Fostering Creativity in Haitian Artisans by jib24063


									                                                                                                            S U M M ER            2008

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Creativity in
Haitian Artisans
I have always been a great
admirer of Haitian drum
art, so it was a privilege to meet highly
skilled, creative artisans and to see the
process of converting used industrial drums
into metal sculpture. The 55-gallon drums
are stuffed with straw which is burned to
remove residue. The metal is flattened, a
design is chalked on, and the piece is cut and
hammered into whimsical, uniquely Haitian
recycled art. The resourcefulness of artisans in
a country in which 80% of the people live on
less than $2 a day is an inspiration to me.
     —Cheryl Musch
       Director of International Development

                                                   Hand-in-hand with our partner Comite Artisanal Haitien (CAH), SERRV has supported
                                                   artisans in the often troubled country of Haiti for the past thirty years. SERRV believes
                                                   in long-term commitments, and our lasting relationship with CAH demonstrates
                                                   resilience in working in the least developed country in the Americas.
                                                   CAH is a portrait of perseverance and success in difficult conditions. As a result of
                                                   decades of political turmoil, deforestation, and natural disasters, Haiti is fraught
                                                   with poverty and hunger. CAH has not only survived Haiti’s difficult times, but has
                                                   flourished, selling cut metal art, stone carvings, baskets, and more. With healthy markets
                                                   in the Caribbean and the U.S., CAH gives work to 180 individuals and artisan groups
                                                   throughout the country.
                                                   Much of CAH’s longevity and success is a result of the hard work of Gisele Fleurant,
                                                   CAH’s Executive Director. Recently, Cheryl Musch, SERRV Director of International
                                                   Development, went to Haiti to meet with Gisele to explore how we can best work with
                                                   CAH in the future. Because of ongoing unrest, SERRV staff have been unable to visit
                                                   Haiti for many years, so this visit was particularly important because of the close bond
                                                   between CAH and SERRV.                                              (continued on page 2)
                                         (continued from page 1)
                                                                                        Indian Artisans Inspire Board
                                         Cheryl met Jean-Marie Colin, a CAH
                                         artisan with a workshop that makes several
                                         products for SERRV. Approaching his
                                                                                        SERRV Board members Sally Keller and Pushpika
                                         workshop, the hammering of artisans
                                                                                        Freitas found fresh inspiration on their trip this past
                                         transforming recycled 55-gallon drums
                                                                                        March to Mumbai, India, where they connected with
                                         into cut metal sculptures grows louder.
                                                                                        small-scale artisans. Both members have in-depth
                                         Half a dozen men sit under a sheet of
                                                                                        experience and passion for making a difference
                                         plastic held by poles as a roof. They flatten
                                                                                        through fair trade. Sally is owner and operator of
                                         the metal and cut the designs.
                                                                                        Global Village Gifts in Logan, Utah, and Pushpika
                                         Haitian drum art is a marvelous and            is co-founder of MarketPlace: Handwork of India,
                                         unique expression of Haitian creativity.       a nonprofit organization working with low-income
                                         There are no other hand-crafted                families in Mumbai.
                                         products in the world like it. The artisans
                                         incorporate themes familiar to them-           Their visit to artisan groups was an amazing
                                         island life, sea life, and religion.           journey with welcoming ceremonies, Rongoli floor
Jean-Marie’s parents were not wealthy, so he needed to drop out of school and start     paintings, winding alleys through slums, speeding
work early in life. He was trained in jewelry making, but later took up metal work      auto rickshaws, playing games in Hindi, and meeting
because he could earn more money. He has basic literacy skills thanks to a CAH          remarkable people who overcome challenges of
literacy program. Because he has work, his children have been able to remain in         every day life. Lasting impressions were left by
school. Like many parents he says, “I want my children to have what I didn’t have,      the warehouse manager who is illiterate but who
so they’re in school.”                                                                  has memorized shipping codes and packaging
                                                                                        instructions for dozens of products for customers; the
It’s important to Jean-Marie that SERRV supporters appreciate his life and his
                                                                                        artisans who embroider beautiful products in dark,
work. “I want them to know who I am and the reality of my life, and that this is my
                                                                                        cramped spaces; and families that have access to
way of making a living.”
