I (Sarah (Yama)) once heard it explained that your personal style is made up of all the bits and pieces of your life experiences. Where you’ve lived, where you’ve been, who you know, who you’ve met, what you’ve seen. It all adds different elements to how you express yourself. I happen to love the experiences I’ve had so far in my life, and I completely agree that each new experience adds its little spice to who I am. I’m excited to share with you about an amazing experience I recently had, and I have Matilda Jane to thank for getting me there.
About 2 months ago, the lovely Kayla got an email from our dear friend Martha from weareDAR. Martha was working on a new project and she needed the right person to help at the last minute. I was speechless when Kayla said, “so, do you want to go to Haiti?” Of course I want to go to Haiti!! An hour later, I was emailing Martha, still in shock over the fact that this was happening.
Martha’s vision for weareDAR and the aDARable project is simple: create opportunities for women in need, in order to create opportunities for so many others. She set out to open a sewing factory in Haiti, and employ a group of women there. So, over the last several months the clothes were designed, the women were interviewed, and the resources were found to bring this dream to life.
Fast forward a few weeks when I jump into a car with my team of 5 people whom I have never met before, and our Haiti adventure begins. As soon as I got off the plane, my excitement was through the roof. Brilliant sunshine, mountain landscapes (born and raised in Indiana – mountains are still a novelty to me), nothing but my suitcase and passport, and the eagerness to make the most of this experience. I wanted to soak in everything I could – every color, every mountain, every face, every sound.
And so we began setting up the factory. Tables were given new tops, supplies were organized, machines are set up, and training begins…
And then comes on of the most unique experiences for me: teaching someone how to use their new sewing machine, without speaking a single word of their language. Suddenly this element of communication that we rely on every single day, was gone. And with our translator already translating for someone else, I had no choice but to make it work. I have nothing but the ability to demonstrate, point, a “thumbs up” motion (thankfully they understood that) and a smile to make this happen. What an amazing feeling to see her sit down afterwards and do everything perfectly. To have only her facial expressions to know that she feels so proud and so accomplished that she can do this. All without really speaking a word. What a unique and incredible feeling that is.
Because of my love for sewing I felt a bond with those women right away. They all have this one unique skill, that so few around them share. They can sew, and that skill is now going to allow them to have a job, have structure in their lives, have a reliable supply of food for their families, clothing and schooling for their children.
And the children. Oh those cute little faces that would run toward us every morning on our walk to the factory. Who would hold our hands and sit on our laps and be content with that all day long. When the word spreads that the Americans are in town, they all bring their friends to the factory to find out what’s going on. They would crowd around the door and the windows, slowly trickle inside, and sit down and watch. They never bothered us, just watched. And I loved imagining what their thoughts were at that moment. Watching these women who they know from the village, being given an opportunity, working hard for that opportunity. We are not just changing the lives of these women, we are slowly transforming an entire village. This affects all of them, at all ages, now and (hopefully) far into the future.
It’s an amazing project that DAR is working on, and I am beyond grateful for the chance to be a part of it.
It’s never just about the clothes. It’s about what the clothes can do. Every piece of clothing is made by someone. It’s made by the hands of a real person who carefully puts those pieces together so you and I can get dressed every morning. It’s also about that person being able to buy clothing for their children so their daughters can put on something nice and feel like a princess, just like your girls do in their new MJ. This is how clothing can really be used for good, to give these women an opportunity, to enable them to provide for their family, to feed, clothe and encourage their children.
Please check it out: weareDAR.org/aDARable