The last two trips to Canaan gave me the seed for a question. The gift/knowledge that I have, is it possible to share with others who so lack basic resources to help them in some way?
With the sharing grace of the Metalwerx community in Waltham, Massachusetts, we made wedding rings for the brides in Canaan, Haiti in 2018. This was a heartwarming project, not only for the receivers but also the givers. After I moved to California, I joined another jewelry guild group at the Palo Alto Art Center (PAAC). To the members of PAAC, I proposed the idea of teaching how to make beaded jewelry to the women of Canaan, Haiti. That is when I met geologist/jeweler Leslie Gordon who wanted to go and teach the women in Canaan Haiti. https://www.cityofpaloalto.org/gov/depts/csd/artcenter/news/displaynews.asp?NewsID=4483
The original trip was planned for the 3rd week of February 2019; however, because of the unrest in Haiti at that time, the trip was delayed. This turned out to be a blessing as the additional time allowed Leslie and me to be better prepared for the jewelry teaching classes that took place in Haiti.
In July, we arrived in Canaan, Haiti with over 50 pounds of donated beads, tools, and materials that we collected from our generous studio mates, who also helped with sorting and packaging to make over 80 bead kits and 10 tool kits. Further, we brought many finished jewelry pieces that were also donated. Leslie and I taught a class for 4 days, Monday through Thursday, with each class having approximately 20 women and lasting 3-4 hours. Even in the heat and humidity of mid-day Haiti, we literally had to ask the women to leave at the end of class as they continued to stay and work on their jewelry. At the end of each class, the participants voted on the 5 best jewelry pieces. The winners were then allowed to select a prize from the finished jewelry items that we brought with us and asked to return on Thursday for a more advanced jewelry class.
At the end of the advanced class on Thursday, Leslie and I selected 5 women who seemed to show most passion and capability to start a jewelry business. These women were given the leftover tools and beads with which they could pursue their business aspirations. We asked the women to meet regularly and work together as a group. They agreed to team up, support each other and be accountable to one another. The excitement shared by the women was palpable and inspiring.
It was an amazing experience for both Leslie and me to be able to share this whole process. There was so much joy, passion, the eagerness to learn with lots of sweat! Yes, it was hot, hot and hot. Leslie and I bathed in our own sweat while we were running around showing the women how to make different things. But at the end of each day, she and I fell asleep with such happy tiredness. For the people who are so short on resources, these beautiful colorful beads brought them not only jewelry but also the hope of a better life!
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