                                                                                        water via a communal tap only certain hours a day.
Income from employment is a direct impact SERRV has on artisans and farmers.
It enables them to buy food and feed their families. Beyond income, SERRV aims          The visit culminated on International Women’s Day,
to help artisans help themselves by developing their own ability to determine what      a worldwide celebration of women widely honored
they want and need.                                                                     in India. At ceremonies that Pushpika and Sally
Sometimes our work empowers                                                             attended, women that participated stood tall, proud
artisans in ways we do not anticipate.                                                  of themselves and their work. Sally was struck by
For example, in the past, CAH was                                                       the strength of the women and her eyes brimmed
the only organization working with                                                      with tears as she described that day; “the energy of
artisans in Haiti who paid 50% of the                                                   these women who were empowered by work… could
value of an order before they started                                                   barely be contained in the room.”
production. This monetary advance
allowed the artisans to buy raw
materials and to make the products.
The experience empowered them to
ask all of their buyers for an advance
payment. Now the artisans will not fill
an order without it, and the advance
serves as insurance with the buyer.
CAH’s Director Gisele Fleurant says,
“This is a direct outcome of buyers like SERRV paying CAH an advance. Without
it, CAH would not have been able to operate this way, and it is likely that the
artisans would not be able to produce because of a lack of working capital. This is a
way that SERRV... [has] directly changed artisans’ lives.”
Ecuador and Peru:
A Visit with Our Partners
                                                        Responding to Uncertain Times
SERRV Director of Product Development Jean              in Kenya
Johnson visited two partners, MCCH and Camari           The people of Kenya had their lives and country turned upside down following
in Ecuador before traveling to Peru where Product       post-election violence earlier this year. The unrest left a devastating wake,
Development Coordinator Matt Johnson joined             including hundreds of thousands of displaced people still living in camps, many
her in visiting our five partners there. Many of our     who lost loved ones, and considerable damage to homes and businesses. The
Peruvian partners work with artisan groups living       economic impact has been severe and far-reaching, leaving people throughout
in barrios outside of Lima. These neighborhoods         Kenya without ways to make a living while costs of basic needs rise.
are populated by people who fled the Peruvian
highlands during the political violence of the 1980s.   Getting people back to work and earning
Making handcrafts helps these artisans maintain         income is a vital part of the reconstruction
a sense of community and culture, and a link with       process. Artisans who are dependent on
their home communities.                                 sales to tourists have been particularly hurt
                                                        by loss of work since this major facet of
                                                        Kenya’s economy has come to an abrupt
Nepal:                                                  halt. Hubert Seifert, director of our partner
What a Camera Can Mean                                  Bombolulu Workshop’s parent organization,
Get Paper was ready to make a CD catalog for            explains how their artisans have been
marketing their products, but did not have a digital    affected, “The impact on our Bombolulu
camera to photograph the products. When we              project with 190 mostly disabled employees
emailed and said we would send a camera to them,        and casual workers is devastating since
they responded, “I am so glad to receive your mail      there are hardly any tourists to buy the
about the digital camera. We are looking forward        crafts made by them...In January sales
for it, as it is not a material support but a very      dropped by 90% compared to the previous
strong value support. This will drive our spirit to     year.”
adopt Fair Trade Philosophy to the best extent with     In response, SERRV has been working
all our enthusiasm. We have no words to express         with our partners in Kenya to help in their
our sincere thanks for your support.”                   recovery efforts by providing artisans with work at this critical time. Our efforts
                                                        include promoting products from Kenya in order to boost sales and providing
                                                        special grants to our partners like Bombolulu.
Grant for Tools and Equipment                           Although there has been a temporary calm in the violence, Joseph Muchina,
Sometimes small investments in artisan groups           director of Trinity Jewellry, says the future is uncertain. Ongoing donations from
can go a long way in improving quality and              SERRV supporters and fundraising campaigns will allow us to respond with
productivity for small-scale producers. Our partner     additional funds during the year to aid in rebuilding efforts.
Sasha conducted a needs assessment with craft
groups with whom they work and identified four
groups with specific critical needs for tools and
equipment. SERRV was pleased to grant funds             The work you’ve read about in these pages is supported in four important ways...
for these high-impact, moderate-cost projects
which will supply each group with needed tools.
                                                         1 Buy          handcrafts and foods from our catalog, website, and
                                                                        store partners
The grant provides one group of women with 2
sewing machines; another with 2 double lock stitch       2 Donate            to support important behind-the-scenes training, grants,
                                                                        and design assistance for our international partners
machines; metal workers with files and molds; and
an embroidery group with a storage cabinet for raw       3 Lend          a portion of your savings to help provide pre-production
materials and finished products.                                         advances to artisans and farmers *
                                                        4 Host           A Greater Gift Sale in your community or sell our products
                                                                        in your store

