About Emily Betzler

Hi, I'm Emily Betzler. I'm a mother, wife, friend, and lover of life. I'm passionate about using my life and specifically my purchases/finances to make this world a more beautiful place.

Author Archive | Emily Betzler

Akola: “She Works”

Akola Blog Title

Akola: “She Works”

Meet one of our newest obsessions (and vendors), the Akola Project, empowering women in poverty to become agents of transformation in their families and communities through economic development.

Much of the population living in poverty is comprised of women, who are the primary providers for their families. There is a significant segment of this female population in countries of all stages of development that are stuck in poverty, unable to act as adequate providers, because they are marginalized by cultural, socioeconomic and gender inequalities.

Akola Project addresses the issue of poverty by empowering women who lack access to the training and economic opportunities that would allow them to rise in socioeconomic status.

The Akola Project model is uniquely designed to empower each woman economically and socially in order to allow her to take ownership of her own development and ultimately, change her view of herself. Over time, Akola’s team has found that the key to achieving sustainable poverty is to invest in multiple areas of women’s lives, not simply the economic. Akola’s programs are designed to replace the negative outcomes that result from patriarchal society, lack of
government assistance, lack of infrastructure in remote communities, and cyclical poverty with positive outcomes in three major areas: economic empowerment, social empowerment, and process empowerment.

International Headquarters: Jinja, Uganda

With international headquarters in Jinja, the majority of Akola’s production takes place in Uganda by women participating in vocational training, employment and holistic programming. Partnering with 7 rural communities in Northern and Eastern Uganda, Akola works in villages that are remote, functioning with barter economies. As women earn wages through their work at Akola, they are infusing capital into their village economies and empowering other local business owners by being reliable customers.

While part-time bead rollers earn an income that is nearly twice the Ugandan poverty level,

Akola’s full-time members earn up to five times the Ugandan poverty level.

This means that the average full-time member earns a salary that is equivalent to that of a Ugandan police officer or primary school teacher. Wow!

 Akola Uganda Strip

The Demi necklace is a perfect representation of the artisan work that goes into each rolled bead. Made with love in order to give hope, this necklace makes a bold statement. Shop the Demi necklace here.

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Domestic Headquarters: Dallas, TX

Along with global projects to fight poverty, the Akola Project has created a Contemporary Collection to be produced exclusively in Dallas by women associated with one of nine local nonprofits who are seeking dignified employment to provide for their families.
Many of the women that work for us have children and are the main or only caregiver. We pay a fair living wage, teach them a skill, and provide work hours when their kids are at school (9 to 2). Some bring the smaller children with them to work. We have elevated the level of product we make in Dallas to allow us to pay a fair living wage in the city.
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In the fall, we employed 20 women. This summer, that number is more than doubling as Akola products are now available at both Bought Beautifully and Neiman Marcus.

The Alexandria bracelet, one of Akola’s contemporary pieces made with love in Dallas, is one of our favorites for its bold, yet classic look. Shop the Alexandria bracelet here.

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The Akola Impact

Everyday, Akola artisans gather at vocational centers in order to assemble and create the pieces we purchase. When an Akola accessory reaches the hands of a customer in the U.S., 100% of the purchase is reinvested into Akola’s mission to empower women in poverty.

Every cent contributes to Akola’s social business that provides women with a dependable, living wage every month.

 

With her income, the Akola woman is able to provide healthy meals and clean drinking water for all of the children and elderly community members that she cares for. She no longer has to worry if her family will go hungry. She also earns enough to send her children to school, and access basic healthcare and a secure home.

Love knowing your purchases are supporting and empowering women both locally and globally? Shop more from Akola here.

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Real Women, Real Beauty, Real Impact

Real women. Real Beauty. Real Impact.

At Bought Beautifully, we believe in God’s amazing ability to create beautiful things.

This belief inspires all that we do, including how we design our photo shoots and the social media we share. It’s also one of the reasons we are so passionate about, and committed to featuring real, un-photoshopped women who embody real beauty.

