A long time ago Max had a vision that one day he would be a leader in a village called Canaan in Haiti. His heart hurts for the people there, because of his role with HandUp Global Goods—he gets to do his part to bring relief to the fatherless children there.
He and two others (pictured below) from our program, are providing shelter, nannies and discipleship to 16 children. Max is in the center.
THIS is what happens when you think BIG about tackling problems like extreme poverty and orphan care.
Our formula, Job Creation + Spiritual Discipleship = Orphan Prevention comes ALIVE through the hands of young men like Max. He believes in the power of our formula and he invites you to become part of this story of redemption.
He wants you to know he believes in this revolutionary way of thinking—your investment in HandUp provides Max with essential training and tools to be able to guide his people in a more impactful way.
He personally wants to make a piece of jewelry for every donor that donates to HandUp.
Donate today and let’s help them become the spiritual leaders God created them to be.
“Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach him how to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” But what if I told you that together, we can revolutionize the fishing industry?
Have you ever wondered how much of a difference your donation makes in the lives of the people to whom you donate? Efficiently run organizations maximize your dollars to create deep impact for the people they serve. But often, good intentions fail to stimulate economic growth for the people in need of a handUp.
The irony is that most of the time it is the lack of economic stimulation in communities that keeps people relying on handouts. Although your donation helps for a day, months or even years—
Does it revolutionize entire communities & promote lasting change?
Up to 80% of children in Haiti are poverty orphans. Many of them have parents that love them but can’t scratch out enough of an existence to meet the basic needs of their sons and daughters. The lucky ones end up in institutions.
But many of these poverty orphans end up on the streets, sold as slaves, trafficked, exploited, the list goes on and on.
And who is doing most of the exploiting?
The broken men raised in these impoverished communities.
At HandUp, we believe we can equip former street boys to radically change their trajectories from broken men and future orphan makers to leaders and future hope makers. We do this through one powerful formula:
I believe that good resides in all people because God made people.
AND there is a little bit of HIM in every person—even when we don’t recognize that it comes from Him. ALL GOOD COMES FROM HIM. I try to remind myself of this when I am disappointed in people. I think of Brene Browns comments in Rising Strong that she MUST choose to believe that everyone is trying her best. Seriously. It helps a great deal when I choose to believe in these two things:
That there is a little bit of good in everyone AND that everyone is doing the best they can.
But I have to confess, sometimes things happen that shake my heart a little bit and these two thoughts are tossed out the door.
Let me explain.
We recently had a fundraiser so that we could bring on TEN more teens in transition that have aged out of our partner orphanage. Instead of these boys ending up on the streets and perpetuating the problem of poverty—they get to be part of a story that is seeking long-term solutions to poverty. The lives of young men aging out of orphanages are changing and we believe that they will one day become the leaders in their communities.
THIS is why we give a handUP; to break them free from a life of handouts.
This is WORLD CHANGING stuff I’m talking about!
Yet at our fundraiser—we failed to raise the $60K that we so desperately needed to bring on these ten teens. Although the event itself was pretty amazing, we did not bring IT home. IT as in being able to offer our FOUR CORNERSTONES to all of these young men.
I was striving to find my peace with this lack of resources and was doing okay until I saw this:
As a country, we spent $3.4 billion on costumes that we will most likely use once. I know-I know—it’s fun and we’re making memories and visiting with neighbors and eating chocolate. But for me, it’s a REAL struggle. It’s like choosing to have a Pina Colada at a pool while knowing there’s a kid drowning in it!!!
Okay–so maybe it’s not a fair analogy but I’m confessing to you that this is how it made me feel. It’s times like this that make me wonder if I’m cut out for this kind of work. But then I get footage like this:
This is Richardson teaching English to impoverished children from a nearby village:
This is Patrick and he’s started a street ministry where he teaches young boys on the streets how to read.
This is Jean Ricard and he teaches the older boys at our partner orphanage how to make jewelry so that they can have the skills they need to get a job at HandUp.
THIS. This is the reason to keep moving forward and advocating for what we believe is right.
I believe that there has never been a better time to come together and put an end to extreme poverty.
