Aid to Artisans is proudly working in Haiti as part of a three-year project funded by the UK’s Big Lottery Fund. “Champion for Change” aims to improve the lives of people living with HIV (PLHIVs) by generating sustainable income to support their families through handmade crafts. In partnership with the International HIV/AIDS Alliance (IHAA) UK and the Haitian organization Promoteurs d’Objectif Zerosida (POZ), ATA implemented several product development and capacity-building workshops in order to revitalize the production of bamboo jewelry for 420 PLHIVs from nine Northern communities of Haiti in Cap Haitien, including Limbe, Limonade, and Milot. These initiatives gave birth to a new association, Bambou Chic (bamboo in French), composed of 10 dedicated trainee graduates who are training more people living with HIV to produce bamboo jewelry. Under ATA’s program, Bambou Chic’s artisans have sold over 1000 bangles to local and international buyers.
Coeurcius Etienne, Manager and Master Trainer for shaping and sanding the bangles says:
“I think everyone should be at some point involved in every level of the organization in order to get an extended knowledge of it and to better choose what they want to do. I would like to see our organization growing, teaching people and making magic. I would also like it to expand its work across Haiti and in other countries. We are happy and fulfilled by working with bamboo. Art has always been something I wanted to do. And now I have the opportunity to make art for a living. As a Haitian, I also wanted to make something with my hands. This organization combines both, and helps me taking care of myself, my family, and my country.”
Anouse Guerrier, Assistant Manager and Master Trainer for designing the bamboo explains that she and her colleagues have trained more than 54 individuals leaving with HIV and have designed new flat and skinny bangles. Shey says: “I became very familiar with my work. Teaching about bamboo has exposed something new about me. This craft has become a highlight of my life and at the same time it is changing it and giving me hope.”
“Painting is a great science, it is an expression of the heart, a testimony of a real soul, it is an action of human senses”, says Brutus Teline – Art Director and Master Trainer for painting the bamboo.
Coeurcius Etienne, also told us that “[he] would like [their] company to cover all over Haiti and other countries.” Before accomplishing these amazing ambitions, Bambou Chic will first do its wonders in Haiti, where the project is set to conclude on September 30, 2016. By that time, Bambou Chic hopes to legally register their company and to succeed in becoming a sustainable source of economic growth for people living with HIV in Cap Haitien.
“Being a part of changing people’s lives is the greatest thing on earth. Therefore, let’s smile to one another and proclaim God’s Salvation through our action! Thanks to everyone who is helping us to make it happen.” says the Bambou Chic Team.