A Heart of Giving

This Mother's Day, I'm working with Clever Girls in support of Macy's Heart of Haiti to shine a light on the "trade, not aid" program, which provides sustainable income to Haitian artisans struggling to rebuild their lives and support their families after the 2010 earthquake. A long time ago, I remember getting ready for the annual summer trip to the Dominican Republic.  I couldn't have been more than 8.  I know that my clothes were laid out and I was wearing these khaki capris, a pink top and some plastic jewelry.

Mami was packing in her usual rolling-clothes method.  That night, I also remember rolling coins. Pennies, specifically.  We were taking them with us on the plane.  When we landed and were picked up at the airport, we drove directly to some hills. I have no idea where we were, I couldn't tell you if my life depended on it.

What I can tell you, though, is that on that day, I learned compassion, kindness and was blessed with a giving heart.  And all because of mami.  See, somehow, she'd figured out where she could go where there were kids in need.  I have hazy memories of the day but I will never forget the impact of our actions.

They ran to us from all sides. Some clothed, some without shirts, most without shoes.  For some reason, the dustiness stands out in my head possibly because I'd kept myself clean through the plane ride.  I didn't mind getting dirty then but I remember the dust coming up as the kids ran to us.  They weren't older than I, or perhaps they were and my memory has shrunken them to fit into the scope of that day. We stepped out of the car and right then and there, we handed out rolls of pennies to the children.  Children in need.  Children that looked like me. Children that were "home grown" Dominicans and children that were from our sister country of Haiti.  It did not matter.  Mami didn't see a difference.  They were all to be given something. She didn't treat them any differently than she would a child that would visit our home. Because they weren't any different to her.

I remember a discussion about giving back but I'm not sure if it's a figment of my imagination that was strewn together from the years of chit chats and reminiscing.  It does not matter, though.  Because this is a prime example of how it does not matter what you say, but your actions will speak for themselves long after that moment.

Any one of those kids could've been me. I guess that's what always struck me.  I'm not sure why mami picked that one place. Why she picked that time.  But it forever changed me.  There are no pictures of that day. No tangible remembrance of that what she did because, that wasn't what that moment was about.  And I will be forever grateful for the lesson.  She could've talked to me about compassion and giving but the lecture wouldn't have had half the impact that seeing her in action had in my life.

Mami, thank you for teaching me compassion, reminding me of our blessings and creating a giving heart in me.

Thank you to Macy's Heart of Haiti for sponsoring my participation in this “Share Your Heart" promotion. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. All opinions expressed here are my own.

What is Macy’s Heart of Haiti? 

Heart of Haiti is a “Trade, Not Aid” initiative launched by artist and social entrepreneur, Willa Shalit, The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund and Macy’s. Already, Heart of Haiti has led to employment of 750 artists in Haiti, providing financial benefits for an estimated 8,500 people in the country.

Each item is a one-of-a-kind design and handmade by a Haitian master artisan from raw materials such as recycled oil drums, wrought iron, papier-mâché and stone. The collection features more than 40 home decor items including quilts, metalwork, ceramics, jewelry and paintings and is made almost entirely from recycled and sustainable items such as old cement bags, cardboard, oil drums and local gommier wood.

Heart of Haiti products are available online at Macy’s.com.

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