I believe that HandUp is on to something revolutionary for Haiti’s aging out youth and that there is a BIG YES around the corner.
Will you believe alongside us?
The ripple effects of your donation to HandUp doesn’t stop at these young men. It spills out into their communities & THIS is what it takes to tackle poverty.
You can still TEXT to DONATE at 41444, TYPE in HUGG & follow the prompts.
At the end of the day, we want to know that we inspired you towards being part of this amazing story of redemption. We want YOU to know that you have the power to effect change on a global scale–so let’s tell this story TOGETHER!!!
July is in full swing. This weekend brought with it lots of family time, lake, swimming and fried fish! For so many reasons, I love 4th of July weekend. It is on holidays like this that remind me that I live in a place that allows me the freedom to help others around me. The items I buy fall into this category.
At HandUp, we are continuing to feature one of our own and the company they wish to highlight. Last week, Natul showed us the beautifully hand-crafted items from Serrv. This week, Gretchen has purchased cute shorts from Patagonia.
Patagonia is well known for their athletic wear. Growing from a small company that made tools for climbers, Patagonia now sells gear and clothing for all “silent sports”–from fishing, to running, to skiing and more. Their mission is to “build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” They are Fair Trade Certified, give back a portion of their profit towards many different environmental groups and they use recycled polyester and organic cotton in their clothes. And, best of all, they have products for the whole family!
Check out these cute shorts on Gretchen. They are perfect for the summer and I love the sunny yellow. She is also rocking our beautiful new triple wrap from our beachy keen collection. Let me know what you think!
Women love to shop. Even those of us who rather get our leg hairs lasered than go shopping admit it feels good to wear something fresh off the rack. It makes us feel prettier, confident and more put together.
It’s even better if that said rack has some sort of discount sign affixed to it. That much sought after shopper’s high ignites when you see the “sale” sign on THAT dress. You peek inside the back of the neck scoop and see that magic little (of course its little) number that marks your size. You look over that sweet drape of cotton/rayon goodness in approval.
Who cares if it doesn’t fit JUST RIGHT, you pretty much stole it at that price and it feels SO GOOD that you go celebrate at the Cinnabon next door. (You buy the small ones of course)!
So that Cinnabon might make the dress fit a little less than “just right” but who cares? It was only $17.99 marked down from $30, marked down from $58. Well done faithful shopper!
This shopper’s high is experienced by millions of frugal mom shoppers who LIVE for these kind of finds. It feels good to save money AND look awesome doing it. Aside from, you know, clothing our bodies and the bodies of the littles in our homes—finding great deals make us feel like good stewards of the resources we have.
It’s the “I got it at Ross” feeling when people compliment you on your outfit and you proudly declare that you got 116 pieces for only $29. Good job mama who is trying to stretch a dollar so she can save up for that summer vacay!
But I want to ask a question.
What if you learned that the person who made that “great find” dress doesn’t make enough money to feed her three children? She leaves her 9-year-old daughter to take care of the younger two all day in her tiny makeshift home.
What if the hang tag shared this young mom’s photo and explained how close she was to giving up all three to a local orphanage hoping that her children have a chance to thrive?
Would you refrain from buying the dress?
Would you call the brand and demand they pay her more for her 10-hour shifts?
What would you do?
I know. You hate me for bringing this up. I don’t want to step in the way of your savvy shopping. I really don’t. But every garment, accessory, pair of shoes we buy has a story and chances are, it’s not one you want to hear. Because it would break your heart.
I know your intentions are good. You search for that bottom line deal because you want to save and perhaps use those savings to do meaningful things.
But is there a better way to shop?
As Christians, we are called to be good stewards of our money and we often equate that with tithing and saving. But what if we looked at shopping as a way to bless others, too?
Yes! We get things for ourselves but what if we knew that this mother of three was able to send her littles to school and keep her family together because the company she works for believes in more than just the bottom line?
Would you buy that dress and pay the full $58. Sure—you wouldn’t be able to have 29 dresses hanging in your closet but you’d have a handful that you would be proud to wear because you KNEW your purchasing power was literally saving lives FAMILIES.
