Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Disappointment--Haiti #8

If the only requirement were a desire to do good...

While staying at the Marriott, I was impressed with the beadwork on the menus. Gorgeous. Who thinks of beading menus? Beautiful beadwork made by someone in Haiti--could I find the artist?

I belong to the demographic of women who need eyeglass cases, who enjoy beauty on this necessity. The beadwork would be beautiful on an eyeglass case. I would give the cases to my friends. Could I market the eyeglass cases to other women? The cases are so beautiful, would a retailer think so too?

I imagined the bead workers were women and that I could find them. All the profits would go to these women and they could keep their children at home. Feed them. Clothe them. Maybe make enough money to send a child to school.

I took photos and started a search.

A man we'd met in Haiti who had his own charity told me he knew someone who beaded, and he sent photos of the man's work. Lots of leather sandals, large beaded purses, but not even close to the photo I'd sent.

When I mentioned this in my correspondence, I got the run around. He knew it was different, but he wanted me to see his work.

Our correspondence continued. More beating around the bush, more promises, more requests for specifics. I sent images of a simple eyeglass case, even took it apart so he could see its construction.

The man wanted measurements and colors. I traced an eyeglass case and measured it. Sent a photo. Sketched a possible design. I suspected he didn't have the artist.

I pushed the man and told him in order to proceed, I needed just one sample! I have an upcoming trip to Los Angeles and was hoping to make some contacts.

Okay, the man replied, but it's going to cost you money and I'll let you know how much.

Scrrrreeech. We are trying to help create a long term, prosperous, viable business. This is not a handout or a payoff. 

Yes, the man replied, these people don't understand how to do business, but I am here to do it for them.

 I'd previously tried to reason with this man, but all I got was rhetoric, and now it appeared he was more willing to handicap than to help.  Actually, his reply didn't make sense. The only sense it made was to RUN!

I sent a final email: I'm sorry for any inconvenience I've caused, but I need to withdraw from this project. My expectations will never meet the realities.

The abyss was too deep to explain any further.

However! I am not giving up. When I meet Raquel for lunch, she tells me of her aunt's dismay at having lost two children from her school. I later ask Raquel how much it would cost to reinstate those children. "Losing the children meant they had passed away."--from lack of food and nourishment.

Sometimes we have to come to the abyss, turn around, and find another way to our destination.