I knew I was going to like Berline Mesalomon the moment I met her. She has a smile that lights up the whole room. Berline is one of five women that I’ve trained to make Ties That Matter products. She is a lovely, bright young woman with a terrific sense of humor. At least I think she does – humor sometimes gets lost in translation when you speak different languages. All I know is that we laugh a lot together.
One of the products that these women make is a small “village doll.” Each doll holds something representative of Haitian village life – a baby, a piece of embroidery or a chicken. (They’re super cute – check them out on our products page, www.tiesthatmatter.org/our-products/. Hey, come to think of it, a village doll holding a chicken would make a fantastic Easter gift for someone, and would support our efforts in Haiti at the same time!) Berline and the others caught on quickly and seemed to love making these little dolls. I encouraged them to decide for themselves what they would like for the dolls to hold and gave them the choices in both English and Creole – “chicken – poul” “baby – bebe” or “sewing – koud”. After a moment, Berline stood up and said in a perfect southern drawl, “I choose chicken!”
I burst out laughing. I never think that I have much of a southern accent but obviously, I do. It tickles me to think that my friend Berline will speak English with my accent and that I’ll speak Creole with hers. It somehow seems just right.
Berline is one of the more prosperous members of the village of Nan Mango. In addition to the sewing, she teaches at the school. Her house is not far from the school and church buildings and while not large by any standard, it is neat and orderly with a few flowers growing in the front. She has no electricity, of course, electricity is a remote dream for this village. She “only” has to walk about a mile to get water and she has a little bit of income to feed her children and, if necessary, to take them to the health clinic, about a two hour’s walk away. Although I don’t know for sure, I suspect that she has a donkey to help haul water and supplies.
I asked Berline (through an interpreter) what she did with the money she made from sewing for Ties That Matter and she answered that she helped care for the children. I interviewed all five of my sewers and every single one of them said they used the money to help the children. Hunger is a fact of life for many of the children here and not everyone gets to eat every day. Extra income in the village helps ease that situation.
Until you’ve been there, it’s almost impossible to understand how the people in this village live. Wells, cisterns and latrines are few and far between, most of the men work growing grains and vegetables on the surrounding hillsides. The women do what they can to earn a little money.
Ties That Matter has already had a positive impact on this village but success comes with responsibility. As we begin to help these women earn money and self respect, they begin to count on us to keep bringing them work. So, I made my plane reservations yesterday to go back to Haiti in May – of course, taking along as many ties as I possibly can! I need to go back, my friends are waiting.
As always, thanks for your support . Let us hear from you!
Executive Director, Ties That Matter
Ties That Matter is made up of a community of people tied together by a common dream of a whole and healthy earth and a shared belief that we are responsible for one another.