I don’t know about you, but I think this sort of ethical shopping is more in line with my Christian principles.
He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God. Proverbs 14:31
Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Proverbs 31:9
Do not take advantage of a hired man who is poor and needy…. Deuteronomy 24:14
I’m not asking you to go “radical” and blow the dust off your grandmother’s sewing machine. Homemade pillowcase dresses can only take you so far people!
I’m asking you to take a look at some alternatives. You’ll be surprised to learn how many companies are rethinking the bottom line and incorporating fair trade principles that are more socially and ecologically sustainable. I know these words don’t really mean a lot to most of us, but thinking about that single mom struggling to keep her kids should mean SOMETHING.
There is SOMETHING that all of us could do.
A million small pushes is better than ONE giant shove by one person. Let’s do this together!
Here’s a good place to start to learn about companies daring to go against fast fashion……
Over the last year and half of blogging for HandUp Global Goods, I have come across so many amazing companies. The fashion industry, while it still has a long way to go, has made significant strides to protect their artisans. What I really love, however, is a company that not only focuses on fair and ethical sourcing but also gives back.
Girl Set Free focuses on fighting against human trafficking by working alongside many reputable human trafficking advocates. Human trafficking is just a new name for slavery, an issue that is still very much alive within all societies. With an estimated 27 million individuals in slavery today, human trafficking is one of the fastest growing crimes. Each purchase you make with Girl Set Free goes to stop human trafficking.
I bought this cute shirt to add to my fair-trade capsule wardrobe (read more about that here) from Girl Set Free. This super cute and soft shirt has been perfect this summer. I love the wider cap on the shoulder and the simple but beautifully stated “By Grace” on the front. The Grace Tee is perfect for a capsule wardrobe because you can easily add layers as the seasons change. It will be summer here until November, but I am looking forward to pairing it with some cute fall outfits once the weather starts to change. It is also a perfect backdrop for all my HandUp Global Goods jewelry!
Girl Set Free just launched a new website where they are offering all kinds of super cute and ethically made products. They have beautifully hand-woven cross-body bags, hand turned pens, and t-shirts with a message I can stand behind. I have fallen in love with the heart of this company.
“Simply stated, I trusted and obeyed and have the most amazing tribe that believed in me but believed in God more and they never let me lose sight of that. Girl Set Free started with my personal redemption story. Little did I know, saying yes to hard and holy things would lead to so much freedom and healing for others. Not only for our artisan partners but for me personally. God called me to rest this year after a long season of healing and years of striving. You see, I felt my worth came from my work because I held onto lies from the enemy. It was time for me to lay that all down. I’m humbled and have cried many tears since we started this journey but the growth has been beautifully hard and I’m counting the fruit now. Ephesians 3:20 – “Now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to his power that is at work within us.” -CEO Amy Kratzer
Check out their new website, purchase some amazing items and let me know what you think.
A couple of years ago, I asked one of the HandUp artisans what he thought of the man who had taken care of him as a child living on the streets. He got quiet before he answered as if weighing his words—“I love him.” he said.
When I asked him if this man had been like a father to him, he perked up and said, “Papa Jimmy was more than a father to us boys, he was a protector.” It made me sad to think that this young man, who had little notion of a father’s role, would think that the word “father’ meant anything less than “protector” or “provider”.
Yet, a protector is what he needed most as a child living on the streets and that act alone earned the love of this young man for Papa Jimmy. A few months later, it occurred to me just how faithful God has been to these boys.
When they were young and vulnerable, God sent Papa Jimmy, the protector, to try to mitigate the violence that they faced on the streets.
Then, the last five years of their adolescence, God sent Mike and Carrie, the providers, to bring them into a loving orphanage.
Then it was time to leave the orphanage. They needed to be able to protect and provide for themselves. So God sent my husband to Haiti and this single trip, as many of you know, was the beginning of HandUp.
“God is Father to the fatherless and the defender of the widows in His holy dwelling.” (Psalm 68:5)
The story of the boys of HandUp reminds me that He protects and defends through regular people like you and me.
