Haitian Dominoes

Dekabès!

a Haitian Creole expression meaning a double win in dominoes or the lottery

Pèdi // Chen

When you lose in Haitian dominoes you must put clothes pins on your face or arms for the remainder of the game. As a joke, you also are called "Chen", meaning "dog" for the rest of the game. Number of clothes pin is decided ahead of time by everyone playing. If you do not have clothes pins, you can also hold a small tree branch in your mouth or hold a cinder block. 

All Photography is from the talented (and super fun) Kelsey Cherry. 

Mona-isms

Meet Madam Mona, Haiti Design Co-op's very own momma

Never one to hold back her unsolicited advice, we have all learned that Mona knows best. She is a kind, wise and loving mother hen always looking out for the needs of those around her. Mona is always dressed in her Sunday best, makes a mean batch of Haitian pickles (spicy slaw), and in her down time can be found perusing Facebook and chatting on WhatsApp.

 Here are a few important pieces of advice that Mona has given us throughout the years:

  1. Yoga gives you colds. 
  2. If you walk on wet floors when barefoot, lady cramps will be worse. 
  3. If you drink a lot of cold water, lady cramps will be worse. 
  4. If you are a runner, your chances of bearing a child will decrease. 
  5. Mangos make your neck hurt. 
  6. Rats will eat your feet at night if you don't shut your door. 
  7. Don't fall in love with a lazy boy.
  8. If you treat everyone with respect, you'll find people that will protect you on the streets.
  9. To raise a child well, you need a good entourage around them. 
  10. If you truly love someone your heart knows it.

Always keeping us on our feet and in check, we think that everyone should have a Mona in their life. So much love for this woman from the HDC team. 

 

Many Hands in Action

It is with much excitement that we get to introduce you to Haiti Design Co-op's own, in-house, community development committee,

also known as- HDC IN ACTION

If you have spent any time around the Haiti Design Co-op family you have probably heard us use the creole phrase, ‘men anpil, chay pa lou.’ In english it means many hands make the load light, and it is our number one mantra in day to day operations. HDC IN ACTION is the embodiment of that phrase through and through.

HDC IN ACTION consists of different leaders from around the workshop, some are managers, and some are part of our workshop family that want to do their part in lifting up the people around them. The committee began organically as a way to plan events and parties, and has grown into a platform for social change in our community. We truly value the input of our staff, and they have become the driving instigator for a lot of our social initiatives. When deciding on a logo for the committee, the group chose a banana leaf in hands. They said this represents the spirit of Haiti Design Co-op, their culture, and country being in their hands. Currently they are working towards helping plan a community garden and green project for HDC known as The Banana Leaf Initiative (more exciting info to come!), as well as planning personal growth seminars such as mental health awareness and personal financial training.  The committee is working on planning community clean up days, and cultural education days where they can explore and learn more about different parts of the gorgeous island nation. 

HDC IN ACTION VISION STATEMENT

HDC IN ACTION exists to work together to support the community in all we do. We strive to create initiatives to improve well-being, protect the environment and the culture, and encourage personal growth. We work to teach individuals that change starts from within, and to give them the resources and opportunities to take that change to their communities. We are role models for our co-workers, families, community, and country. We strive to encourage individuals to find their purpose and join the movement to uplift and sustain our lives and our country. 

MEET THE TEAM

 Adelson - "I used to participate in my social committee to be an example at church. I am on the committee because it is a good thing and helping to fulfill the big dream."

Adelson - "I used to participate in my social committee to be an example at church. I am on the committee because it is a good thing and helping to fulfill the big dream."

 Darline - "I am happy because I like working on a team and to learn new things from the committee."

Darline - "I am happy because I like working on a team and to learn new things from the committee."

 Gerald - "Even though I am shy, the committee helps me to put myself out there when they have events."

Gerald - "Even though I am shy, the committee helps me to put myself out there when they have events."

 Mano - "I like being on the committee because we all work together. I am more serious, and would not be here if it wasn't a good thing. And the committee helps me to relax and be included."