Bought Beautifully’s Spring/Summer 2016 photo shoot was tangible of true beauty; people coming together to use their skills and gifts for a greater good!  Not only was it a celebration of beautiful women making beautiful impacts, but it was also a celebration of the beauty and strength of family as it brought together a few of the most influential women in my life: my mother, my grandmother, my sister, my cousin, and beautiful sisters in Christ. Three Real Beauties

These women might be natural beauties in their own right, but we know it is their INNER beauty that radiates outward, and that is what Bought Beautifully strives to celebrate and honor! So, I wanted to take a minute to introduce you all to the hearts behind these pretty faces, and pay tribute to the legacy of love that they are creating.

Rosemary Rusing - Real Beauty

Rosemary Rusing – My grandmother (94.5 years old). Yes, you read that right. She is turning 95 in October!  Mother to 5, grandmother to 22, and great-grandmother to 7, Rosie is smart, sassy, and thoughtful.  This woman has taught me countless important life lessons, but perhaps the thing that has left the biggest impression on me is how she continually and sacrificially cares for others – and has FUN while doing it.

Mom

Julie Ann Acklin – My mom. As a mother to 4 daughters and grandmother to 4 grand-darlings, this woman is pure gold with a spirit that is humble, selfless, hard working, creative and inspiring.

Brittany Real Beauty

Brittany Ann Winslow – My youngest sister ♥, who also happens to be a brilliant human rights activist, social worker, deep thinker, and BIG lover. This lady inspires me daily by her ability to see things from different perspectives, and her commitment to fight for life for all – from the children in our welfare systems, to those forgotten behind bars.

Real Beauty, Amanda

Amanda Bazzell – My dear cousin, and mother to 2.  She is a sincere and caring friend. She is open and honest, always striving for genuine and authentic relationships. This lady has a servant heart. From teaching special-ed, providing awesome life experiences to people with disabilities, to spending her days and nights caring for two little ones, this mighty woman constantly cares for others.

While the ladies in front of the camera radiate true beauty, the women behind the camera do so equally as well.

Carrie Zimmer and Sharon Carlson are the beautifully talented woman responsible for composing and capturing these faces.

While there is definite beauty in blood family like my sisters, Carrie demonstrates the beauty of the body of Christ coming together in love by using one of her many talents to capture the mission of Bought Beautifully through the lens of her camera. Thank you Zimmer Photography!

While Sharon, master curator of the antique pieces at One Hundred Chairs, has the magical ability to bring out the beauty in everything she touches.

From the beauty of the women captured on camera, to the beautiful impacts represented through the pieces adorning them, we are truly inspired by the hands and hearts that came together to make this shoot happen and thought you would be too!

xoxo,

Emily & Rebekah

 

 

 

 

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Live Out Love

Buy Beautifully | Live Out Love

We are regularly asked a similar set of questions about Bought Beautifully – what we do, why we do it, and how our faith/Christianity plays a role in it?

Over the last year, as we answered these questions, we discovered one simple line that helped us explain what we do and why:

#liveoutlove

Bought Beautifully exists to provide an alternative shopping experience, one that better aligns with our faith and allows us to use the financial blessings that God had given us for His glory and for the good of those He loves.

We are about more than just “fair trade” or “ethical” practices.

Our “niche” or calling is to partner with  people/entities who are living out Christ’s call to love through their work.

live out love

Discovering amazing people and organizations, and the unique ways that God has called them to love and serve a hurting world is the best part of our job!

Our partners are not necessarily evangelical or international or all focused on development type issues, but they are all living out God’s call to love through their work, which results in some pretty amazing and diverse IMPACTS:

 pathways out of poverty.

fighting human trafficking.

spiritual encouragement.

caring for widows and orphans.

health and educational.

sustainable development.

and more.

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We are reminded daily of the honor it is to partner with such incredible vendors, and the opportunity we have to further their efforts and join them as they #liveoutlove.

Every product we sell, and every purchase made is part of a global love story.

When you shop Bought Beautifully, you are part of the movement to #liveoutlove.

Shop here!

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Holiday Pop-Up Shops

‘Tis the season to shop BEAUTIFULLY!

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Bought Beautifully products are here for the holidays, and we’re coming to YOU!

Invite a friend, and join us for our holiday pop-up markets!

