We set out on our very first trip to Haiti this summer with one goal in mind – to stop, escape the busyness, and to just do life with a group of people that we’ve grown to love through some of our dearest friends that have been returning for many years. We believe in relationships – in getting down to the heart of the matter – and that is exactly what fueled us to establish a partnership with the women in this area.
When we landed in Haiti, we had no idea how much love and beauty awaited us outside of the airport. In preparation for the trip, it’s easy to get lost in the logistics and outside opinions. We knew we were going into a third-world country. We knew it would be hot. We knew there were mosquitos. But all of those ‘fears’ and expectations fall off when you walk off of a plane and land directly in the heart of a culture that is home to some of your newest and most beloved friends.
Our trip from the airport to our destination was an adventure. The thing about adventure is that it’s never quite what you expect. It takes you places that you never thought you would venture into. It stretches you. And it invites you. Less than one hour into our bus ride, we found ourselves at a stand-still due to a traffic jam. As a result, we were frozen in time on the streets of Port-au-Prince as lives passed us by. It was a time to absorb and take it all in. It was life. We were fully immersed and able to come back to what we know to be true – that every individual has a story to tell. It was during this moment that our team began to gain a heart full of love for the people of Haiti.
This is what we came for: to stop and do life with these hearts. And that is exactly what we did. We stayed in a house with a number of local individuals. We ate what they ate, went to visit their friends and family, and played with the kids that they’ve spent their lives building relationships with. We walked in their shoes, and they showed us that language barriers don’t exist in the presence of joy and authentic friendships.
In the midst of it all, we had the opportunity to meet and develop a relationship with a number of girls who lived in the house that was hosting us during our trip. They are pure joy and have so much to offer. Among this group of girls is a beautiful young lady that has been on our hearts since our president, Jim Powell, visited the area back in 2012. During his trip, he met Francette – our newest director – and knew instantly that she was special, so we were naturally very eager to meet her, build a relationship with her, and essentially do life with her.
She greeted us when we arrived at the house and the rest is history. We spent the evenings getting to know her heart and sharing our vision for her place in Raggamuffin. We became friends. It was so natural. It was beautiful to watch her come to life as she spent the afternoons with our creative director, Natalia, learning about that heart of the company. During her training, Francette quickly picked up the skills and creativity that goes into making the flowers that are that are so beautifully incorporated into our ragga’wedding bouquets and hairpieces.
Before we knew it, she was sitting at the kitchen table with the other girls in the house teaching them how to to make each type of flower. She is a natural leader, and it was overwhelming to sit back and watch her share her position with her friends. This is what it’s all about – coming together and redefining what it means to be a raggamuffin. It’s about hope, freedom, and coming alive.