                                                        To contribute in one or more of these ways, visit us at for more details.
                                                        * Investments in our Loan Fund are only offered by prospectus and available in those states where allowed by
                                                        law. Please contact us for more information.
Products with meaning and stores with ethical                                         Awarded eBay Grant for New
values continue to grow in number and popularity. In Rockford, Illinois,              Artisan Portal
Just Goods is a recent addition to the variety of stores across the country that
carry handcrafts and food sold by SERRV. The first store of its kind in the area       The eBay Foundation recently
and an active part of revitalizing the downtown, Just Goods is a nonprofit retail      awarded SERRV a $53,500
organization and an outgrowth of                                                      grant for a new web site
the Rockford Urban Ministries.                                                        aimed at providing resources
Volunteers spent countless hours                                                      to our artisan partners.
renovating the current retail                                                         The online information
space, and now staff the store. All                                                    clearinghouse will be an
proceeds go back to supporting                                                        innovative web site that provides artisans with
the local neighborhood as well as                                                     access to tools they need to be successful in the
to the artisans and farmers.                                                          global marketplace. It will share market trends and
SERRV worked with store                                                               sales data, video training and practical solutions to
manager Dori Kearney to stock                                                         common artisan problems. The web site will also
the store and share knowledge                                                         feature discussion groups to foster peer-to-peer
about the marketplace. CEO Bob                                                        information sharing.
Chase has served as a speaker at events Just Goods holds in their space (which        “We are delighted to be partnering with SERRV
adjoins a local art gallery). SERRV staff have also visited the store to swap ideas.   International in their efforts to utilize web-based
“SERRV has been very helpful and interested in our type of store model as well as     technologies to empower artisans around the
other noncorporate store models,” Dori says. “It’s been wonderful to share ideas      world,” said Irene Wong, executive director and
and knowledge with SERRV.”                                                            CEO of the eBay Foundation. Since its inception,
                                                                                      the eBay Foundation has contributed more than
                                                                                      $8 million to nonprofit organizations.
                                                                                      “Access to trend information and marketing tools is
                                                                                      essential for artisans building their skills and taking
SERRV INTERNATIONAL                                            NONPROFIT              control of their lives,” said Cheryl Musch, project
                                                               ORGANIZATION           leader for the web site initiative and Director of
PO Box 365
                                                               U.S. POSTAGE
500 Main Street                                                                       International Development at SERRV. “This is a
New Windsor, MD 21776                                          NEW WINDSOR MD         tremendous opportunity to have an impact.”
                                                               PERMIT NO.874
                                                                                      A testing version of the site is expected to be online
                                                                                      this fall.

                                                                                      [ ]
                                                                                                O U R        M I S SION
                                                                                              is to promote the social
                                                                                              and economic progress
                                                                                              of people in developing
                                                                                              regions of the world by
                                                                                             marketing their products
                                                                                            in a just and direct manner.



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