As I try to put the complexity of this into words, I cannot help but acknowledge the beauty of an early spring that is bringing forth new life here in Texas. As much hope as that brings, Haiti sits in dark contrast.
Very little media coverage has documented the events of the past week. Due to political unrest, large demonstrations have paralyzed most of the country. Roads are barricaded preventing Haitians from accessing food, water and medical care. Gas and diesel are difficult to find, if one can even make it out of his home. Businesses and schools are closed. Gangs control many of the major roadways. Their money has little purchasing power.
The problems are so complex and it’s hard to begin to understand the corruption, injustice and unfairness that we will never personally know.
However, the people of Haiti are resilient. They are survivors. They are beautiful. But, they need our help. We are asking you to stand with HUGG during this time. Here’s how:
PRAY! We will update prayer needs daily. Only God can bring hope and peace to this beautiful country.
DONATE! While we continue to operate on our founding principal of providing a hand up and not a hand out, we need to stand with our Christian brothers and sisters in Haiti to support them during this time. Many people we know and love there are unable to purchase the necessities of life right now – water, food, medical care and fuel. Help HUGG be the hands and feet of Jesus today.
PURCHASE our products! We have an amazing inventory here in the states of beautiful HUGG products. Not only will your purchase encourage our artisans, it will provide the necessary funds to continue programs in Haiti.
We are in constant communication with our Haitian staff. All are safe and riding out this storm in their homes. In the meantime, we make sure they have access to food, water and basic living supplies. Our founder’s brother, Denim, said it best today:
“In these situations, trusting the Lord takes on a whole new meaning. Here at the HandUp house we have fuel, food and God’s favor.”
Denim Ramirez, Director of Manufactoring
Thank you for supporting us during this critical time. We know that God is in control. We pray that calm will return soon, and our artisans can work. Our Spring collection is AMAZING and we are working hard to overcome the chaos and deliver the goods that you love.
Kandis Dennis, HUGG Founding Board Member
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!” John 16:33
Let me assure you that this is NOT a call for donations.
What I am asking is the following:
For you to consider carrying HUGG pieces in your church book stores, coffee shops, gift shops and lobbies.
For church leaders to learn more about a movement that seeks to create jobs in impoverished communities such as Haiti. We should be casting a vote to support artisans like Max by using our purchasing dollars for good. 100% of HUGG sales go back into our operations to create more jobs in Haiti. But more importantly, your purchase is saving lives.
Let me explain HOW:
Two weeks ago, I had the privilege of meeting with the Association to Save the Children in Canaan and Onaville.
This committee was founded on the principles that all children have the right to shelter, education and access to food. Canaan is located about 10 miles outside of the capital city of Port-au-Prince. It is a post-earthquake, make-shift city settled on dry dusty hills with no plumbing nor electricity. It is a hard place for a family to carve out a living, but it is even harder for the children that drifted to this settlement without an adult to care for them.
Max, a HandUp artisan, knows just how hard it is to be an orphaned child in Haiti. He found himself a homeless teenager in Canaan. Although he loved his village, he knew that God was calling him to the city of Port-au-Prince. He didn’t know what he would find there, but he knew the answers were ahead of him.
After a few months of living on the streets of Port-au-Prince, Max was approached by a young man by the name of Patrick. Patrick had just aged out of an orphanage and was living with 6 other young men who had transitioned from the same boys’ home. Later Patrick would share with me the reason he was drawn to Max.
“I knew we needed someone like Max in the apartment. We needed someone to teach us more about the Bible and Jesus.”
After several visits with this young evangelist, Patrick invited Max into the tiny 3-room apartment he and the other young men shared. It wasn’t long before Max carved his place within this band of brothers. It would be months still before I’d show up in their apartment, asking these young men whether they wanted a job. These 8 would become the backbone of the HandUp program.
As soon as Max started receiving a steady income through HandUp, he went back to Canaan. It was simple at first. He started out by purchasing rice, beans and oil for a local lady to cook for some of the orphans there. Then it grew to him building a shanty for 16 parentless children.
He had very little resources and several of the other HUGG artisans started pitching in to help meet some of the children’s basic needs. Aside from taking care of the 16 most vulnerable children, he started working with other needy children in the community. Bible studies, crafts, singing and dancing all became part of a weekly program under Max’s leadership.
But it was too much for him to bear. He witnessed two little children die simply of infections that could have been prevented with antibiotics. After this incident, my Life Group in Conroe, Texas started supporting some of Max’s efforts by providing for food costs and allowing him to set aside some savings for emergencies.
These extra funds were the catalyst that Max needed to jumpstart his program. He formed a committee with HandUp artisans and local community members to bolster their efforts towards saving children from the grips of poverty.
Under Max’s leadership, the group has committed to taking care of 12 of the 16 orphans under Max’s care. The 12 boys will be living in a one-room house rented just for them. The rest of the group are girls and I will save their story for another day. We will continue to partner with the committee until we’ve placed each little girl in a loving home. But for now, this committee does the best they can to meet the needs of these children that God has entrusted in their care.