Denton, TX

November 6th – 8th | First United Methodist Church

Dallas, TX

November 12th |Park City Baptist Holiday Dinner

Sheridan, WY

November 21st | 10 am – 3 pm | Shall We Dance Ballroom

Boise, ID

December 5th | 10 am – 2 pm | District Coffee House

Prescott, AZ

December 12th | 2 pm – 6 pm | 5ive A Vintage Market

 

Can’t join us for one of these pop-ups?

Shop online now!

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Tuli. Changing lives, one necklace at a time

This week, we have the wonderful privilege of speaking with Megan Hoye,tuli+cover one of the co-founders of Tuli.

Tell us a bit about the history of Tuli?

It seems like Tuli is something I stumbled into, but in hindsight, I can see that it was all God. After I graduated college, I moved alone from Seattle to a sleepy coastal town in Florida to write for a small newspaper. I loved my job, but I felt restless. I started questioning my career choice, which was terrifying: If not journalism, then what?

At that time, my friend sent me some paper beaded jewelry from Uganda. I was struck by how women in Uganda found a way to turn something salvaged into something beautiful in an effort to earn money in unemployment-stricken Uganda. I knew buyers were few in Uganda – but what about in the U.S.?

I  connected with a Ugandan woman I’d met through a former volunteer position, Jane Nampijja, who became Tuli’s co-founder. We’d both worked with nonprofits before, and wanted to create something that didn’t rely on donations. After talking about sustainable solutions to poverty, we considered the current fashion market, and I reached out to some industry contacts I’d made years earlier, when I was modeling to pay for my college tuition.

After several months of work and countless disastrous attempts at designing jewelry, I flew to Uganda to meet Jane, and spent a month with her putting our business together. She and I met with the women who became our partners, and together, we came up with designs and a product line. Jane and I appointed some artisans as quality assurance coordinators as well. Ultimately, we want Tuli to be as much our partner artisans’ business as it is ours.

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What are some of the trials and triumphs you have faced in bringing Tuli to where it is today?

To be honest, Tuli has been a long series of trials – I think most business are – but, I’m happy to say that our greatest trials have in turn become our greatest triumphs. In the early days, we had a difficult time sourcing our materials. The key to our designs at Tuli is using high-quality chain in our products because we believe that’s the best way to compete with larger, factory-made brands. However, sourcing high-quality chain in Uganda isn’t easy, and we knew that without high-quality products, our sales would quickly falter.

At the time, it seemed as though that problem would wreck us. But then we found a supplier who agreed to work with us to provide the highest quality materials. Unfortunately, after the first problem was resolved, others quickly emerged. We couldn’t attract web traffic. Then, our website kept crashing. My camera was stolen, making  lifestyle photo-shoots impossible. And so on and so forth.

We’ve gotten over those hurdles only to find new ones. As we scale up, we’ve been facing the need to grow the company, and it’s both exciting and difficult. But Tuli has been through so much already that I know we’ve got a resilient team and concept. I trust that we’ll be able to make it through whatever comes our way.

rosetealBB Tuli Tuli_turq

How have you seen God actively move in the work Tuli is doing?

This fall will be Tuli’s one-year anniversary. It has been mind-blowing to see how far we have come.  The Tuli team has been working really hard, and we’re so far beyond where I thought we would be at this point. I’m grateful for that every day.

Pursuing Tuli was a huge leap of faith and act of trusting God for me. Not only was I considering a new business – leaving behind the career I’d worked toward for years, but I was also considering a move to Japan with my fiancé.  I was terrified at the time, but looking back now from my apartment outside of Tokyo, I see how taking those steps all came together to create a job that’s more satisfying than I ever could have imagined.

Tuli is a constant reminder for me to remain faithful.  What made no sense to me at the time makes perfect sense in hindsight. Every experience, even something as seemingly inconsequential as modeling, came together to form Tuli. Tuli is entirely indebted to God.

I don’t have a business background, and I’m the person orchestrating Tuli’s overall operations, so I need all the divine help I can get! I remember when I first started thinking about everything involved with starting a business like Tuli – from building a website to product design; from lifestyle photography to accounting. It all seemed so daunting, and I didn’t know how to do any of it. I also had no money to invest in hiring people who did. Somehow, one obstacle after another, each of those things have been provided for, through a combination of the right people coming along to help or the right resources coming along to teach me.

