Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Redemption story: Trading shame for dignity

After my last meeting for the summer with the women of The Haitian Bead Project, God gave me a window into the world of one of our artisans. Rain dumped like it frequently does on summer afternoons in Northern Haiti. The rain gave me an excuse to do something I wanted to do all summer: offer Moise a ride home.

I knew Moise had been saving her jewelry money and started building a little house. I longed to see it. I knew she lived on the edge of town, and it would be a good hike in the rain. She gladly accepted the offer.
Ericlee, Moise and I piled into our pickup with our three girls in tow. Moise pointed and directed us down the main street, taking a right at the end of the block near the pile of rocks, past a church on the left and making a 10-point turnabout on the narrow road in front of her place. 


Moise introduced my family to her sweet family of four. Her husband is a teacher at the elementary school in Pignon next to our church. She has a little 2-year-old girl who danced when we pulled up in the truck and she saw her mama inside. Her son's eyes were wide with wonder.

My mama heart grieved as I climbed a little makeshift ladder to get up to the one room rental. The place was not fit for kids. There was a three-story drop down to the river from their porch/kitchen area with no fence, no wall. Moise explained to me how difficult this was for her, how often she worried for her kids' safety.

Down the street from her rental is the new house Moise and her husband are building (pictured above). As is typical in Haiti, they build little by little. They make some money here and buy more cement for blocks. They make a little more money there and continue with the next wall, the next room.

Moise beamed with pride as she pointed out where her kids' bedrooms would be. She anticipated her own kitchen. I thought about how this jewelry that she makes from recycled trash was turning her life into a treasure.

Moise's life is one that is transformed as a result of The Haitian Bead Project. When I first met her I noticed her sometimes-tattered clothes and how she asked me for food after our meetings.

Fast forward to today. Now I see a different woman. After spending the last week with her, I can trace how God is redeeming her life. This woman was once pressed to the outside of the group. The other women would pick fights with her or ignore her. Today she stands with dignity as one of the leaders of our cooperative. She is designing new products and helps with quality control. She commands a kind of respect because people see her talent. They know she can help.

On Friday, she accompanied me to our other Bead Project location in Savanette to encourage the women there. She has a new energy about her. We chatted on the truck ride home and dreamed together. She pitched the idea of throwing a big party in January for our artisans to celebrate God's blessings. We talked about designs for new products. She even practiced some of her English with Ericlee and me at the lunch table.

I have read that people living in poverty struggle most with their sense of self-worth. They have a hard time identifying their gifts and dreaming about the future. This is a poverty much graver than lack of food, water or shelter.

I see in Moise a woman who is breaking this cycle of poverty. I see a redemption story.

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