Mano - "I like being on the committee because we all work together. I am more serious, and would not be here if it wasn't a good thing. And the committee helps me to relax and be included."

 Cassan - "It feels good to be on the committee and each time we have a meeting together, it makes me feel happy to be a part of it." *Our self proclaimed gather-er / rally-er of people and making sure that everyone is included*

Cassan - "It feels good to be on the committee and each time we have a meeting together, it makes me feel happy to be a part of it." *Our self proclaimed gather-er / rally-er of people and making sure that everyone is included*

 Guerdy - (President) - "I like to be working. I spend a lot of time here for work and helping with the committee. I am encouraged to be here even when it is a lot of work because it is a good thing for everyone. I want the committee to be long lasting and building for the future to follow in our example."

Guerdy - (President) - "I like to be working. I spend a lot of time here for work and helping with the committee. I am encouraged to be here even when it is a lot of work because it is a good thing for everyone. I want the committee to be long lasting and building for the future to follow in our example."

 Widlene - "I am known as 'pa ka pa la" (paraphrased, the social butterfly and involved in everything). I like social activities, and specifically the cooking side. The jewelry ladies chose me to be on the committee and I am happy because I want to be a good representation for them."

Widlene - "I am known as 'pa ka pa la" (paraphrased, the social butterfly and involved in everything). I like social activities, and specifically the cooking side. The jewelry ladies chose me to be on the committee and I am happy because I want to be a good representation for them."

 Jerry - "HDC in action has changed a lot of things in me. I like it because the projects are big. HDC in action will go far, it will impact our community. It changed me because I participate in the programs. We do this because we love it, and it is something that helps us all. Little by little we have more ideas that bring us together." 

Jerry - "HDC in action has changed a lot of things in me. I like it because the projects are big. HDC in action will go far, it will impact our community. It changed me because I participate in the programs. We do this because we love it, and it is something that helps us all. Little by little we have more ideas that bring us together." 

 Faby - "I enjoy being on the committee because it gives me the chance to get to know my coworkers better."

Faby - "I enjoy being on the committee because it gives me the chance to get to know my coworkers better."

 Fabienne - "I like being on the committee because I am planning things that are outside of my everyday job. It is something that is for the country, and our community and I am participating in things that are helping my people in a social way, in a different way. The investment I make in my people is not something that I can be paid for and that is why i take pride in it. I am proud to do it, it makes me more invested in Haiti Design Co-op because it is different than what businesses usually do." 

Fabienne - "I like being on the committee because I am planning things that are outside of my everyday job. It is something that is for the country, and our community and I am participating in things that are helping my people in a social way, in a different way. The investment I make in my people is not something that I can be paid for and that is why i take pride in it. I am proud to do it, it makes me more invested in Haiti Design Co-op because it is different than what businesses usually do." 

We are very proud of the HDC IN ACTION team, and are so thankful for the way they are able to impact the community around them. We can not wait to see where they go, and what they do in the coming years. Follow along, more updated to come! 

Orevwa!

-the HDC team

Shout out to the Salty Mamas

Sel pa vante tet li di sale.
Salt doesn’t boast that it is salty.

In honor of Mother's day we at Haiti Design Co-op would like to applaud all of you humble, hard working, patient mamas out there. You never clock out, you are working hard to put your kids through school, keep bellies fed, and you go with such little recognition. You are the salt of the earth.

We see you. We love you. We appreciate you. 

You, mothers, are simply AMAZING.

Today we would like to spotlight just a few of the incredible mothers from Haiti Design Co-op. Their fierce love for their children is inspiring. We did a little Q&A to get an inside look at their dynamic relationships with their children. 

Meet MADAM CARMELLE & ISHMAELLa

What is the most rewarding part of being a mother?

Having a daughter that I consider a friend. She is my best friend and companion. She is so important to me. She always takes care of me and I can count on her when I am weak or have problems to be there for me. 

What is your favorite part about working with your daughter?

