By Elizabeth Hazard
When PeaceQuilts founder Jeanne Staples first traveled to Haiti 11 years ago, she had an inkling of an idea. She wanted to learn the stories of the women she met there through story quilts. Little did she know how much this simple idea would impact the lives of the women of Haiti and herself. Stitch by stitch, and quilt by quilt, the Haitian women she has met over the years have found friendship, creative self-expression and financial independence. Here, in her own words, Jean Staples tells us about the success of PeaceQuilts and its impact on the Haitian community.
HT: Is there one story of success that stands out in particularly for one of the women?
JS: As you can imagine, there are many success stories. The overarching success is that the women have built their own businesses – with PeaceQuilts’ help to be sure – but in great measure through their own hard work and determination. Their businesses provide not just income for themselves and their families, but also bring new money into their communities. That’s a powerful source of pride and a force for economic development, even on this small scale. It hasn’t been easy. There have been many setbacks, not the least of which was the 2010 earthquake. And like the development of any business, there are many challenges and frustrations. But I’ve seen firsthand the blossoming of true artists in a place where most of the artists tend to be men. I’ve witnessed how PeaceQuilts’ training has aided the development of business skills critical for success, such as bookkeeping, inventory control and computer literacy. The women have developed the means to work through difficulties and be a generous resource for one another.
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