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Seeds and Sewing Machines to Stitch the Future
March 15, 2012

Two of our Haiti projects—vocational training and sustainable farming—advanced during a trip to Haiti by UPLIFT Haiti volunteers in February. 

UPLIFT Haiti can conduct these project activities only because of our U.S. and Haitian volunteers and because of people like you who donate cash and materials.

Please consider making a tax-deductible donation at http://uplifthaiti.org/donate.htm.  No donation is too small, and we have no paid staff.  Our volunteers pay their own travel and lodging expenses, so all donations go directly to benefit our projects. 

In Baradères, students at the Fr. John Maxwell Vocational School are now learning sewing with seven brand-new, high-quality treadle sewing machines. 

Right now, the 17 women in the 2-year program are learning and doing—making the dresses for their graduation on June 17. Three UPLIFT Haiti volunteers will travel there for the graduation.

And in Kay Mak, a remote mountain community south of Baradères, the United Farmers of Kay Mak have begun distributing seed packets for 25 families in their new vegetable production project. 

UPLIFT Haiti had obtained open-pollinated seed of several high-value crops the farmers requested so their community could establish a more diverse diet and create new crop marketing potential for the region.  This will help enable the community to become healthier and more self-sustaining.

The Maxwell Center in Baradères is administered by the Little Sisters of St. Therese.

The sisters established the 2-year vocational program in 2010 to empower women to gain sewing, embroidery and cooking skills needed to find jobs and start their own small businesses in Haiti’s food service and textile industries.

Blessed Trinity Parish in Cleveland donated the new sewing machines. UPLIFT Haiti volunteers brought five Blessed Trinity parishioners to Baradères so they could bring the machines and other contributions and review the operations of the Maxwell Center.

The day they arrived, February 16, the UPLIFT Haiti and Cleveland groups—along with the center’s students and staff—installed the new sewing machines on existing treadle equipment. 

For the rest of the week, the visitors worked with the center’s three instructors to help the students with two major projects: 

  • Sewing and embroidering sturdy, attractive, brightly colored  market tote bags, and
  • Cutting patterns and assembling pieces for the matching dresses the students will wear for their June 17 graduation.

The visitors were impressed at how much the women have learned through the program. 

For example, each of them is now knowledgeable and skilled enough to design the blouse patterns based on her physical measurements.  That means the women can basically make clothing to fit anyone.

For Kay Mak, we brought all the vegetable seed the farmers requested:  cabbage, leek, onion, sweet pepper, hot pepper, eggplant, carrot and tomato. 

All the seed is open-pollinated, not hybrid.

That means the growers can save seed from the first harvest and plant again next season.  They will not be dependent on purchasing expensive hybrid seed each planting season.

During our visit we saw tiny cabbage seedlings—from a limited amount of seed we brought last fall—just beginning to emerge from carefully groomed seedbeds protected by a light mulch of dry banana leaves.

In Creole, “United Farmers of Kay Mak” translates to Kòdinasyon Peyizan Nan Ma, or KPM. 

KPM is a 30-year-old, 600-member organization.  The group operates the computer center that UPLIFT Haiti helped the farmers establish in February 2011 in their headquarters building. 

KPM immediately began providing fee-based computer services to their community, such as computer use, training, copying, scanning, laminating and printing.  

This week, we have a medical team in Petit-Trou-de-Nippes, a tiny village about 12 miles northeast of Baradères “as the crow flies”—and hours away by truck.  

The medical team will operate medical clinics for village residents, conduct public health training for young adults, and start a deworming program at an elementary school.

We’ll report details after the medical team returns.

Students installing sewing machine
While fellow students look on, Violine Pierre adjusts one of the new sewing machines.


Cutting out patterns
Clockwise from left, sewing instructor Sr. Jeanty, Cathy Dienes of Cleveland and Judith Nestor of UPLIFT Haiti help Marie Veronique Sainteus mark her skirt pattern.


Betting measured
UPLIFT Haiti volunteer Evelyn Brewer measures Marie Jannette Ociel for her dress.


Student drawing blouse pattern
Alberta Miliace draws the blouse pattern for her graduation dress to reflect her own measurements. The blouse follows a design modification that the students requested. One of the instructors, Mr. Gardy Amazone, sketched the design, and it is visible on the blackboard behind Alberta's right shoulder.


Students sewing
Guettine St. Victor sews her skirt while Gerline Orelis looks on, ready to help.


Emerging cagbbage seedlings
Tiny cabbage seedlings begin emerging from a rich seedbed constructed by the farmers in Kay Mak.


Unite People to Learn, Inspire and Form Together."

© UPLIFT Haiti