That’s not to say it wasn’t hard –  but a combination of the right circumstances and the right people made something that once looked impossible come to life.

I wasn’t at all equipped to start this business, but step by step, and through some amazing people, God provided the guidance to get me there. So, to be completely honest, the fact that Tuli even exists is both mind-blowing and a testament to God’s greatness. Everything else about Tuli, therefore, is the same testament.

As an organization what are you excited about right now?

We’re excited to watch Tuli grow! We’ve been able to increase our orders to Uganda, which increases our impact, and we’ll soon be adding new partner artisans! It’s so exciting to think about how much more our customers’ purchases will help people in the years to come. We’ve also been able to expand our team a bit lately, and I can’t wait to see how the organization improves as a result. As a bootstrapped startup, there have been things I’ve had to take the reins on (like design and advertising) that really aren’t my strengths. Having talented people in place for those roles will do huge things for Tuli and, as a result, for the impact we have in Uganda.

tuli-fair-trade-jewelry-marcia-red-websize-pngtuli-fair-trade-jewelry  tuli-fair-trade-earrings-marcia-purple-websize

We can’t wait to see what the future holds for you. What are some of your hopes and goals for 2015? The next three years?

All of our decisions at Tuli center on two interrelated things: growth and impact. We want to expand our sales, find better ways to serve our partners in Uganda and create meaningful change in their lives.

For the rest of 2015, we’re planning to launch a bridal line and train some more artisans to expand the Tuli team in Uganda. We’ve been selling more items than anticipated, which is great! But a negative effect of that is, since each item is handmade with a high focus on quality, we can only produce so many products per month with the women we work with now. I’m planning to go back to Uganda at the end of this year to bring some more women on the team and further expand our mission in Kampala.

Beyond that, we plan to grow. The more items we sell, the more income we can provide in Uganda. To do this, we hope to keep adding versatility to our line, get our products into more stores, and bring more people onto our team. I strongly believe that the stronger the team, the more powerful the organization.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

Bought Beautifully has been such a blessing to Tuli! We’ve loved getting to know the team and their hearts and learning from some incredible companies. I’m so grateful to your readers for supporting not just Tuli, but also the entire Bought Beautifully network of people and brands.

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Wow! Thanks Megan! Partnering with Tuli has been a blessing and encouragement for us!  We absolutely love your designs and the heart and women behind them.
You can support Tuli in their mission of fighting poverty in Uganda by purchasing their great products here. Every purchase employs a woman in dignified work!

 

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Gift Guide for a Fair Trade Father’s Day

This Father’s Day, celebrate dads with fair trade style!

Need a gift? Check out our top picks, making impacts both locally, and globally!

Celebrate dad with this stylish duo from Krochet Kids! Not only do these gifts have worldwide impact, but they can also be purchased locally if you live in Sheridan, downtown at Bighorn Design Studio!

KK Tie KK Hoodie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Want more variety in your Father’s Day gifts this year? Check out these picks from Bought Beautifully! Our handmade leather journal, and Mesos skateboard are actively changing the world with the love of Christ, and economic opportunity!

BB BLNKBB Leather Journal

Got Toms? These shoes are a great gift for any dad, and leave a positive mark on the world! When you purchase a pair of shoes from Toms, an additional pair is given to someone in need.

TOMS blue TOMS Canvas

Don’t forget about camping essentials this Father’s Day! These hammocks from SoCo give you the chance to kick back while you give back!

SOCO SOCO2

For more great gifts this Father’s Day, check out Bought Beautifully on pinterest:

 

 

 



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Everyday Justice

We’re back!
We had a refreshing and rejuvenating week fasting from social media.  The culmination of the week was observing Memorial Day by reflecting on, thinking of, and praying for all the brave individuals who have laid down their lives for our freedom.  Their sacrificial love, not unlike Jesus who laid down His life for us, is truly one of the greatest gifts of all.
This week we have been filled with deep gratitude for the freedoms and opportunities that we enjoy, though our hearts were hurting thinking of our brothers and sisters around the globe who aren’t able to experience similar freedoms and opportunities.  However, as we reflected and prayed on this, we didn’t feel despair, but rather with HOPE!
We thought of all the people who are working, fighting, and sacrificing daily to provide justice.  There are countless ways that people are being light in darkness, and taking God’s call to seek justice seriously!
Act Justly
The list of these modern-day justice warriors is long, and ranges from large organizations, like The International Justice Mission, Free the slaves, The International Rescue Committee, World Vision, The Justice Conference, Together Rising and more, to individuals like you – teachers, social workers, volunteers, health care providers, and people who strategically use their finances to support justice, and purchase products that enrich, empower and restore lives.

