I've been thinking more and more about all of those humanitarian projects I want to do. Well, last week I contacted Sue Frame, Director of Jakmel Ekspresyon in Jacmel, Haiti, to ask if she wanted to collaborate on project....she said yes! I was so excited to hear that she was on board. Remember that I've wanted to make dresses for girls and women to inspire confidence.....well that idea has evolved.
A little background on Sue: She's amazing! She was the shop manager and my boss in grad school. After losing a friend in the Haiti earthquake, she and a few friends put there heads together to open up Jakmel Ekspresyon (JE) on the basis of providing local artists with space and facilities in a non-discriminatory environment. The center provides skills and resources to empower self-change and entrepreneurial spirit to local and international artists.
I contacted Sue to talk about setting up a sewing studio to teach the basics of sewing, garment construction, machine maintenance and (drum roll please) business management. JE is a great organization to work with because Sue is a great teacher and inspiring person; members receive free classes in return for developing and teaching classes to others. Once a member has gone through a class they're able to use the facilities to earn a living. As homage to JE, they contribute 10% to operations. The framework is there to be sustainable!
I was exploding with joy after our conversation on the phone. Need I mention that she also invited me for a visit in January to meet JE and its members? I will get a feel for Jacmel and see if it's a good fit to go forward. I just purchased my ticket and am on to thinking about what kinds of questions I'll ask when I meet everyone. I want to ask them if this is something they would like to learn and how they envision using the skills. From my understanding, Jacmel is a culturally alive city, flowing with performances in dance and theater. So it seems natural to have a studio space to make costumes or a clothing line or fix already existing garments.
I believe that people can gain the skills necessary to overcome what seem like defeating odds. They just need more Jakmel Ekspresyon's in their lives. Cheers to exploring and reaching out to help others!