Searching for that last minute holiday gift? Why not consider a beautiful gift that also gives back from Macy’s Heart of Haiti or Rwanda Path to Peace product line? Designed to improve and enrich lives, Macy’s extraordinary collection of handcrafted art makes change and hope possible in Haiti and Rwanda. Both programs were developed using a “trade-not-aid” model that connects Haitian and Rwandan artisans to the global marketplace, providing a sustainable income to reinvest in their families, health, education and lives.
I have written extensively about both initiatives before and even had the incredible opportunity to go to Haiti in February 2015 to meet the Heart of Haiti artisans in person. Haiti was a life-changing trip where I witnessed the deep love of the arts and creativity in a nation that had been hit by so many tragedies yet remains so incredibly resilient.
The situation in Haiti still remains dire. The devastating earthquake of January 2010 and the most recent hurricane in 2016, have made it virtually impossible for many Haitians to make a living. Out of a population of 10 million people, an estimated 400,000 Haitians are artisans who rely solely on their handcrafted goods as a source of income. Astonishingly, the arts is the largest sector of employment in Haiti. Haitians have a deep-rooted love and culture of many different forms of art ranging from metal work to sandstone carvings to paper-mache and painting.
Heart of Haiti was established after the 2010 earthquake as a way to help the Haitian artisan economy survive and access markets. The first collection of Heart of Haiti products was launched in the fall of 2010 by a partnership between the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund and humanitarian Willa Shalit, and the initiative has grown steadily ever since.
Today, Heart of Haiti employs 550 artisans providing a steady income that benefits an extended 4,500 family members. This means more people are able to repair their homes, pay school fees for their children, and feed and clothe their families. Steady income means better nutrition, improved education, and access to healthcare. Now entering its seventh year, the Macy’s Heart of Haiti program continues its goal of helping Haitian artisans achieve economic empowerment through the sale of their handcrafted goods. Artisans receive 22 percent of the retail price for each item in the collection.
This holiday season, why not consider purchasing a Heart of Haiti tree ornament?
Other lovely products from Heart of Haiti include:
Heart of Haiti Soapstone Heart:
Shimmering in gold, the Soapstone heart can grace your home in a variety of different ways. This figurine, an unmistakable symbol of love, is covered with gold leaf on top. Each individual figurine is crafted with care by Haitian artisans who now have the opportunity to provide for themselves and their families. $16
I also really love the incredible metal art made out of recycled metal and the paper-mache. When I was in Haiti, I got to visit both metal artisans and paper-mache artists. It was amazing to see how they create such gorgeous works of art. Here are a few of my favorites below.
The Rwanda Path to Peace
When you look at the gorgeous hand-woven products sold in Macy’s stores as part of the Rwanda Path to Peace program, it’s easy to see them solely as objects of beauty, but in fact, each basket represents a journey towards reconciliation for the women who made them.
In 1994, we in America were totally unaware that a mass slaughter was taking place in Rwanda, a tiny country in the heart of Africa. In just three months, nearly a million people – 20% of the nation’s population – were massacred when tribal hatred between the Hutus and Tutsis turned into ethnic slaughter. Neighbors killed each other in one of the worst genocides in human history.
After the violence ended, many Rwandan women found themselves thrust into the unfamiliar role of being the sole breadwinner for their families, since their husbands, fathers and sons had been killed. Others saw their husbands jailed for committing unspeakable atrocities.
Despite this savage history, Rwanda today is a country of both hope and faith. Even though their physical and psychological wounds were fresh after the genocide, many women embraced an opportunity to heal. Weaving baskets became a way forward and a path toward peace. Women from both sides of the ethnic divide came together, wove baskets, and created an industry, which today supports thousands of Rwandan women and their families.
One American woman who vowed to make a difference helped the Rwandan women – social entrepreneur, artist, and activist, Willa Shalit. In 2005, Shalit (who is also behind the Heart of Haiti initiative) showed the baskets to executives at Macy’s who committed to sell them and to go into business with the weavers in Rwanda. Macy’s offered them a hand up, not a handout.
Rwanda Path to Peace is now the longest-lasting program of its kind, impacting thousands of women throughout Rwanda, their families and communities. With their earnings, women can now send their children to school. They can buy everything from soap to land, malaria nets to health insurance. The income they earn from their handiwork has helped rebuild their communities. One of the first things a weaver does when she sells her first basket is buy soap. The next thing she does is buy shoes and pay school fees. Many weavers today have seen huge improvements in their lives. Here is a powerful videos featuring such stories:
Doracella Uwinana talks about how weaving baskets for sale at Macy’s has changed her life. She says: “When women work together, we have a voice.” “I would like to thank Macy’s for selling the product we make with our hands.”
Today, Macy’s Path to Peace initiative offers a variety of gorgeous products ranging from elaborate weaved baskets to bowls and even ornaments.
Handcrafted by artisans from Rwanda, this limited edition Gold ornament has a red ribbon for hanging and comes with its own gift box. This ornament is also signed by the artisan, so you know each one is authentic. By focusing on poverty reduction through job creation and access to global markets, the Global Goods Partners initiative helps whole communities of people in Rwanda lift themselves out of poverty. $18.00. To purchase this ornament, click here.
Want to see all of Macy’s gifts that give back? Click here.
Want to learn more?
If you want to read any of my posts on Haiti, I wrote several of them here.
Also, here is my post on Rwanda’s Path to Peace.
This post is sponsored by Everywhere Agency who I’ve worked with on the Heart of Haiti program. I received a free ornament in compensation for my post; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.