We don’t want forget to remember those who are currently working to bring justice to a fallen world in small and large ways.  So, for the next month we want to celebrate #everydayjustice.

Will you join us?  When you participate in, or see others doing everyday acts of justice, let us know! Take a picture and use the hashtag #everydayjustice.
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 We will be praying over all the photos that come in, sharing and re-posting them, and we might even surprise some justice fighters with Bought Beautifully products!
UPDATE – Check out our first photo: Missi with the Food Group, working to provide food for hungry children in the Sheridan community! Way to go Missi – We love seeing #everydayjustice in action.
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Motherly LOVE

Mother’s day is on the way…

What better gift to give the woman who gave you life than a gift that gives life?

Here are a few of our favorite Bought Beautifully products that we think would make great mother’s day gifts!  Bonus: each product has a tangible impact on the life of another woman.

Something trendy:

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This fabulous serving spoon set will add a little style to even the simplest meal  and purchasing it provides single mothers in impoverished communities training and job opportunities. Give this gift now!

 

 

 

 

Something Classy:

HPH Necklace

 

 

 

This beautiful gold necklace pairs perfectly with any outfit, and was hand made by Costa Rican women who have been empowered to rise above poverty. Give now.

 

 

 

 

 

Something Simple:

badala_druzy_earrings

 

 

 

 

 

These simple earrings from Badala add an understated pop of color, and enable women to rise out of poverty in Africa. Give this gift here.

 

 

 

 

Something to pamper:

RB Lip Butter

 

 

Rooted Beauty is empowering women around the world to escape extreme poverty and trafficking through innovative natural skin care. This lip butter comes in 3 flavors, and makes the perfect addition to your mother’s day gift! Shop now.

 

 

 

 

Something blue:

Badala Bowl

 

 

 

 

 

This colorful bowl from Badala was hand woven in Rwanda, and adds a pop of color to any kitchen! When you purchase this bowl, you give single mothers the ability to pay their living expenses, and send their children to school. Shop now.

 

 

 

Something for a hostess:

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Every hostess needs serving trays, these stacking banana leaf trays are great for indoor or outdoor use, and are creating sustainable development opportunities in Africa. Purchase this here.

 

 

 

 

Something Elegant:

Turquoise and Gold Hoops

 

 

These elegant earrings from Sasa Designs give a unique twist to the classic hoop – the perfect combination of gold, turquoise, and texture. Purchasing these earrings also supports the future of a deaf artisan in Kenya. Give now.

 

 

 

 

Something Unique:

Necklace and Earring Set

 

 

 

This necklace and earring set from Guardian Village Handicrafts makes for a perfect gift – unique in style and in story! GVH jewelry is handmade by a community of women in Nepal who have been taught a skill that will provide their families with sustainable income for the rest of their lives. Shop now.

 

 

Still looking for the perfect gift? Check out the Bought Beautifully site for hundreds more products!

And follow us on Pinterest to find more life-giving ideas:



 

 

 

 

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HAPI – Legacy of love and Lasting Impact

Happy Monday morning, dear friends! Today we have the awesome opportunity to share with you about HAPI, Haitian Artists for Peace International.  HAPI was one of the first members of the Bought Beautifully family, and is an inspiring organization with a depth and breadth of programs leaving a legacy of love and making lasting impact Haiti.

Settle in with a cup of tea as Valerie, co-founder of HAPI, shares her heart and HAPI’s story.

To start can you explain what HAPI is/does?

Haitian Artisans for Peace International (HAPI) is a faith-based community development ministry whose mission is to empower Haitians to grow their capacity to lead with integrity, to develop solutions to their own problems, and to help their families and communities to live to their fullest potential.