My prayer for these young men is that one day they will be able to fully live these father roles for their own community, church and children. That the word “father” would entail all the good things that our own children experience with their fathers. It’s more than just protection and provision—it’s giggles and tickles and stern talks and late night prayers. It’s temporarily pulling the plug on your life to go be with your grown son who is struggling through his last course of college. I was talking to a friend on the phone the other day and he shared with me that he was staying with his son in another state because he knew it was the right thing to do. I was amazed at his dedication to leave his business so he could provide the emotional support his son needed. This is being a father.
Good daddies give their children layers of confidence, assurance and security that is hard to attain otherwise. That’s why so many of us are messed up. Did I just say that? I know I struggled because I had a father who barely provided and who hurt me instead of protected me. Yet, I learned the richness of a father figure through my father-in-law and through watching my husband interact with our children.
I dedicate this blog to all the fathers and father-figures who are out there protecting, providing and infusing their children with steadfast security. YOU really do make the world a safer place to live.
Click here to gift your local hero with a HUGG that gives back to young men who’ve aged out of orphanages.
“All my life, people have seen the palms of my hands, but now they get to see the back of them, too.” Marcial spoke these words to me as we were finishing up a satisfying dinner in the cool of the evening. It had rained that day in the capital city of Haiti and the showers had absorbed the heat released by the Caribbean sun. These powerful words seemed out of place coming from this meek, slender young man with a sheepish smile.
It’s hard for my first-world mind to grasp how a child survives life on the streets. For many of the orphaned children of Port-au-Prince, there are no families who can lend a hand. There are no government programs, shelters, soup kitchens or even friends whose houses they can crash for the evening.
There is hunger, violence, drugs and the daily struggle for survival. No one knows this better than Marcial.
As he spoke, I tried to imagine him as a child. I pictured him, small and timid, begging for food and money on the street corners like so many children do in Haiti. Hands out. Yet, he is one of the lucky ones. An American couple started a boys’ home in Port-au-Prince and Marcial was able to live out the last five years of his adolescence there. He relied on the kindness of strangers for his survival.
The problem is that no nation has ever climbed out of poverty with their hands out.
That is why HandUp Global Goods (HUGG) seeks to eliminate a life of handouts for teens aging out of orphanages. By giving them a HandUp, we allow them to lift themselves out of poverty.
Today, Marcial is an artisan at HandUp and for the first time in his life, he gets to show others the back of his hands. He earns a fair wage and can now take part in a transactional-based economy where more than two-thirds of adults lack formal jobs.
Carving out opportunities is critical in ailing economies and from my experience, charity doesn’t typically forecast long-lasting solutions. Commerce, on the other hand, is a powerful catalyst for positive social transformation.
Our hope is that the ripple effects of these artisanal jobs will open doors for more jobs, trades and innovation in impoverished communities. Imagine hands that have begged for so long transforming into Haiti’s workforce. This is our vision and the reason we give a HandUP.
It feels good to be in a place where you can give of your time, talents and resources, and Marcial is getting a taste of that through the community work he does through HandUp. There is dignity, joy and gratitude when we give back and as he puts it, “people can now see the back of my hands.” Powerful words from this young man. But as experience has shown me, these former street boys need to consistently be reminded that they have the right to live out these new stories of givers and leaders. It’s so easy for them to sink back into what they thought they were for so long. It takes convincing, patience and unconditional love.
Fashion that Fuels Social Transformation
I think of all the Marcials of the world and wonder how something as simple as shifting my shopping habits could potentially allow people like him the freedom to give for the first time in their lives. To give food to their loved ones, to give them a roof over their heads, to give something to those with nothing. To SHOW the back of their hands.
That night, preparing for bed, those words repeated themselves in my head. “I now get to show the back of my hands. Back of my hands. Hands.” Every garment touched by my hands in a fancy department store was MADE by someone else’s hands. I know this. While I don’t know their story, I do feel a connection to those workers who make my beautiful things. Because of people like Marcial, I now feel compelled to ask “Was this person paid a fair wage?” “Were their human rights violated in any way?” “Is she able to give her loved ones what they need?” My hands have the potential to transform a life when I choose to use my purchasing power for good.
