Employ 100 Rural Women: Create a sustainable Haiti

by Haiti Projects, Inc.

It's impossible to underestimate the importance of a formal job in Haiti, where unemployment and underemployment rates are around 40%. The peace of mind knowing that you will have a steady, reliable income each month so you can support your family is invaluable. Haiti Projects (HP) is able to provide over 100 woman this opportunity through our artisan workshop and other projects in Fond des Blancs.What is even more encouraging is when women earn an income they invest 90% back into their families as opposed to men who invest somewhere around 35%.

While providing employment is great HP doesn't just stop there. In collaboration with our partners HP employees regularly benefit from training, education and additional perks. For example, this past week HP received 2,000 tree saplings to help prepare apiaries for our female beekeeping project. There were enough to offer all of our employees a few trees to take home and plant in their own yards.  Before receiveing thier mango and moringa trees they listened to a short talk about the unknown benefits of the moringa tree and how best to plant the saplings.  It's important to protect the  saplings from young goats as baby trees are one of their favorite snacks. Many of our employees recently received goats, another perk to employment with HP, to aid in the recovery after hurricane Matthew.

Pad Distribution
Pad Distribution


Haiti Projects is a woman-focused organization.  Our mission, our leadership and our activities are all concentrated on empowering Haitian women through various methods including health care.  We have been operating a successful family planning clinic for 22 years.  When an opportunity arose to expand on our women’s health initiatives with the Mahila Partnership we felt the timing was right.  Mahila’s expertise is addressing hygiene needs in post disaster situations.  Often times this takes the form of distributing hygiene kits, which are tailored to women so sanitary pads are a key component.  Haiti Projects had already been thinking about a project to sew reusable sanitary pads in our artisan workshop so this was the perfect first project for our partnership.

Our plan was to design the sanitary pads and have the sewers in our artisan workshop produce them.  Our clinic staff would then distribute the pads to our clinic’s network with an accompanying education curriculum.  Reusable pads will be more cost efffective and safer than what many women typically use during menstruation.  We created a pre and post survey to evaluate whether people liked the pads and if they had learned anything from the education. 

Our country director researched different styles and materials for reusable sanitary pads sold in the US.  We ordered some fleece and got started on our first round of pads.  We thought about having our employees try out the initial design because we knew they would give us honest feedback but you can’t just go home, try them and come back with results the next day.  You could end up waiting a month before the opportunity to use them arises.  We decided we would just go ahead and test them out at out mobile clinic posts.  Our clinic staff explained the project, filled out the surveys and presented the education to two groups of about 25 women.  They went back two months later for the follow up surveys and evaluation.  One after another, the women said “they are great”, “I will use them next month”, “there is nothing I would change about them”.   We thought this was fantastic.  What luck that we got the perfect design on the first attempt.   We put in an order for 500 more pads to scale up the project.   

It was another two months before we did the evaluation on the third group of women who used the pads.  This time we got responses like “I like the idea but I wouldn’t use these again”, “they were comfortable but leaked”, “they are nice when I am at home but I wouldn’t want to go out with them”.   If the pads were perfect, as we were told earlier, why didn’t these women like them?  It turns out the pads were not perfect.  The first two groups of women were basically just telling us what we wanted to hear and the pads actually leaked.  Thankfully the third group of women gave us their honest opinions so we were able to improve the pads with slight modifications.

Going into the project we knew we needed a formal evaluation process for the pads and we knew we should test them in more than one location but despite these efforts we still got false feedback.  Our failure did however turn out to be a good learning opportunity.  We learned sometimes you should try things out yourself to make sure it’s right, even if it will take longer to get results.  We also learned how important it is to continue evaluating.  If we had stopped with our surveys after the first two groups tried the pads we never would have discovered they didn’t work properly.  Luckily we were able to disassemble the 500 faulty pads and use the parts for the new design.

P.S.  We have increased pad production to aid in the response to hurricane Matthew.  You can help out with a donation to subsidize pads for those in need.

Reusable sanitary pads
Reusable sanitary pads


Hurricane Matthew
Hurricane Matthew's Impact on Families

October 5, 2016

Dear Friends and Supporters,

As you know, Haiti Projects' operations in the south of Haiti, in Fond des Blancs, were hit by Hurricane Matthew, a category 4 storm.  

