This post — and likely a number of the posts you’ll read on my blog later this week — are a bit of a departure from the normal PR and social media topics I cover. But, I have a once in a lifetime opportunity and I want to share the experience with you. I hope you’ll indulge me.
After the Haiti earthquakes, millions of people donated to disaster relief funds, which provided necessary, immediate assistance. However, Willa Shalit, the founder of Fair Winds Trading, recognized the need to establish sustainable income in the devastated country. She launched Heart of Haiti – a program that now employs 450 Haitian artists who make home décor and art, in turn exclusively sold at Macy’s. Thus far, this program has provided financial benefits to an estimated 4000-5000 people in the country.
Why am I telling you this? Later this week, I will be traveling to Haiti as part of a blogger outreach tour. We will tour Port-au-Prince and some of the surrounding areas to get a feel for the current conditions in Haiti and a glimpse into day-to-day life. Plus, we’ll get to meet the Heart of Haiti artisans. Personally, I am beyond excited to connect with these amazing people who turned to art to overcome devistation and provide financial support for their families and communities.
Truth be told, the closer we get to the trip, the more nervous I get. I’ve never been to a third-world country, nor have I ever seen devastation like what I imagine we’ll see in Haiti. (If you’ve ever experienced anything like this, please share your advice in the comments!) But, I have no doubt this will be an incredible experience and I can’t wait to share photos, tweets and blog posts documenting the experience. (Fingers crossed we have some reliable Internet access!) My goal is to shine light on the amazing, courageous people behind Heart of Haiti and hopefully inspire you in the process. If you have specific questions about the Heart of Haiti program, leave them in the comments or shoot me an email and I’ll do my best to get the answers for you.
A huge thank-you to the team at Incept, who is sponsoring my visit to Haiti. Their commitment to giving — and specifically to Haiti relief efforts — is remarkable and I’m so grateful to have their support. If you’re not familiar with Incept, connect with them on their blog, via Twitter or “like” them on Facebook. This trip wouldn’t be possible without Everywhere (the agency organizing the tour), especially Danica Kombol. And lastly, a thanks to my friend Sarah Evans for her words of encouragement and support!