Buying fairly-traded apparel and accessories not only allows impoverished artisans to earn for themselves, it gives them the freedom to give. For Marcial, this one act has given him a deep satisfaction. For me, it’s done the opposite. I know it will take all of us to pursue fashion that transforms lives.
Ready to join the HandUp movement? Here is a great place to start!
Short-term mission trips to different countries have a way of causing us to glamorize every experience we come across.We go expecting every experience to be exotic, unfamiliar and exhilarating.This can cause us to romanticize even the mundane parts of our trip.From the transportation methods, the language, the pace and the food, we tend to put too much emphasis on experience.
One example: while in Belize a few years ago, we were eating at the hotel restaurant and drinking some very fine coffee. If you know me you know I have a deep love affair with coffee.Several of us were lamenting how great the coffee was and wondering if we could find this coffee locally.We asked the server what the brand of coffee was and where we could find it.He wasn’t sure of the brand but said it was easy to find as it was in a bright blue container.We looked everywhere for this coffee over the next few days to no avail, so we begged him to show us the container so we could finally see where this finest of coffees could be found. The server went searching for the container as we waited excitedly.He emerged from the kitchen looking half confused and annoyed carrying a bright blue plastic container of…Maxwell House coffee. Our server proceeded to tell us we could find it anywhere, including in the states. That wasn’t what we were expecting. It was this moment that allowed me to re-evaluate how I was approaching the trip and each experience I came across.
The International Mission Board (IMB) posted a blog on their Facebook page recently titled “5 Ways Not to Return Home From a Mission Trip.”In it the author, Elliot Clark, looks at ways Christians can return from a mission trip and have the wrong attitude and outlook as they are asked to reflect on their trip.The author defines the wrong ways as; the Expert, the Called, the Critic, the Exaggerator and the Enthusiastic. I believe how we come home from these trips can be heavily determined by how we prepare beforehand.
As I prepared to go to Haiti, my second trip there, I thought about this blog post. I thought about how might I prepare myself before I left so I stay grounded in what we’re going to do.I wanted everything I saw to be through the eyes of God, so I could see what He has been doing in Haiti way before I even thought about going there.I reminded myself God has not been waiting around for me to go back to Haiti so He could finally get to work. No, I needed to see where God has already been working and join Him in that work for the short period I am there.I needed to allow Him to show me, “This is what I am doing, will you join Me?”Also, I needed to listen and respect those that spend many weeks a year there, those that live there and have been called into a life of ministry to the people in Haiti.
Two of those groups that have been working in Haiti for some time now: Hand Up Global Goods and Grangou.They are who we went to support in the ministries they already have established in Haiti. Come back next week to hear specifically what these organizations are doing in Haiti, how God is using them to not only minister to orphans but how those they are ministering to are starting their own ministries.What an amazing concept…minister to some of the neediest people in Haiti, disciple them into Godly young men and then support them as they begin to minister to their own people.It is one of the most beautiful, touching things witnessed.Oh, what God can do when we simply allow Him to take control.
I remember, back in my late teens, when well-meaning people counseled me on improving my circumstances. I’d sift through their kind words looking for applicable wisdom but their advice was often oversimplified and unadaptable. Before me stood towering obstacles built over years of living in poverty under the rule of an abusive father. I’d wonder, “What would they say if I told them the uncut version of my story?” Most of the time, I didn’t dare and I’d just smile and nod my head. Little did they know that their clean and simple formulas were foreign to my daily struggles.
But I wasn’t going to tell THEM that. Why bother spoiling their good efforts?
I think about these experiences in my work today. I try to resist giving well-meaning advice to young men who have experienced more horrors than my heart could handle. Sometimes I wonder if the words I choose to share with them is like a blind person trying to give physical directions to someone who is lost. How will I know when to tell them to turn left or right if I’m unaware of the pylons and potholes in the road?