We are working to reach all of our employees.  Because of fallen trees and the loss of a cell company signal, communication has been hindered and so we are walking to homes.  Many of our employees have suffered damage to homes, loss of goats and chickens, and crops.  We have no reports of lives lost, and for this news we are very thankful. 

Our clinic and our artisan workshop experienced some minor flooding.  The cyber cafe is intact.  However, the library took a major hit, losing parts of the roof (see photo below).  Many books are damaged or destroyed.  We have no report on the bees just yet. 

For the community at large, the greatest threat is the lack of clean water.  The spring that provides clean water was compromised by flood waters.  Also, the south is now cut off from Port-au-Prince because the bridge in Ti Goave crumbled.  Our ability to receive clean water and supplies will be problematic.  

Our goal is to keep women together and busy working on orders starting next week. By gathering together at the Artisanat and Clinic, we will have a central place to distribute water, food, tarps, etc.  And, the women will be able to share experiences, charge cell phones, and work together with us to plan the rebuilding.  

The resilience that we are seeing in the community is astounding.  Neighbors are checking on each other, sharing cell phone minutes, and working to remove trees.  

When the community hears about how many of you have reached out to offer support, we see smiles; they are grateful, and they are most thankful for your concern.  We will continue to share your well wishes with them, and we will share their stories of strength and hope with all of you.    

Your donations will go directly to the women and their families and our recovery effort.  You will be a key part to helping us make it through this crisis. 


Hurricane Matthew headed to Fond des Blancs, Haiti
Hurricane Matthew headed to Fond des Blancs, Haiti

Dear Friends and Supporters,

As we brace for what looks to be a direct hit from Hurricane Matthew, I thought I'd send a quick update to all. Many of you have reached out with questions, and offers of help.  We are thankful.

Hurricane Matthew is a slow moving storm and headed for the southern peninsula of Haiti, right near our operations in Fond des Blancs.  We can expect to receive 20 inches of rain (some parts 40") and winds may be as high as 140 mph.  It is all so difficult to imagine the power of this storm. 

So far we have been able to get in touch with all artisans and employees to warn them about this powerful storm.  We have set up a small emergency center for operations at our clinic where we will have staff on hand who can help.  Sometimes just being able to make a phone call to a loved one, or getting a ride to another village can help a family.

In terms of operations we are working to cover and secure sewing machine equipment and materials, so that the women will have work and can still make a living.  We are also working to secure the bees, the library, and library equipment, solar panels, etc..  We may lose a number of our hives that we use to train women bee keepers and this is difficult. We may also lose the roof on the library where we teach our kids and community memebers computer classes.  

It is hard to predict what will happen with such a powerful storm but we remain ready to help the community. 

Your donations will be key to helping us make it through this crisis and plan our recovery and rebuilding.

Our preparations over the weekend and into today have been strong and steady. Now its time to ride out the storm. Next, we will assess the damage, roll up our sleeves, and begin work rebuilding. 

Empowerment Workshop for our Women Artisans
Empowerment Workshop for our Women Artisans

In April, Haiti Projects hired an all-women consulting team IDEO (Institution de Development Personnel et Organisationnel) to visit Fond des Blancs to conduct an employee training workshop with the women artisans.  All of the artisans were invited to share thoughts about themselves, their work for Haiti Projects, and how Haiti Projects is doing as their employer.  We asked the IDEO team to try to focus on what we can do to improve the working environment.  Many women offered suggestions including, build a new workshop that they could call their own (House of Haiti Projects), increase the flow of steady work, avoiding fewer emergency orders, and bring in more innovative designs.  The artisans also shared their personal priorities.  Interestingly, the women say they are saving funds to:  1.  Educate their children, 2. send their grown children to Brazil for work, 3. buy a motorcycle and, 4. improve and repair their homes.  In other words, they value education, work, transportation and home improvements, not much different from most of us!

These workshops are supported by our donors help us improve the lives of artisans, by building capaicity, community, providing us with feedback, and by educating the women about future possiblites. 



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Organization Information

Haiti Projects, Inc.

Location: Hanover, MA - USA
Website: http:/​/​haitiprojects.org
Project Leader:
Cherie Miot Abbanat
Beverly, MA United States

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