Maker Stories

From Haiti to Your Home

June 24, 2011

We love getting customer feedback about our products, and lately we’ve had a few questions and comments on our home décor selections. The Community has spoken, and we’re glad you’re looking for fun, funky home accents like the uncommon items we have to offer!

One brand new Community Approved item, the Green Rhino Trophy Head, received some great feedback in our Community Voting App, and we’re excited to tell you more about how this terrific trophy came to be. Collaboratively conceived by Aid to Artisans designers, these paper mache heads are crafted by skilled fair trade artisans in Haiti.

Green Rhino

Aid to Artisans is an international nonprofit organization working to provide economic opportunities to craftspeople facing financial hardships. Since their founding in 1976, they’ve worked in over 110 counties. Now, over 30,000 artisans per year participate in their programs. Hundreds of these artisans live and work in Haiti.

In 2010, a massive earthquake struck the Caribbean nation, killing an estimated 316,000 people and leaving countless others injured and homeless. More than a year later, thousands of Haitian citizens are still displaced. With the help of organizations like Aid to Artisans, craftspeople such as those working for Caribbean Craft, a family-run artisanal business, are able to keep steady revenue coming into their community.

More than 100 artisans work from Caribbean Craft’s Port-au-Prince location assembling and hand-painting paper mache goods like the Green Rhino, Paper Bull Head and Paper Lion Head. As members of the Fair Trade Federation, Caribbean Craft and Aid to Artisans ensure that these workers are given safe working conditions and fair wages.

Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, was affected greatly by the magnitude 7.0 earthquake, but the town of Leogane—just outside the quake’s epicenter—was hit with the most force. Aid to Artisans is also working to help displaced artists in this small community.

Leogane has long been an artisanal town, known for beautiful soapstone carvings. According to Aid to Artisans, about 200 stone workers from several dozen families work in the town. Carvers use simple stone tools to shape, smooth and polish the “river rock” into sculptures such as the Haiti Heart and the Haiti Owl Sculpture.

Haiti Heart

We’re proud to offer these paper mache and stone sculptures from Aid to Artisans. Many of our other uncommon goods are also crafted by artisans in similar programs. To learn more, read our posts featuring jewelry artisans in Brazil and artisans crafting recycled handbags in the Philippines.

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