Instill a Them a Moral Compass
Yet, as former street children, it is clear they need guidance. They need someone to help them find their way just as I did 20 years ago. So if you’re in a position of serving the marginilized, acknowledge that you will NOT get their whole, explicit story and therefore can’t apply blanket statements to cover their problems. Give them the means to discover their own truth and empower them to create their own map towards success. No one knows the pylons and potholes better than they—
If you want to build solidarity with the people you are serving; you MUST be relevant–not in some dorky poser way–but a connection must be pursued on a deep and meaningful level. Below are FIVE THINGS I’ve learned over the years of working with marginalized people.
Don’t be afraid to ask for details if you are not understanding a person’s predicament. You need to make it clear that the details are important to you. If they don’t want to share, that’s okay. But try to set your preconceived ideas aside and listen to them as if you were living in their home or community. Try to see life through their perspective.
Emphasize the Process.
Often, the boys in our program think that money will solve their problems. If Jesus had intended for money to be the fixer of all things, he would have nailed hundred dollar bills to the cross. Instead He gave us His life. There are no quick fixes to most problems because He intended for us to learn through the process of following Him. Whether it is to cultivate faith, learn problem-solving skills, attain wisdom, live out experiences or give opportunities —God works His good through all circumstances, but we must be open to allowing the circumstances to teach us.
It may sound naïve to say this—but I have been in situations that made NO sense outside of clinging to the process for the sake of spiritual growth. I always try to stay open to what God is trying to teach me, but it’s hard to say this to others who are suffering. Instead, I ask questions that might lead them to understanding the “whys” and “hows” of their circumstances.
Be Vulnerable. Be Real.
I don’t have all the answers and don’t pretend that I do. Sometimes I just listen and lament alongside the stories I hear. Sometimes I am reminded of a story that I lived through that could possibly be of encouragement to the listener. There is a solidarity built among leaders and the people they serve when we allow our humanity to show.
Paul Woodward, from Impact Houston, an inner-city missions church, was the first to teach me the beauty in vulnerability. I had always seen my vulnerability as a weakness but he taught me how to use it as a tool for ministry. I was on staff with him for a few years and was struck by the way he empowered the people he helped. He mitigated their “neediness” by punctuating his efforts with an “you would do the same for me if I needed it.” Such simple words but significant for people needing a handup.
Search God’s Word for Applicable Wisdom.
Someone recently told me that they wished there was a third biblical testament to address so many issues that we have in modern times. While I understood the sentiment, the relevance of God’s word never ceases to surprise me. Your search engine is great for looking for applicable verses if you put in the key words. Take some time and research relevant scripture and set up a follow up conversation to share the insights gleaned. For example, this past week at HandUp Haiti, we learned about the importance of planning and prayer before launching new ministries.
Several of our young men want to give back but I realize that they haven’t been given the tools to minister effectively. In the midst of explaining this concept, one of them stood up and read Ecclesiastes 7:8. This verse alone opened up conversations in a way that I wouldn’t have been able to do on my own. It impacted them deeply as they realized, some for the first time, that a ministry mustn’t be started if there are no steps in place to see it through.
Take a Risk
I realize you can’t take a risk for everyone if you are in a leadership position in ministry, but you CAN let people know you care by doing one thing apart from praying and encouraging. There is so much TRUTH to the cliché; “Actions are louder than words.” My life changed radically the moment a ministry leader jumped into my messy life and helped me with specific obstacles that I couldn’t fight alone. That single “yes” on his part, opened up doors that allowed me to heal and grow.
I think about the measured risks that I can take for these young men not because I have something to prove, but because God’s love has already been proven to all.
The last thing I want is for these young men to smile and nod and politely wait for me to finish giving them the “wealth of my knowledge”. Perhaps I’ve done a little of this and they walk away wondering what in the world I just said. So sorry!!!!
It’s only when they see the relevance of ministry in their lives that they will become DOERS. They are the ones who will fill the potholes and tear down the pylons that stand in the way of progress. Your job is to help them etch out the road map.
How do you make your ministry effective and meaningful to the people you are serving?
Natul writes about running a non-profit, social justice, orphan care and prevention, faith in the works, and reaching out to local and global neighbors.