She encourages me to try things that I don't think I can do. She is very patient, and understanding. I love being able to work with my daughter and embroider together, it is my favorite time of the day. 

Ishmaella is the only daughter of Carmelle. Carmelle has worked very hard to put Ishmaelle through school and she even recently graduated from law school. Carmelle beams with pride when she speaks about her. Carmelle and Ishmaella work together to create our embroidered message banner

meet darlene & collins

 (Collins got in trouble for playing with scissors in the sewing room, so he wasn't too thrilled for this photo)

(Collins got in trouble for playing with scissors in the sewing room, so he wasn't too thrilled for this photo)

what is your favorite thing about your son?

He really loves me. He is affectionate and always tells me I'm beautiful and gives me kisses. 

What is your favorite time of the day together?

I love when we walk together to drop him off at school in the morning and afternoon. I also love helping him do his homework at night. I'm so proud of him and what he is learning.

Darlene is our assistant sewing manager. Every day she picks up Collins from school and he gets to hang out with us for a couple hours at the workshop. He is always busy running around, drawing, or creating swords with stacked thread spools. 

Meet Wideleine & her sons, Widens & Luchiano

how are your boys unique and different from each other?

Widens is much more serious than Luchiano. He is the oldest and is strict on rules. He is very independent and has a big imagination. He is very content playing by himself and creating stories with his little cars and toys laying around. He always tells me one day he is going to work and make a lot of money and he will always take care of me. Luchiano, or "Lulu", is very affectionate and clever. He loves being around and engaging with people. He always wants to give kisses and hugs. 

What is your favorite time of the day with your boys?

I love getting them ready for school in the morning, taking care of them when they are sick, and praying with them at night. I love being able to take them to school, church, and playing with them in the afternoons. I love them so much. 

Meet Yvetta & her kids, Peterson, Wislen, Yvens, and niece Cherline

what is your favorite part about being a mom?

I love being a mom because my kids have respect for me. They appreciate me and the work I do to take care of them, I love that about them. They are good kids. 

What are your favorite activities to do with your kids?

I love when we can hang out on weekends and play, tell jokes, take photos, and go to church. I also love praying with them at night. 

Wideleine, Yvetta, and their kids have been with our Haiti Design Co-op family since the beginning. They are hard working women that have overcome many struggles. Yvetta is the only one of her 12 sisters that can write her own name, and today she has 4 healthy, intelligent kids doing wonderful in school. Despite some extremely difficult beginnings, Wideleine has fought hard to bring her family to where they are today. Wideleine now serves on our Community Development Committee and takes care of many other girls in her community going through hard situations. 

Yvetta and Wideleine are best friends and think of each other like sisters. They have worked together for 6 years and seen each other through so many ups and downs. We are currently fundraising to give Yvetta and Wideleine the opportunity to own their own land and homes.

If you would like to support them in this exciting and meaningful way, please donate below. Your help will be contributing to a purchase that will impact their families for generations to come.

Donate

An Earth Day Call to Action

 

Audrey Hepburn once said, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow”.

 As a family and community here in Port Au Prince, we can press on these simple words. Words that project vision and dreams. Looking upon a simple seed and it’s potential, days and years from now. There is no limit as to where tomorrow can take us.

Giving our lives nourishment is a renewing practice. Caring for our bodies, our souls and our world can coincide beautifully in simple practices like gardening. There is something healing that comes in digging in the dirt, something deeply satisfying that comes in growing your own food, and there is something wonderful for our earth that comes when we find such natural ways to meet our needs. If we can reflect practices that embody this growth, we can spread education and investment throughout our family and into the communities of our artisans.

Photo: Harvest 107

Through generosities of partners, we have been given the opportunity to dig deeper with enrichment programs here at the workshop. We were joined by a corporate responsibility team last fall that came down and not only donated materials, time, and energy, but laid the ground work for the structure of our lunch sustainability vision being brought to life through a rooftop garden. As we set out to continue to find ways to implement simple and sustainable nourishment to our workshop, Haiti Design Co-op’s path struck a gold mine when we found Harvest 107.

