This Christmas (2015), we did our first initiative to create an opportunity for sponsors to give gifts to sponsored students. In the brainstorming stages, all kinds of ideas were thrown out. The question, “How are we going to handle shipping?”, came up.
And then, we took a risk. We did something different, and it meant that you – the sponsors in America – didn’t get to do the fun, heart-warming task of shopping and hand-picking gifts for sponsored students. Instead, you would have to do the more boring “Click Here!” as you gave money for us to put together a Christmas Pack here.
I want to say thank you for showing up when we took a risk.
I’m sure it was not as exciting on your end – but it was so exciting to feel heard and then get to run with an idea that empowered local merchants.
It was exciting for a 49-year-old father in Archaiae who sells locks, nails, and bookbags to realize that we did not want one….we did not want ten….we wanted over twenty bags from him. He excitedly told us about the children he supports and raises with his wife at home – a wife he promised to greet for us. One of his sons is in university – and he is so proud of him.
It was exciting for a woman who lugged all of her merchandise to Cabaret market on Saturday morning. Loading up early in the morning, she sat in the heat all day swapping stories with the merchant next to her as she watched customer after customer go by. Another day with no sales….despite the work she had to put it to get to market and sit through it. We stopped to ask how much a Bible cost and this sweet mother was happy to show off her selections as well as be helpful in going through prices. When we looked up to realize she also sold bookbags and would be the one to sell us our next 20 – I wish you could have seen her. Most of the bags were bought from her, but her neighbor that she sat through the heat of market with through the day was able to get some business as well! This merchant continues to greet us with a big smile whenever we pass her in Cabaret. We asked her later if her husband was shocked at how much she sold in one sale – she laughed and told us all about it! Her family was supported, fed, and taken care of as she was able to sell in market.
Dozens of merchants sold to us: toothpaste, hair barrettes, perfumes for teenagers, blow up toys for younger children. We asked the Holy Spirit to lead us and we would run into people all over. Fathers taking care of their children while also selling their products to us, women who were quiet and not as excited – but we are confident that they were part of the story and needed the business. There were women juggling more than we could ever handle ourselves who joked with us as we laughed through our lack of skill in transferring their goods to our own arms to carry.
There were merchants who helped us to find others, and there were neighbors from Bercy who would run into us in market and tell us that what YOU guys were doing by choosing to buy from Haiti was a “bon bagay!” – a good thing!
We have heard stories of all kinds where creative, hard-working, entrepreneurial spirits are accidentally undermined by an influx of materials from overseas that makes what they are selling locally irrelevant. We are so thankful that you chose to take a risk and do something different with us this year with the sponsorship program! Thank you!