Benjamin and Amanda of Lovin’ Soap Project are back in Haiti to work with the soap artisans of OFEDA in Port au Prince and HAPI in Mizak. Today was with OFEDA at the camp.
We found out earlier this week that the women of OFEDA, who are currently living in a tent camp, will soon be evicted from the camp. We had no idea what would be going on at the camp when we arrived or if the women would even be there. When we arrived we quickly discovered the stark reality of their situation. They have 12 days to vacate the tent camp, where some of our group still resides and all work in. The land is government property on a school campus, and their time has come. Today was heavy.
There was not a lot of interest in talking about soap and bodycare products today, although we did conduct a successful and somewhat jovial hair and body oil workshop, all things considered. The women are pinning down price points and recipes, and they all seem to have a forward-thinking tone in their voices. But again, today was not the best of days to talk shop. The livelihoods of the women we come to teach and all of their dependents are in dire straits; most do not know where they will go. The amount of new stress from the eviction – added on top of everything else they have been going through, is really hard to comprehend. And you could see it heavily on their faces. Not only are they losing homes, they are losing the strong community they have built as a group. We are there, in the tent camp with them, but we get to leave, and eat, and drink good water. We are soapmakers, and we have come to continue to teach soapmaking and business aspects, but this has become so much more than that, even on a professional level. This is about human rights and dignity.
Soapmaking and bodycare production are the vehicle in which positive and fruitful change will come to pass. Under the circumstances of today’s events, which aren’t anything we can really grasp, they showed up. The women we teach have complete faith in the process, in themselves and us. They know they will be successful. They are professional businesswomen – there is no difference between the helper and helped – we as an organization are consulting professional, successful businesswomen who are manufacturing premium products. We should not pity these women. If anything, we should all be looking up to them, because in the face of absolute personal, social and civic turmoil, they conduct themselves from a great source of strength and faith. This is what start-up business is all about – the complete and total conviction that success is inevitable. Today isn’t the day to talk about logistics, and shipping and purchase orders – today is about all of us opening our eyes to our global community and taking the time to care. The Lovin’ Soap Project’s vision is to empower women through the artisan craft of soapmaking. We are activating this vision through the gracious efforts of our communities, far and wide to contribute to our cause through donations. They need your help more now than ever. Please contribute at www.lovinsoapproject.org/donate
Thank you to all of our supporters and those who are following the project. Please share this story with your family and friends, as one thing the women have asked is for us to share their story.
Amanda and Benjamin