The wellness of our artisan community at Haiti Design Co-op is of upmost importance to us. We have seen time and time again the evils of poverty to be physically, emotionally, and spiritually crippling. It is common for our artisans to address their physical health issues, however we sadly have seen that mental health is rarely addressed within Haiti. Many of our artisans have experienced devastating trauma, however sadly the stigma of mental health being only associated with "crazy people" and the lack of information and resources available to them has left a void of healing in such a vital area of life.
It was with great pleasure that we were able to meet and partner with Espere Community Counseling Center of Port au Prince, Haiti.
Espere - French translation, "to hope."
"No matter what has happened, our clients can still hope for brighter times ahead. It is an action. It requires work. Each client must actively participate in the healing process in order to find the peace and strength they desire, and we are continually honored to be able to watch our clients work for and reach these goals." - Erika Childs, Founder Espere CCC
Erika Childs came to Haiti in 2013. Through her work as a volunteer psychology professor, she experienced the desperate need for mental health services and the severe lack of options. She was able to work with psychology students dedicated to helping their country, however disheartened by the reality that they had nowhere to put the theories they were learning into practice. Feeling a pull to fill in the gaps, Erika joined a colleague and the idea of a community-based counseling center began to take root. A place to not just provide counseling, but also teach about mental health and the stigmas associated with mental health. Espere CCC was born.
A Lack of information and large influence of the spiritual world and superstitions have planted a negative image of mental health, not just in Haiti, but in many countries worldwide. This has left many people with minds and bodies paralyzed in fear and distrust. Distrust of others, and distrust of the natural world.
Seeking to inform and better support our artisans in this important area of life, we welcomed Espere for a group session with our HDC family.
Espere's kind and patient professional staff was able to educate our group on the importance of mental health and what it means to us as individuals. Using drawings, group chats, and an open question forum, we engaged in identifying common problems and stresses we all face, how this affects us as a family unit, and as a business. We learned about the realities of anxiety, depression, trauma, and PTSD, and we learned techniques for properly coping with the stresses of everyday life.
The response from our artisans was incredible. There was a positive and engaging energy throughout the room. Everyone shared, participated, and left with new ideas and perspective on their own well-being.
Communities are built from the inside out. Through opening the door to exploration inward, our cohort has let practices sprout and are exploding with ideas and practices that channel inner strength. When minds are opened, freedom transpires and carries the power to uplift and influence others. HDC will continue to build it's foundation as our collective teams seek strength and hope.
Mesi Espere, your seeds have been sown, and we can't wait to watch them grow.
If you're interested in learning more or supporting the work of Espere Community Counseling, visit their website and donate at- http://www.esperecounseling.com/