Without HandUp Global Goods…
There would have been no job for Max and the other artisans.
Without a job, they would have been too busy surviving Haiti rather than helping Haiti survive and THRIVE.
Tools for Ministry
Max’s efforts to build a program in Canaan is a result of what he has learned under the leadership of HandUp staff. Education, spiritual discipleship, and mentoring are all things that have been poured into Max over the last three years. Without this holistic approach, Max would not have had the necessary skills to lead this ministry in Canaan.
A HandUp, Not a Handout
Because of one job, 16 orphans have their basic needs being met.
Because we give a handUp and not a handout, young men are experiencing a dignity attainable only through the work of their own hands.
Young Haitian men like Max must be employed, mentored, and trained so that they can be the ones to help their communities.
Once, these young men were destined towards the path of becoming orphan makers. Because of their jobs with HandUp, they’ve broken through systemic poverty and are being transformed into Opportunity Makers.
The Struggle is Real
Although our retail and wholesale orders are slowly gaining momentum; our donations are at an all-time low. Without these funds, we are unable to meet our operational expenses on the ground.
But I’ll be honest–it’s the sales that we need. We have beautiful pieces that tell an equally beautiful story. If we tell it right, God’s church WILL RISE to the occasion. I know God cares about the makers that make the things we wear and He desires to use the church to bless them, not to exploit them.
There are 23 young men in our program. Many who are also making an impact in the communities in which they live. Would you allow us an opportunity to share their stories in your church?
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:
Seriously…..the baby fever has been real lately. Don’t worry…I’m straight up squelching that little feeling. The good news is that I have a sweet new baby niece that I get to squeeze on (and trust me, she is the most squeezable) and it helps calm that fever right down.
There are so many great things about a tiny: the new baby smell, their little squishy cheeks, and all of the super fun things to buy them. Seriously, shopping for my kids is so fun…maybe too much fun. But is “too much fun” really a real thing? Anyway, I am completely off topic.
Do you want a chance to win this super-soft lovie for the sweet baby in your life?
Haiti Babi creates beautifully knitted baby products handcrafted by mamas in Haiti. Katlin Jackson Svik, founder of Haiti Babi, was heartbroken over that fact that many parents are not able to afford to feed their children, which means they end up in orphanages. In fact, in Haiti, 1 in 10 children live in an orphanage and 80% of those children actually have living parents. They are called poverty orphans and it is a tragedy that parents should have to make this decision. The goal of Haiti Babi is to create jobs for moms so they can care for their children because “every mom should have the opportunity to care for her child.”
The items the artisans at Haiti Babi create are nothing short of stunning. Exquisite artisanship, beautiful modern designs are perfect for any child in your life. Today, just in time for Christmas, we are doing a giveaway for a sage green Turtle Baby Lovie. This gift is not only perfect for the baby in your life but this gift also tells a story. A story about how a mom was able to make this for the baby in your life in order to provide for the baby in her life.
All you have to do is like our page, share this post and tag 3 friends. We will announce the winner on Tuesday at noon.
Please know that it is never too early to put on the Christmas music, do some holiday baking, and get some shopping out of the way. You have my permission. You’re welcome.
Did you know that November is Orphan Care Awareness month? In lieu of this, we will be focusing on fair trade children products that give back to the community. I love this week’s product from the adorable company of Cuddle and Kind. I discovered them through their Instagram feed (follow them, you will thank me). Their goal is to provide fair trade products that help feed children. One doll equals 10 meals! Child hunger is a devastating social issue that impacts children all over the world, including right here in our own backyard. According to World Child Hunger, approximately 3.1 million children die from hunger each year. In America, 1 in 6 children are not sure where their next meal will come from.
The folks at Cuddle and Kind partner with reputable organizations like World Food Program USA to provide school meals to 18.2 million children each year. In addition, they also help feed orphans in impoverished countries like Haiti.
They sell beautifully, hand-knitted dolls. Seriously, they are so cute and lovable, it was hard for me to choose which one I wanted. So naturally, I asked an expert (my 6-year-old) which she liked the best and she choose Chloe the bunny. Chloe was born on August 12th and her favorite quote is, “leave a little sparkle wherever you go.” Her goal is to provide 1 million meals each year. She is a special bunny. No matter which doll you choose, you can feel good knowing that each doll was ethically made in Peru by artisans that receive a fair wage.
So who thinks Chloe would make a super cute gift for a little that you know?
She can be yours!!! All you have to do is Like Us on Instagram or on Facebook and tag 3 friends who may want a little Chloe in their life. The winner will be announced on Tuesday the 8th. So start liking and start sharing.
I didn’t know how to respond. The pictures that I was seeing unveiled what a roaring storm leaves behind. Devastation. The HandUp team felt grateful that Port-au-Prince had been spared this brutal blow, but we mourned for the people of Southern Haiti.
