Port-au-Prince is a constantly moving, intriguing and mysterious place. The moment you think you have something figured out you hit a pot hole (literally) and are bounced along into a new site or experience you would have never seen coming. I am currently suffering a little Haitian malaise so bear with me as I attempt to elaborate on my experiences through my delirium.
Our vests have been cut, sewn, labeled and pressed with care. We have bore witness to their growth as we purchased them, alongside our trusty friend Perez, at the Pepe markets, helped rip apart the old clothing-very satisfying I might add-and been part of the process of matching jackets with shirts. We have sorted buttons, made cookies for the factory and stood in awe of the beautiful songs the men and women sing in the afternoon. I would love to know that part of my workday included harmonious vibes shared. We have also taken steps back and watched with wonder and amazement how quickly the tailors have adhered to our aesthetic. There is not one vest that has been created either with or without our input that we do not absolutely adore.
I think we may both go withdrawal and anxiety when we begin to let our vests go. They are our heartland. With them they hold our ties to Haiti, the wonderful people we have met, the conversations had, and the ridiculous personal and professional growth we have both gone through. It is such an overwhelmingly positive feeling to know that the tailors working with us want this project to succeed, that they take joy in making the vests and problem shooting with us when it looks like that one jacket may just not work, we always find an extra piece snuggled away somewhere to finish the garment. I honestly cannot do justice to the experience. I cannot begin to tell the stories of all those we have worked with. From ‘mademoiselle’ who brings us the best coffee each morning with a smile on her face that could melt your heart. We speak no Kreyol and she no French so our communication is mostly through hand motions, giggles and MERCI MERCI MERCIS. I would have it no other way.
Hans is working with us to make sure that we can pay the wages we believe should be paid to those working on our
project. We know that this alone does not solve the problem of inequality in the fashion factory industry but is a start. And it speaks volumes that Hans will have these conversations with us. He is working tirelessly with INDEPCO to achieve better training programs, and more contracts for all 600 micro-sewing companies through out Haiti that are part of the INDEPCO team. It is no easy task.
It’s just funny where life will take you. If you had of asked me as a little girl, or even 2 years ago, if I would ever picture myself sitting in the dark in P-a-P with a fan blowing to cool my feverish skin writing about my experiences-both the UPS and the downs-I would have never believed it. I wouldn’t change a moment of this crazy ride for anything. My heart is sad to leave, but I know Sway and I will return. Haiti has done more for us than we could ever hope to return in favour.