WOW! That is a broad and exciting mission! Can you tell us a bit about how HAPI came into existence? Include your personal journey/roll in the process.

HAPI’s story is one of surrender, obedience and faithfulness.

In the 1960s, two horrific hurricanes swept through southern Haiti bringing in its wake a major food shortage in the agricultural community of Mizak Haiti. A mother, responsible for 14 children, was overwhelmed with stress and she had a stroke. The family carried her in a hand-crafted chair more than 10 kilometers down rocky mountain trails to the nearest clinic. After six months of care, their money was exhausted and her condition had not improved.

Her youngest son, Paul, aged 15, and one of his sisters shared the responsibility of caring for their mother. Inevitably, the day came when Paul’s sister cried out, “Mama is dead!” Paul started pressing on her chest and calling her name. She opened her eyes and said, “Take care of your sister.” Now Paul had many sisters! So he pressed again, asking “Mama, which sister?” With her dying breath, she whispered “Eve.”

Paul was greatly distressed because he had no sister named Eve. What was his mother’s request of him?

Paul left his community and went to the city to find a way to live. Always, he searched for the HAPI staffmeaning of ‘Eve.’ He self-studied at a public library and, one day, he read the Bible. There he found Eve and he then understood that God has spoken through his mother to call him to a life of service to women, universal. All women were his ‘sisters.’…Paul would later become the co-founder of HAPI.

My walk began with a seed planted 25 years ago.

In 1989, I picked up the book, ‘Serpent and the Rainbow’ by anthropologist Wade Davis.  What captured me was the determination of the Haitian people in their pursuit of freedom. ‘Determination’ is a trait I greatly admire and it brought me back to that book several times until I began to sense that God had a message for me in Haiti.

I thirsted to meet these people who had proven, again and again, that the human spirit can be crushed but not broken, no matter how heavy the yoke under which they toil.

May 16, 1998—11 years after the seed was planted—I stepped onto the Port-au-Prince tarmac.  I visited sites where persons were martyred in their fight for independence and later for democracy. I went to historical monuments and I visited artisan markets. I built relationships. The experience was powerful.

I felt a peace descend upon me. I discerned that my message from God was a quest to answer “What is ‘help’?”

More importantly, what was ‘help’ from the perspective of those whom we profess to serve? Maybe it was more than any of my ‘prepackaged’ ideas of mission.

With the leading of the Spirit as my compass, I returned to Michigan and began to put my life in order to be able to live in Haiti. I moved into my parent’s basement. I was known for a strong streak of independence, so people would ask me “why?” And I would say, “I’m moving to Haiti.” The next questions would be “when, where, what?” To which I would reply, “I don’t know yet but I want to be prepared for when God opens that door.”

In New Years’ 2001, I wrote out my prayer request to God to serve in Haiti and, as I was from corporate America, I inserted a timeline of between June – September of that year.

I graduated Aquinas College in May and was on an airplane to Haiti at 5 am the next morning, staying at Walls’ Intl guest house. On the final evening of my stay, the elderly Canadian couple who ran Walls’ were waiting for me. They said, “We’ve been watching you the last few weeks and how you interact with the Haitians and we were wondering if you would come back and help us to manage the guest house.” I moved to Haiti 3 weeks later, in June 2001. God was right on schedule!

I continued on from the guest house to be a teacher for Haitian high school students who were of the middle and upper economic class. I’m not a certified teacher, but I was encouraged to visit the American director. After knocking on her door, she asked me two faith questions and then said, “I was  sitting here praying over my teacher roster. I have one opening left and I asked God to send me a teacher; you knocked at the door. You must be the teacher that God sent.”

During this time, I received an email from a woman whom I’ve never met who told me that if I didn’t get out of Port-au-Prince then I would not know the ‘real’ Haiti.  “Do you want to know Haiti? Go to the mountains!” This woman suggested I find Paul Prevost and visit the work he was doing with women in rural Haiti.

I asked my co-worker at the guest house, “Do you know Paul Prevost?” She said, “Do you remember that man who was in here last week with the scar running down his cheek? That was Paul. He’ll be back. He markets the sisal angles that we sell in the gift shop.”

