Below are words from Mia, our COO in Haiti and Julie, Founder and CEO regarding events at our work center in Haiti. We've set up a donation campaign, Beauty from Ashes, to help us replenish tools and supplies that were destroyed or stolen.
It is with a heavy heart that I share the news that on the night of October 6 a gang of violent thieves robbed and burned our beautiful Vi Bella center near the beach at Carries in Haiti. Thankfully all our artisans are safe as are the groundskeeper and his family. As of today*, I have not yet heard if the security guard has been located or is safe.
*Update: The security guard has been found safe.
Below find a message written by Mia, our Haitian COO in Haiti, the morning after the horrific event:
Good Morning Team-
Just three years ago, Vi Bella merged with Three Cords and relocated one of its two centers to Carries in hopes of transforming lives and communities by providing jobs. We worked tirelessly to turn an abandoned building into a mini campus that had a beautiful storefront that showcased all of our finished products and 7 small rooms where our artisans spent the last three years creating jewelry with purpose!
Last night, we were robbed and our building burned to ashes. The bandits in the hills once again took something beautiful and burned it to the ground. I stand here today on behalf of the Vi Bella team to tell you all but especially my Vi Bella family that I refuse to give up-We will continue to lead with love and compassion as God himself continues to present us with opportunities to make a difference. After all, sometimes corruption is slowed by shedding light into what was previously shadowed.
Well, we definitely aren’t going to dwell on what is already lost. It’s with a heavy heart that I say we will continue to investigate last night's events but in the meantime, we will relocate half of our jewelry artisans to our sewing center and the remaining half will work from home.
We have faced so many challenges in 2020 and we continue to do so, but believe me when I say, we will get through this together. I will be part of that force that continues to stand tall and recreate all that we stand for with hope, strength and love!
Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.
With Love and Blessings,
Sadly, this is not an uncommon occurrence in this particular area of Haiti. Over the past year and a half, homes, a mission, orphanage, church and other properties have been burned and vandalized by gangs in this area. Some people have even been murdered. We pray for an end to these violent actions and for those people involved to be brought to justice, but more importantly, encounter Jesus and be changed.
I agree with Mia that while evil forces burned and destroyed "things", nothing can destroy what is in the hearts and lives of people. Jesus is in each member of the team and His Light burns even brighter in contrast to the darkness we just witnessed. While we grieve the loss of a beautiful space to meet in, we move forward knowing we will be better than OK.
We have no insurance in Haiti for this type of event, and have lost everything. The tools, supplies, everything necessary for artisans has been reduced to nothing more than ashes.
Less than a week after the tragic event, our artisans met in Port-au-Prince to decide how to best move forward with work and to encourage one another.
This is the passage that came to mind as we processed the loss and looked together at he future:
Isaiah 61: 1-4
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.
4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.
As mentioned, we have a short term solution for the next several months in terms of locations for them to work. But they need replacement tools and supplies to be able to continue. We have set up a Beauty from Ashes campaign that you can participate in to bring hope and beauty for the artisans who are processing this trauma and want to move forward and continue to work.
Our artisans need your help to get the tools and supplies they need. See how you can support them to make Beauty from Ashes and show the love of Jesus by walking alongside them.
Thank you for the outpouring of prayers, love and support we have already received. YOU are deeply appreciated!
Love in Christ,