Since this past week was Thanksgiving, I’ve been reflecting on the things that I am thankful for in my life.
January 12, 2014 will be the four year anniversary of Haiti’s deadly earthquake. It also happens to be the one year anniversary of when Marla and I first went to Haiti to teach soapmaking to a group of strong and resilient women that live in a tent camp which they have named “Tent City”. With no electricity or running water, these women live in conditions that we simply can’t even fathom.
There is no protection from the elements when wind and water overcome the flimsy and weak shelters that these women live in. Beds are made out of cinder blocks and plywood, to keep them off of the ground in case of rain and floods. There is no security. These women can’t lock their doors to keep people with ill intentions out. Women and children must walk to restrooms at all hours among strangers with no sense of security.
These women want out of this situation. They are smart, talented, and want an opportunity to create their own prosperity.
OFEDA, Organisation des Femmes Devouees en Action, was founded by the women of Tent City. They decided to come together to form an organized rally of support, strength and communication, and work towards prosperity to change their situation. They started with a card making group then added soap making and now baking and knitting.
The Lovin’ Soap Project is actively involved in supporting this push for prosperity. It’s certainly not cheap and it’s certainly not easy. I’ve personally spent thousands of dollars this year in Haiti. I’ve also raised funds from generous donors that have contributed to our project to keep it going…so thank you to those who have contributed. I started the Lovin’ Soap Project as a direct response to the amount of effort, support and work needed to help these women in Haiti but also in other countries as well.
I ask myself daily and reflect daily on why I’m doing this. Mostly I have this reflection time because I want the plight of these women fresh in my mind to help motivate and move me towards action every single day.
More than anything, I’m doing this because I’ve had a wonderful life so far. Sure I’ve had trials and tribulations and strife here and there as we all do. But I have never been denied any sort of basic need such as shelter, food, medical care, clothes, school…etc. I have always been taken care of.
And I give thanks for this by trying to help others that don’t have these basic needs as easily as I do.
I truly believe that it is our job as humans to take care of each other. We are all connected on this planet. Our relationships surpass and flow over any border, ocean or mountain.
For OFEDA and our other group, owning this soapmaking business is not about having a “little extra spending money” and its certainly not “turning a hobby into a business” as is the reason for many soapmakers here in the US to start a business selling soap. This business is about earning income to pay for medical care, food, shelter, school and so many other necessities in life.
This business is the difference between their child lying in bed suffering when sick without a doctor or medication or their child being treated and taken care of. This business is the difference between their family eating nothing or their family having food to ease hunger pains.
I am thankful for so many things in my life. I am thankful for a wonderful family, an awesome Mom and Dad who provided for absolutely every basic need I had growing up even when they didn’t have a lot of money, and also provided me with a childhood full of love, opportunity (dance, sports, music), education, health, food and so much more. Things so easily disregarded as owed and absolute.
Nothing is owed to us. Nothing.
I am thankful. I am grateful. And that moves me to act to help others who don’t have these most basic of needs. We don’t choose where we are born and into what situation we are born. I happened to have been born in Dallas, TX and grew up with a wonderful family who always had what we needed. I could have easily have been born into the extreme poverty of Haiti or others areas around the world. By chance I wasn’t. And that moves me to try to help the situation of our neighbors in Haiti by doing what I love. And that happens to be soapmaking. I am helping women create their own prosperity in Haiti by teaching them soapmaking. I am doing. I am acting because I am so thankful for my life.
And another thing I am thankful for is you. The Lovin’ Soap Project is growing and has a huge year planned for 2014. We can’t have accomplished what we’ve accomplished to date without the support of our family, friends, soapmakers, businesses and so many others. In 2014 we will not only continue our work in Haiti, but we will be expanding into Uganda. Thank you to all of those that have been following our project, who have sent donations or even just well wishes and prayers. I am thankful for you and my heart is huge knowing so many people care about what we’re doing.
The best way to help support Lovin’ Soap Project is to join our monthly donation program.
You can automatically donate $10 a month to provide ongoing and urgent funds for us to continue our efforts in Haiti and expansion into Uganda. $10 a month is equal to two fancy Starbucks or a meal out. $10 doesn’t sound like much but when several people band together to give $10 a month it provides us with the funds needed to carry out our work and help these people.
Please consider giving thanks for your situation by helping us improve the situation of others by teaching soapmaking to these beautiful women.
Please consider a monthly donation to Lovin’ Soap Project. Click here to sign up!