The next time Paul stopped in for payment, I invited myself to the incredible mountain of Musac de LaVallee. I met with a group of excited Haitian women producing sisal angels for a small fee.

HAPI-angel

I asked the women what they most enjoyed about their work, expecting to hear “the paycheck.” Instead, the first thing they said was that they were receiving respect from their husbands, children and community because they were able to educate their children and help their neighbors. They spoke about feeling safe and how they were able to “forget their troubles” as they laughed and shared their burdens within this community of women. They were happy.

Afterwards, I walked out into the road and I saw a line of people forming. I asked my host and HAPI co-founder, Paul Prevost, “Why are people standing in line?”

He replied, “That is a free food line.” Then Paul added, “The missionaries want us to live; we want to grow.”

In that simple but profound truth, God spoke through his humble servant, Paul, and I had my epiphany to my quest of “what is help!”

Mercy (helping people to live) cannot exist in the absence of justice (helping people to grow).

‘Pity’ is not mercy. God’s mercy affirms human dignity and does not reduce the recipients to objects of charity to be provided for; it lifts them! Mercy and justice joined together keep us from sliding into harmful charity that feeds our own emotional needs.

How do we avoid falling into the trap of providing harmful charity?

Haitians need respect. They need to be equipped and empowered. They need us to accompany them, not solve their problems for them.

Part of my personal mission and the ministry of HAPI is to listen to how people in Haiti, particularly women, define ‘help’ and then to accompany and empower them to be able to fulfill their God-given potential.

‘Help’ for women in Mizak meant economic empowerment and work in a safe environment.

However, I was slooooww to act upon this epiphany!

I returned to the US in 2003.  One day, as I closed a presentation with a story about my time in Haiti, a woman, a pastor, said to me: “If you believe in this so much why don’t you go back and re-open that artisan cooperative?!” I was stunned into recognizing that while I had discerned God’s lesson to me on ‘what is help,” that I had neglected to act upon it!

After that ‘burning bush’ moment, I returned to the mountain and met with Paul and several of the women I had met 5 years earlier. The skill common to women of this community was ‘embroidery.’ We decided to help the women use that asset to create a marketable product, beginning with our flagship product, HAPI cards.

HAPI-Girls HAPI-flower HAPI-chickencard

What are some of the trials and triumphs you have faced in bringing your organization to where it is today?

​ I could write a book! :) Investing in the long-term relationship of community development versus a 7 day mission experience is like the difference between a first date and celebrating your 50th wedding anniversary!
In researching other artisan groups, I realize that we chose “the road less traveled.” Many artisan groups are formed around one or more artisans who are already skilled at producing a marketable product typical of the culture or country. Instead, we began at the grassroots with women who knew how to stitch. They did not have a product. They knew nothing about basic shapes, the color wheel, or quality control. Two had a high school education while others had little or no formal education. Under the best of circumstances, with skilled local craftsman, fair trade artisan crafts from a mountain in Haiti would be a challenge. For HAPI, it was straight uphill!
Accessibility to raw materials and market is a significant obstacle. The cost of transportation alone makes it difficult to consider marketing in the city. Quality control was a major issue in which we’ve made great strides! There were many times when opening the box was like opening a box of crackerjacks and looking for the surprise inside: incorrect quantities, substitutions of materials, poor color choices, crude workmanship. We’ve seen it all!
Financial management is another skill which has progressed but it is a challenge to work in a country with oral tradition, low literacy and no established business practices to implement income and expense tracking concepts.  Many things that  Americans may consider as ‘common sense’ are not innate but are learned in our environment. A different common sense develops in a culture that must think of daily needs and faces scarcity of resources.

Can you share with us some of the ways you have seen God provide for/care for/ and move through HAPI?