The more pictures we saw and reports that we heard, the more we knew we had to do something. So we did what any other concerned citizen would do, we posted it on Facebook! We offered to donate half of our HUGG Original sales to relief efforts. Neighbors and friends were asked to contribute. Our Facebook feeds were filled with information to generate attention towards Hurricane Matthew relief efforts.
As a result, one neighbor responded to my call for action and donated $500. Later that week someone in my church Life Group asked about what the needs were. I responded with a brutally honest, “Whatever damages you can imagine in your head, it is far worse than that.” The situation required a better answer but I couldn’t really provide that answer because I didn’t know.
I don’t know what it feels like to weather a massive hurricane with sheet metal and sticks as shelter. My heart and mind can’t fathom what its like to have crying babies on my hip with no food and contaminated water. How can one convey the magnitude of grief in a simple word like “damages”?
No shelter. No food. Contaminated water.
I can’t even process it because my hard has never been THAT kind of hard.
Thanks to that one question by a concerned church member, our class collected another $500. We now had $1,000 for me to take to Haiti. I was already pretty grateful that evening. While grocery shopping, someone texted me asking if it was alright to donate to HandUp and earmark the money for relief efforts. “OF COURSE!” I replied. That night, we got an additional $1,000 from a lady whose heart had been burdened by what she heard that Sunday morning.
Once in Haiti, our team came up with a plan to bring help to some families in Ley Cayes in the Southern Penninsula of Haiti. I had no idea how far the $2,000 would stretch but it was SOMETHING and I knew it would do SOMETHING.
Yesterday morning, as I was sipping on a hot cup of Chik-fil-a coffee watching my 3 and 4 year olds play in the jungle gym, I received pictures from Haiti. I choked back the tears when I saw what the $2,000 accomplished. As I scanned through Jude’s photo journal of his time in Les Cayes, I thought of the couple from my neighborhood who donated the $500. I remembered the collection can going around in my Life Group and the text I got from lovely lady who donated $1,000.
I see these pictures and I am reminded that a little bit of good goes a long way. It took a few people saying “yes” to reaching beyond their own lives to bring a little bit of good to hard lives.
A few people gave a little bit of their good away. And now these people pictured will get to sleep under new shiny roofs with full bellies. I dedicate this entry to what I am calling, the Angels of Ley Cayes. This includes Jude, our new on-the-ground director’s husband, who made the trek south in order to deliver these life-giving supplies.
Imagine the impact if a few more people joined in and provided roofs and rice for more families and widows. What if we provided seed money for the people of Ley Cayes to replant their lost crops?
If you are familiar with HandUp’s approach to poverty alleviation, then you know that we are resistant to giving out charity to people who have the potential to work and to lift themselves out of poverty.
We strive to maintain the dignity of the young men with whom we work by equipping them with training and jobs and with opportunities to partner together. This is the HandUp philosophy.
But in the wise words of Ecclesiastes 3:
“…. There is a time for everything….a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh….”
We rejoice that Port-au-Prince, for the most part, was spared from destructive rains and wind. Further, our team is in good spirits and grateful for the grace that protected them from the storm.
I wish I could say the same about the people in Southwest Haiti. At this time, they mourn for lives lost, villages demolished and crops swept away in an already food-scarce land. Now is the time to give. According to on the ground sources, the most immediate needs in the area include:
2. Medical care for the injured
4. Construction Assistance
Mission Aviation Fellowship
One day after Matthew hammered the Western Peninsula of Haiti, I followed updates of an on-the-ground pilot living in Port-au-Prince. The organization he works for is Mission Aviation Fellowship. Although I didn’t make the immediate connection, there was something about MAF that drew me in. The pilot, Michael Broyles, is currently assessing damage because he can fly to these inaccessible areas (bridges and roads have been washed out). He is able to get aid workers in and out so that they can deliver life-saving supplies to desperate people.
So, last night at church, I mentioned MAF to a friend and she responds, “Wait a minute, wasn’t that the organization that Roland Sedlmeier flew for?” It was! This family of 4 was tragically killed in a car wreck last September and their death shook our community. In the days following the accident, they were on the hearts and minds of moms, dads, children and church leaders as they were involved in the lives of so many here. It seemed like everyone I spoke to had a connection to this sweet family. To mark the anniversary of their story, loved ones hosted a 5K on September 20th and our very own Kay Peterson ran in it with her son.
A Time to Help
I knew I had to help! Both the Broyles and Sedlmeier families were involved in work that seeks to share the love of Jesus Christ with remote people through aviation and technology. The Sedlmeier family shared this love with the people in Africa and Broyles family is currently serving the people of Haiti.
Although I am choosy about organizations that I support, this connection sealed the deal for me. Donating toward their efforts in Haiti is the right move for our family and it just might be the right move for yours.
Hurricane Matthew ushered in a season of weeping and loss for the people of the Western Peninsula. September 20th, 2015, rained down deep mourning for the loved ones of the Sedlmeier family. But the same God, who allows these seasons of loss, is the God who seeks to restore the hearts of men. Redemption is a powerful thing and the mystery of it all is beyond my comprehension. But, I do know this, He uses you and me to restore, rebuild, and relieve.