Here's what you may know about Haiti — there are thousands of children in orphanages. Here's what you may not realize — these children are not actually orphans, but children whose parents cannot afford to take care of them, due to the lack of jobs available in Haiti and the severe uphill battle against poverty that they are battling.
According to a recent New York Times article, "Of the roughly 30,000 children in Haitian institutions... the Haitian government estimates that 80 percent have at least one living parent." The article further explains that Haitian parents believe that their children are better off in orphanages, where they are able to go to school and be fed — private school fees in Haiti can run approximately $200 a year according to the article — a fortune to a Haitian family.
Haiti Babi CEO and co-founder, Katlin Jackson (pictured, center) shares, about her own experience visiting Haiti, which resulted in the launch of the charity: "We spent a week volunteering at an orphanage. While I was there, I fell in love with an orphan named Sterly. The only reason Sterly was living in the orphanage was that his family couldn't afford him."
Together, Katlin, along with co-founder and creative director, Kari Davidson (pictured, far right), and their small, dedicated team of employees and board members, Haiti Babi puts a simple, yet effective method into practice — moms helping moms. With the goal of creating jobs for Haitian moms that will allow them to keep their children out of orphanages by making a living that will support their family financially, Haiti Babi was born.
By teaching Haitian moms how to knit and crochet, creating gorgeous, handmade products, such as The Signature Blanket, Haiti Babi puts the age-old "teach a man to fish" philosophy into action, and in the best way. These products are then sold to more fortunate moms around the world, who can purchase them to help support the Haiti Babi moms directly.
Currently, Haiti Babi is sprinting through the motions of being a start-up and quickly into a full-blown charitable organization — they've recently raised over $15,000 for the Haiti Babi indiegogo campaign, more than double their fundraising goal and teaming up with Second Mile Ministries, who help manage the on-the-ground operations in Haiti. This is one charity that is making a place for itself in the world, while simultaneously making a difference for more and more moms and families as it grows.
Cortney Anderson-Sanford (pictured, far left) came on board with Haiti Babi as the expert mom — lending her experience as a mom of two school-aged boys to help build Haiti Babi as a charity that other mothers would respond to. For Cortney, being a "mom with a cause" goes beyond helping moms on the other side of the world; it also makes an impact in her own home, as a way to teach her children about giving back and how the lives of people around the world are different from theirs.
"We have board meetings at our house and discussions about what I'm doing with Haiti Babi, and [discussions about] why it's a big deal happen often with my kids," Cortney shares. "Kids have no idea that the world they live in, as Americans, is so much different that the world that other children are experiencing. It's a life lesson for them and being involved, as a family, in a charity that benefits less-fortunate children makes an impact."
Taking the significance of being a mom with a cause one step further, Cortney feels that it is valuable for her sons to see that she has a life outside of her role as their mom. Despite them being her priority, Cortney shows them, through her work with Haiti Babi, that she is doing her part to make a difference in the world.
Visit the Haiti Babi website to read more about what they're doing to help support moms and families in Haiti. You can pre-order your own Haiti Babi Signature Blanket, which will be available in early 2013. Other products, including knit hats, crocheted coffee cozies and more, all benefiting the Haiti Babi moms, will also be available for online purchase in the near future. Follow the Haiti Babi Facebook page for the latest information.
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