I played hokey on Thursday am and left my surgical team hard at work while I went for a tour of Project Stitch.
The tour was organized by two people with big hearts. Travis, the incredibly talented and proactive photographer that works with Team Broken Earth. Nommi is one of the two coordinators that works with medical volunteers and was part of the driving force that created the program. She and Dr. Jo Cherry, the chief medical officer at Bernard Mews Hospital brainstormed ideas about rehabilitation and employment after the devastating earthquake left so many amputee patients.
At first it was in the hospital compound but they outgrew that space so they are now in a warehouse type setting. It’s bright large and poorly ventilated so it’s quite hot. They had a donation of a dozen sewing machines. The number of people sewing seems to fluctuate according to Travis. He returns regularly to check up on them and to bring groups there to push forward momentum for the sales and exposure.
For every item sold the coop takes $5 for material and presumably rent. They make ties, OR hats, bags, pencil cases and school uniforms. All items are cut out by hand by the instructor as her rotary cutter broke some time ago. I was unable to ascertain if she is paid a salary as there is only one of Travis so he couldn’t be every where to interpret for us.
A surgeon and I discussed the possibility large group order of OR hats. I “talked” and “drew” how to make a different style for the instructor. I told her that I would send her two rotary cutters which is why I found out that Haiti has no mail service. So I’m still working on the logistics of that.
On the way back we had a good discussion about the production and the productivity of the group. The potential in space, equipment and social media marketing exists for Team Broken Earth groups across Canada to help turn this project up a notch. We could do it, no problem at all, but the issue is two-fold. There is no point of sale system to support purchases and an apparent lack of enthusiasm. More than 12 sewers are trained but only 6 were present and only 3 were being productive. Each and every time Travis returns with a group he is asked by members for money. It’s a good cause and he supports them by bringing groups by but he feels they need to take ownership. Which then brought us back to the discussion of first world drive, ambition and goals versus the cultural norm that is Haiti. It begged the question of whether or not we were trying to import our standards and expectations on them. I could see such potential but real change needs a grass-roots level of involvement to really BE THE CHANGE.