The devastation of the 2010 earthquakes in Haiti is still evident years after millions of dollars poured in for relief. The earthquakes left more than 1 million people homeless and efforts to re-house them have been achingly slow. For far too many Haitians stability is only a dream. Laura Martin, Elizabeth Chrane and Cameron McCord are trying in their own small way to change that.
These women are founders of the Atlanta based non-profit called Ties that Matter. Martin said she came up with idea when her husband was going to get rid of a bunch of old neckties. Originally planned as a for-profit Ties that Matter became a non-profit company after the earthquakes.
Founded in 2009, the ambitious non-profit is focused on helping women struggling to rebuild their lives earn income using their sewing skills. The women use old neckties to create dolls, pillows and bags. Ties that Matter creates meaningful change for the women that create the products as well as the people that receive them. Non-profits can purchase the dolls for $12 dollars. An Emory University doctor did just that, purchasing 100 dolls for young patients in the child and adolescent mood program. Dr. Craighead believes the dolls will be a comfort for children experiencing anxiety and similar challenges.
Ties that Matter sewers do not earn a lot of money by US standards but what they do earn can change the fortunes of people living in grinding poverty. For example, profits help with basic needs for families and even education. As in most countries the women of Haiti are marginalized. They are also resilient. Despite years of difficult living they are hopeful about the futures they are working hard to shape.
So often we have resorted to hand-wringing and lamenting the suffering in Haiti. Not without good reason. There is much to deplore in the poverty and stalled rebuilding efforts. Ties that Matter is a reminder that no matter how bad things are there is always something we can do to make a difference.