Marla Bosworth and I just got back from Haiti where we taught the first Beauty in Haiti workshop to the women of OFEDA. We taught workshops on both Saturday and Sunday.
Haiti is beautiful country of extremes. Driving everywhere you can see the rubble and destruction from the 2010 earthquake. Amid the destruction, piles of rocks, tent cities and damaged building are bright splashes and collections of color. Beautiful works of art – paintings, metal art, jewelry – dot the sides of the road. Markets cover the sidewalks with vendors selling fruits, vegetables and other goods. The beauty of the art and colorful fruits and vegetables almost over shine the rubble lining the streets and the collapsed backdrop of buildings.
We had many goals for this trip but basically we wanted to teach the process…one which blends well with their environment (tent camp – no running water or electricity), show them that this is something they can do, source ingredients locally by meeting with Haitian oil/chemical distributors and talk to the women about setting up a business. We were successful with all of our goals for this initial trip. The women are confident in the process and know they can do it. They still have a lot to learn but it was a good start. We met with local business to source supplies including sodium hydroxide, a vetiver distiller and have some leads for bulk oils. When we left we bought some of the soap from the women that we had made to show them that this is something they can make money from.
This trip was a great start but there is still much to do. We do plan on going back. The next trip will involve making more soap, making solid perfumes and firming up the process and procedures that the women will be using and finalizing suppliers in Haiti.
I want to give a big thank you to those that have donated to our project. Thank you to Bramble Berry who donated all of the soap molds, oils, cutters and scales. We told the women that there was a community of soap makers back home that had helped to make these workshops happen and they couldn’t believe it. They just couldn’t believe that people that lived so far away would care enough to make this happen.
Our first workshop was on January 12, the three year anniversary of the devastating earthquake. I don’t even know how to put into words the emotions on this day. Stories were told. That day effected every single person. Every single person lost somebody. The women came to the workshop still excited and happy that we were there. I think it gave them something to take their minds off of what day it was.
Here are some videos and images from the trip. The videos are my favorite. We had told the women to be joyful when making the products and that the joy would be in the finished product. Mostly, we wanted them to have fun. And so they did!