how it looks, try it you won’t be able to say it just once.
7. What is the weirdest thing for you about going back to America when you visit home?
Watching how fast people move in public places. It gets weird, like they actually have to get things done in a timely fashion. Who woulda thought?! A huge contrast to the streets in Port au Prince.
8. What is the hardest part of coming back to Haiti after visiting America?
Usually I'm coming from colder northern parts of the US, so definitely adjusting back to the hot weather. But then it soaks into my core and makes me smile from the inside out, and sweat.