Why Haiti? In January 1998 we journeyed to the island of LaGonave (located in the Bay of Port au Prince) to help build a school in the mountain village of Matènwa. Our lives were changed by the extraordinary people we encountered. In the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere we found ourselves surrounded by laughter, song, prayers and generosity. In a land where unemployment was estimated to be 80% before the earthquake in January 2010 (and where many of those considered to be “employed” earn as little as $2 US dollars per day), it was a revelation to witness the joy that the Haitian people derive from the “simple things” in life: family, friends, community, and their extraordinary faith. Often people do not know where their next meal is coming from—yet amazingly they are willing to share the little they have. We left Haiti realizing that “the simple things” in life are what truly matter. Subsequent return trips drew us closer to the plight of the people; thus the seed was planted to give back all we could to a people who are so deserving of an opportunity to be self sufficient.
The first four industrial sewing machines were purchased in October 2009 but, due to the earthquake, they could not be shipped until April 2010. The school will initially be housed in FAMA’s Clinic. Electricity must be run from the road to the building, and then the building wired to accommodate voltage for the machinery. While the planning and organization of the school is being directed by our Company, it will be managed by Fernand Alexandre, a tailor from Montreal, who has now retired to his homeland.
Our ultimate goal is to provide jobs by first creating a skilled workforce capable of manufacturing a spectrum of products, both for use in Haiti (e.g. school uniforms), as well as items for export. Once this is established we will pursue commercial opportunities such as contract manufacturing. Our motive is not profit-driven, but to provide opportunities where none currently exist. Additionally we will work with local artists and artisans to provide a conduit to develop and share their talents via entrepreneurialism.
FAMA’s administrative work is done by volunteers and travel expenses are paid by individuals, thus uniquely allowing all donated money to go to directly to the cause. Your contribution to FAMA (a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization) is a gift toward sustainable empowerment for the people of Petite-Rivière. We hope you will consider becoming a member of FAMA’s family. Please visit www.fama-haiti.org