PeaceQuilts' newest mom is pretty amazing...OK, VERY amazing
Beliana Maxime is the newest mom in the PeaceQuilts family. And this is one lady who knows how to multi-task too, bringing her adorable son to work with her for the first few months so he could be close by. All the 'taties' or aunties - members of Beliana's group - pitched in to help. That's the kind of warm, supportive atmosphere which is a hallmark of Solidarity Cooperative.
In 2008, when Beliana first participated in a training program organized by PeaceQuilts, she never imagined she would become one of her group's leaders, let alone an artist whose original folk art quilts have been seen in museums, the Houston International Quilt Festival, and are prized by quilt collectors. But more than this, Beliana’s quilts have helped transform her life and create a future full of possibilities for her adorable new son Eberlin Jean. Sales of her quilts and other hand-stitched products provide a living wage. Over the years, she has become one of Solidarity Cooperative's most respected members, helping her group on its journey to becoming a self-sustaining business.
Last year, thanks to the generosity of PeaceQuilts' donors, Beliana was one of the first women to participate in a pilot project to utilize an online accounting program. Beliana and others are now learning to track their financials, invoice clients, and make decisions based on financial reports they are able to generate. And as you can see in the picture below, her son Eberlin Jean seems content to join in on the lessons!
This charming quilt depicts the scene of a neighbor who carries tiles behind her bicycle to repair her 'ti kay', a typical one or two room home in the countryside. Beliana added hand-stitched 'echo quilting' following the outlines of the composition, adding a vibrant energy.
What does all this mean for Eberlin Jean? For one thing, it means he’ll be able to go to school. In Haiti, even public schools are not free. That’s why so many children never receive an education. It’s not because education isn’t valued. Their parents simply can’t afford it. It goes without saying that Beliana’s job provides food, clothing and shelter for her son, but in addition, the success of her business means that all the members of her cooperative have the ablility to care for their children and afford the precious gift of education.
Rose Marie Agnant - Quilter & Mom Extraordinaire!
If you ask Rose Marie Agnant how many kids she has, she has to think. There's good reason for that. She and her husband Rulo have two grown children of their own. But with a little coaxing, she may start counting up all the other children they have taken in over the years.
It's about twenty. TWENTY. That's an amazing number no matter where you live on the globe, but it's even more extraordinary in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
In case you are thinking Rose Marie and Rulo must be rich in order to have taken in so many children, they're not. They aren't even what you might call 'well off'. But they get by, in part because of her earnings through the small artisan business that Rose Marie and eight other women established with the help of PeaceQuilts nearly ten years ago.
Rose Marie, Rulo and their 'daughter' Coralee
IN HAITI, ORPHANS ARE NOT ALWAYS TRULY ORPHANS
In Rose Marie's small village of Lilavois, like hundreds of other villages and cities in Haiti, life is challenging. Parents often don't have the resources to care for their own children. There are lots of orphanages, but many of the children are not orphans in the traditional sense. They often have parents who are in desperate circumstances without money for even the most basic necessities - food, clean water, an adequate place to live. This is the reality that Rose Marie and Rulo have responded to time and again, opening their home and their hearts to children who, for one reason or another, have no one else to care for them.
HOW PEACEQUILTS HELPS
It's one of the reasons why PeaceQuilts' job-creation mission began over twelve years ago. We started with the belief that even a small investment in women and their creativity can bring about big change - empowering women to earn a living so they are better able to take care of their own children and families.
PeaceQuilts provides sewing machines, equipment, furnishings, business training, logistical and market support to help women establish their own small independent artisan businesses. If parents can afford to feed, cloth and educate their children, they don't have to give them up to orphanages.
When Rulo lost his job a while back, Rose Marie's earnings made a big difference.
"It helped a lot," Rose Marie told us. "Having a business where I can earn a living means that we are able to manage during those tough times."
There's one last number we'll share with you. Recently, another of Rose Marie's 'daughters' had a baby. That makes five grandchildren she and Rulo now have. Clearly, no matter the number, this is a family where there's always enough love for one more.