HAPI has evolved into children’s ministry, health and ESL / computer education.  In the process, we raised funds for and built a pavilion inside a walled park, a 2 story 7000 square foot center, and a 1900 square foot health center (all since 2010!).  The growth has been amazing and exhausting, pushing our capacity to the limit! Many blessings occurred along the way. First, the jobs created helped people to repair their own home or send their children to school. We modeled our principles for empowerment of women and hired them to work alongside the men! That was a first for the community to see women on a construction site and provided our in-country director a platform in which to speak with community members about valuing the work of women and that they also need good jobs.
HAPI-ESL-computer-classes
Yolande Zephir started as an artisan. Her workmanship was always meticulous. She had a warm, caring personality. After the 2008 hurricanes, we decided we needed a community health worker. We chose Yolande and began training her in health basics. She continued on to attend local nursing classes. She coordinated a malnutrition intervention program with children, trained families to use water filters, and now is leading our ‘Start Right’ maternity care educational programming. The mothers and babies do so well under her loving attention! She prays for them, counsels, educates…and the women feel cared for and they then take care of themselves and their infants. Last December, she graduated from her nursing classes, similar to an LPN. We are incredibly proud of Yolande!
HAPI-mom-baby
​The stories as I’ve shared above both in the formation of HAPI and in the transformation of individuals that ripple into their families and community are embodiment of the Creator. We are made in God’s image. Therefore, we are all co-creators with God to bring forth transformation that brings him glory.
Also, I marvel at the connectivity. How the Spirit brings people together. I look around my board of directors, volunteers, groups such as Bought Beautifully and I see God’s hand. I could not have done any of this!! ​This is the story of ‘stone soup.’ HAPI started as ‘stone soup.’ It seemed as if we had nothing but everyone came and added to the pot.

As an organization what excited about right now?

​So much!!! The opening of our new Felisane health center with the emphasis on maternal care and delivery. We hired an awesome new OB nurse and she is also going to train midwifery.
We love the artisans but we want a different future for their daughters and granddaughters. We started an intensive ESL / computer class for high school graduates, very small for our pilot: 4 young women and 1 man. We want to build upon this and eventually offer a 2 year business degree with at least 50% women. We are also starting basic literacy with our micro-loan clients  and offering computer classes to those without a high school degree. We are researching the possibility of a ‘training center’ for the traditional Haitian metal art on weekends. Lots happening!​
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Give Life

We are so thankful for the Easter season, and the time we get every spring rejoicing in what the Lord has given us!

Our hearts are full of gratitude for the lives we have been given, and the hope we have for a beautiful future.

Out of gratitude for that hope, we are envisioning a different type of Easter morning, one where every gift found in our basket tells a story of life, opportunity and love.

 

 EasterGiftGuide2

Here are a few of our favorite Bought Beautifully products – all under $25!

 

Baskets by 2nd Story Goods  $6-24  2ndStoryGoodsbassquare

 

 

Tulicoral2Joy Paper Bead Bracelet by Tuli  $24

 

 

Socks by Threaded Cross $14threadedcross-argylesock

 

 

Sasapearl_bracelet Pearl Wrap by Sasa Designs by Deaf  $20

Headband by Threads of Hope $15    Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

 

AmahoropurpleclutchAmahoro Burundi Clutch $18

 

 

CzechGlassEarringPambaCzech Glass Earrings by Pamba Toto $16

 

Fearfully Made by Scripture Printables  $4.99fearfully_made_2

 

SoleHopeShoes2 Sole Hope Baby Booties  $24

 

 

Beaded Necklace by Rahab’s Rope $24Rahab'sbead_neckalce_2_

 

 

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset   Handmade Cards By HAPI  $10

 

 

Confetti Necklace by Jewels for Schools $20 Jewels4SchoolsLongConfetti

 

stonepink  Stone Earrings by Haiti’s Jewels $12

 

Fields of Hope Body Scrub $12 Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

 

 

Many Hearts Print by Pamba Toto $25 Pambaheart_painting

This picture is comprised of hearts painted by The Sanctuary of Hope family  – 24 former orphans who originated from E. Africa’s second largest slum. If that doesn’t melt your heart I don’t know what will!

 

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Hand painted Ukrainian Egg by Marfa Ministry $50

MarfaEgg MarfaEgg_Bag

-This one isn’t under $25 but it is such a timely and beautiful product we wanted to make mention it. These Eggs are from one of Bought Beautifully’s newest vendors, Marfa Ministry.  They seek to support churches around the world that are struggling to be self-sufficient by taking mission teams to the sites and by the sale of items donated by the Eurasian churches.

 

Thank you for shopping Beautifully! God’s love is being shared around the world because of your purchases!

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