Blog Archives

Starting a new chapter

As usual, it’s been a little while since I last wrote. I have since left Haiti and moved to the Twin Cities area in Minnesota. Leaving Haiti was no easy thing. I miss it everyday, but I know I am the right spot for me at this moment.

When I made the decision to leave Haiti earlier this year and began processing what that might look like, I knew I had to find a way to keep my roots where they had grown deep. Living in Haiti for five years I had meet many amazing people, from those who came on teams, to my students and of course many many others who called Haiti home. From the desire to stay close to Haiti, Cedar and Cypress Designs was born. Since I left Haiti in June, I have been working on becoming a business owner. I can proudly say that as of July 31st, I officially am!

Cedar and Cypress Designs is an on line retail store where you can purchase all sorts of jewelry and other products for you and your home. All the products are hand made in Haiti. Each of the companies I partner with as suppliers are people I know personally. People who have big hearts for Haiti and understand the importance of socially aware business practices and what a dignified living wage can mean to a person.

As I have relocated back to the United States, I am able to get the products I fell in love with in Haiti out to consumers in the US. I started this new chapter as the new school year in Haiti is also beginning. My heart misses the kids and everything that is in Haiti, but I know that thought Cedar and Cypress Designs, I’ll be visiting home soon. I will continue to blog on this site, but I will also be blogging on the Cedar and Cypress Designs website as well.

Thank you for following my journey, for praying for me, thinking about me and supporting me. I hope you will continue to check in and I will continue to update!

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Consistently amazed!

Sunday afternoon I was not around and Julie was invited to the women’s group of Tabarre weekly meeting. On Wednesday we started training with our 20 new women at RG, many who are from the Women’s Group of Tabarre.
When Julie showed up she received a warm welcome. While talking to Jolina who has been with RG since its inception she was informed of an orphanage in the area with 29 kids who are in dire need of help. It is Haitian run and Haitian supported. A few of our new women are involved with this orphanage as they took in their children when their families were unable to provide for them.
After receiving their first pay check a few of the new staff members took the money and gave it to the orphanage to help pay for food. Jolina asked Julie if she could help in support. Julie who to date refuses to take an American salary is unable to donate any more money to more causes.
However, Jolina and the women in the group came up with the idea to approach the staff at the RG shop, explain the needs of the orphanage and see who would consider donating a bit of their salary each week to the orphanage. Many of our current staff do give to the orphanage weekly, but it was amazing that Claudette- who hadn’t even worked a full week was so thoughtful and generous.
When Julie told me this story I was in complete awe of the selflessness and compassion of our artisans and the women in the group. This shouldn’t be a big surprise, not a day goes by where the resilience and love of our staff ceases to surprise me. They are loving, compassionate, beautiful people and I am so blessed they are all a part of RG, not to mention my friends.
I am not sure what the rest of the staff will decide to do, but I will update when I hear! Please pray for our staff, the people of Haiti and children everywhere who are not living in a true home.

REBUILD Globally artisans stand up for JUSTICE

As of May 5th I have officially resigned from World Wide Village. It has been a difficult few months, but as always, worth every experience. I learned a great deal from my time at WWV, but I know my time there was coming to an end. I signed a six month contract, but sometimes God doesn’t think along the same time lines as we do, his timing was a bit shorter.

I officially started with REBUILD Globally on Monday May 7th. On Sunday May 6th the REUILD Globally shop was vandalized. Windows were broken, suitcases of donations were dumped all over, and our fire extinguishers were poured on everything in all of our containers. Immediately the staff organized themselves to begin cleaning. They pulled everything out of the shop, dusted and washed it off and put it all back together better than before! We used the opportunity to our advantage as we are getting ready to expand and hire 19 new artisans though the Quick Impact Grant (QIP) from the UN we recently received.

My staff photo for REBUILD Globally!

On Wednesday Sandra and I learned how to make REBUILDERS! We got glue all over ourselves, but it was a fun experience, especially for those of us who are crafty (sorry Sandra)! We returned to the lodge for lunch to find mayhem had broken out…

Sandra and I making REBUILDERS!

As mentioned in the press release, three representatives from World Wide Modular Construction (WMC) showed up with lawyers, judges and documents stating they were seizing the Caribbean Lodge. Apparently their first order of business after seizing the Lodge was to kick us off, once again I found myself Homeless in Haiti!!!

We were given 30 minutes to pack all of our belonging, luckily I had just moved in and all my things were still in boxes! We moved everything over to the REBUILD shop and found a hotel. The REBUILD shop, remember had been vandalized only four days prior…what an interesting coincidence!!!

The following day we woke up to a phone call from the land owner where the REBUILD workshop is, he informed us he received a call from WMC stating they would be coming to claim the containers and scrap on his property, ‘by force if necessary’. Those containers were donated by WMC over two years ago-apparently they forgot about that generous deed. The land owner, understandably, did not want to get in the middle of it all and told them they could come Thursday.

The local and international community in Haiti mobilized quickly to move all salvageable material onto a bus and into existing buildings on the land where WMC could not touch. We are so grateful to our friends at Haiti Communitere and our artisans for their hard work; everyone really stepped up and rose to the occasion to help!

Most of the workshop on a bus!

On Thursday we showed up on the land ready to defend our workshop and everything REBUILD stands for; our artisans were all there with us. At 11:00 AM the three representatives from WMC showed up on the land ready to take back their donations. Equipped with lawyers and judges we all stood around staring at each other, no one saying a word for a good ten minutes; it was all very awkward, like a middle school dance.

When the cranes showed up they passed by the scraps near the entrance to the property heading directly to the REBUILD Workshop and newly refurbished school house! Although we tried to stay tough, the tears were ready to pour if those buildings were taken or destroyed. The containers were so damaged when we received them the floors of the workshop are cemented in and the roof came all the way from Leogane; donate by volunteers from European Disaster Volunteers (EDV).

Our artisans divided and conquered, explaining to the different Judges and Lawyers-fellow Haitians, what the RG shop means to their lives and the community it belongs to. As the crane was in place and swinging around the judge ruled it to stop asking simply they take their scraps first. Discussions between the land owners, judges, representatives from WMC and REBUILD Artisans continued.

The land owner asked WMC representatives to act gentlemanly, to leave their donations and take their scraps; to which a WMC representative responded with ‘At this point I cannot do that.” Emotions were all over the place, I’m not quite sure how it all transpired, but in the end the land owner made a decision.  Worldwide Modular Construction was to take their scraps and leave the REBUILD Globally work shop!

I cannot tell you why WMC wanted their donations back. I can tell you someone must have really wanted that shop gone because when the decision came thru that the shop was to stay the reactions of WMC representatives were not pretty. They quickly collected themselves and get off our generously donated land.

The RG Workshop still standing in the background!

The containers we have as our workshop were all scrap-bad floors or walls; they all needed a lot of work. Volunteers, staff and artisans worked countless hours restoring and making the shop what it is today. Thank you to everyone who has ever taken part in REBUILD Globally, one way or another you all made it what it is today. Founder and CEO, Julie Colombino, has always said REBUILD is not ‘I’ it is ‘we’; there is no one person who makes REBUILD.

Please help us at REBUILD share our story! Unjust acts like this are happening all over Haiti-all over the world! Haiti is a vulnerable country, still working on recovering from one of the deadliest natural disasters in history. We will not allow anyone to take advantage of us, our artisans or this country! We will continue to follow President Martelly in his campaign to “Build Back Better!”

“We went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.” -Psalm 66:12

To watch the video of this day, click on the link below:


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