In the past ten years, our team has seen that which has taken us out of our previous, comfortable “normal.”
The devastation of Haiti's 2010 earthquake, people living in abject poverty, a cholera epidemic, hurricanes, too many orphans, too few jobs, dangerous political and social demonstrations and uprisings, the list goes on. In the face of it all we were convinced that we could make a difference; that we were called to make a difference in the name of Jesus Christ and to His glory.
We were blessed to not only make a difference in the lives of people who needed a hand up, but our lives were transformed for the better by working alongside our challenged, yet persistent and strong friends. Yet, it was so very, very..what’s the right word? Difficult? Demanding? Complicated? Exhausting?
Now a world pandemic, COVID-19. What do we do now?
First we address the health problem head on.
We have been extremely blessed by some kind-hearted friends and supporters whose donations to our non-profit organization, Vi Bella Serves, are helping support artisans in Haiti who cannot safely come to work during the COVID-19 crisis. Artisans who can travel safely are reporting to a spacious, clean, work space with very stringent health standards to sew face masks for use in the Haitian population.
Our Mexican team is finishing up some projects from their homes. We are working on decisions about what the next months will look like as the virus spreads there. We will keep you updated.
The US Vi Bella team is working remotely, trying to stay healthy. One exception, a staff member ships out customer orders and supplies needed in international centers. We also have a group of US staff and volunteers sewing fabric face masks from their homes. The masks are available on our website for a very reasonable price, just enough to cover costs and provide them to those who need them.
As a Business…
We must acknowledge that we are in a difficult situation. Most of you reading this have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis in some way, many of you financially. Many of our larger wholesale orders have either been put on hold indefinitely or cancelled because of the uncertain financial landscape we find ourselves in.
Meanwhile, we are fully stocked with beautiful products handcrafted by Vi Bella artisans and by artisans from other organizations around the world. If you can and want to purchase fair trade gifts for family and friends, and accessories for yourself, now is the time! We are offering 25% off all Vi Bella, site wide with free shipping. Our goal? We want to get our artisans’ beautiful creations into your hands. We want you to see and touch what Vi Bella artisans have lovingly made in the jobs they are so very grateful for. Your purchases keep our business and hope alive through the next months as we develop even better initiatives for the long term to employ people who need good jobs for years to come.
I am at home praying, planning, video conferencing, talking on the phone, and yes, sewing masks. Actually, sewing masks is probably the task I appreciate most right now. It feels like I am accomplishing something; that I am contributing something concrete.
Ironic, because it is time to remove my mask. Normally, I would like to say that everything is fine. I would point to the positive outcomes we see despite the struggles and share the bright future I envision. The truth? I am not OK. I’ve cried many tears over multitudes of issues. I miss seeing people in Haiti and Mexico. I miss going to work and seeing our team. I miss having a solid plan. I hate knowing that SO many people are getting sick, especially in countries and communities where there is no safety net. I have been extremely humbled and have had to acknowledge that I am not in control of most of what is happening around me.
Here’s what I’m going to do personally. I will do the best I possibly can with the resources and decisions God entrusts me with. I will leave the rest in God’s mighty, loving, capable hands. And I will tell the truth. Trying to provide jobs in impoverished communities is daunting on the best of days. And now? Almost unfathomable. We all need each other to continue.
How about you? Are you hiding behind the mask of “OK”?
I’m asking you to join me in being real about where we stand. Take care of yourself. Then, let's join together to do the best we can to love others well in these trying times.
Julie Hulstein, Founder