Harvest 107, from nursery to garden, embodies a vision of growth through something simple- food. Taking a breath on their garden property opens a feeling of opportunity and renewal beyond what is seen in the dirt.  Renewal that brings forth possibility and growth that we hope to model here at HDC. Through this spirit, our garden will empower our family as they seek to develop practices that take them to their roots. The fruits of their labor are reflected in their mission statement,

to make safe, nutritious food available to every person on the planet.” and belief that “food is a right, not a privilege” .

  Photo: Harvest 107

Photo: Harvest 107

(To learn more about Harvest 107 please explore their website)

Harvest 107 partners with organizations and community groups to build gardens that connect people to the importance of renewal and nourishment, as well as give every person the opportunity for sufficient food sources.

By building a sustainable rooftop garden alongside Harvest 107 we will be given the ability to-

  • Provide added nutrition to our employee lunches

  • Train leaders in sustainable gardening practices that can spread in surrounding communities

  • Provide educational classes on preventive healthcare through nutrition

  • Give our artisans the chance to become  a part of a project that they can watch grow (literally) and expand on individually, as a family, and into communities where their daily lives take place.  

By combining the visions of HDC and Harvest 107, the following plan was developed:

The Harvest Box : Our custom engineered garden boxes include a self-watering irrigation system that requires no electricity. Each Harvest Box is made from re-purposed shipping pallets and designed to use the least amount of materials while achieving the optimal environment for urban gardening. The boxes are not only functional, they are aesthetically pleasing and instantly transform raw spaces into a thing of beauty.”

Our goal is to launch the rooftop garden with-

  • 6 harvest boxes=70 plants

  • Training Sessions in-

    • care and maintenance

    •  organic pest control

    • composting

    • harvesting food

    • seed banking for planting the next crop.

 

 The roots of our rooftop garden, tended by our leather artisan, Adelson. 

The roots of our rooftop garden, tended by our leather artisan, Adelson. 

 
 
 
 

“The key elements to a successful food sustainability project is great design and thorough education and training.”

- Pfaff Family, Harvest 107

 

 

 


Here's Where You Come In...

TO BRING THIS GARDEN TO LIFE WE ARE LOOKING FOR SPONSORS TO RALLY BEHIND US AND FUND THESE NUTRITIOUS AND EDUCATIONAL HARVEST BOXES.


Sponsor a plant- $25

For just $25, individuals can sponsor one of the 70 new and promising plants coming straight from the Harvest 107 greenhouse to our well-loved workshop roof. AND receive a free Leather Bracelet made in-house at HDC. 

Sponsor half a Harvest box- $75

For $75, individuals can sponsor half of a Harvest Box. Each plant will contribute directly to supplementing our artisans’ lunches and provide a training opportunity for our employees. AND you'll receive a free "BE GOOD TO PEOPLE" banner.

Sponsor a Harvest Box- $150

 For just $150, you can get your name, family’s name, organization, or business name on a hand stamped metal placard on the side of the box which you sponsored. You'll also receive a personal thank you video from our staff members. 

We are beyond excited about this new opportunity for our cooperative and, especially, those that will be our first round of gardeners. Haiti Design Co-op is committed to not only providing stability to individuals through employment, but also to life enrichment and community development made possible by your donations. Thank you for your support of this exciting new venture made possible by Harvest 107.

Alongside you, we are planting seeds of change and opportunity.

With love from Ayiti,

-the HDC team

 

 

Espere Counseling Partnership

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/

Salut Friends!

  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 makes up this country.

 

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?

Classic leather tote in tan. It's timeless. It's leather. Enough said.

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.


Haiti is a place that appeals to every sense at one time, in each moment. This only takes a split second to see. Let’s step out and explore paths, visions, art forms, and everyday products that make up this heartbreaking and breathtaking little island.

 

With love from Ayiti,

Katelyn Hollis

                             Jacmel, Haiti

                            Jacmel, Haiti