Vi Bella is an organization founded by a woman named Julie Hulstein, who followed her heart and took a mission trip to Haiti in 2011, one year after the massive earthquake shook all of Haiti and took 230,000 lives. Homes were destroyed, families were ripped apart and it became very difficult to simply survive. Since the earthquake, it has been challenging for the people of Haiti to get back on their feet.
After her initial trip, Julie’s heart exploded with love. She set out to employ the Haitian people so that they could provide for their families. Julie created a business called Vi Bella which means “Beautiful Life” in Haitian Creole. The organization empowers women through the art of making of unique, handmade jewelry. Every piece that is made by Vi Bella carries a story; a story of life, redemption, faith, and empowerment. Vi Bella currently employs sixty beautiful women and is continuing to grow through the support of businesses like Jackie.
My name is Megan and in September, I took Jackie’s mission to Haiti to see how we can empower woman across the globe. I was able to experience first hand what Vi Bella is all about and how the business is run. I went to connect Jackie and Vi Bella; to be the “on the ground Jackie girl,” to create and sustain relationships with the artisans and to be a resource that Vi Bella can utilize to empower their people. Ultimately, it was my goal to return with some clear cut ways that Jackie can truly make an impact on the lives of these individuals.
While I was there, I was able to meet every single artisan that has hand made each piece of jewelry. I heard all of the incredible stories of how a simple job completely changed their lives and the lives of their families. In Haiti, people with disabilities, either from birth or as a result of the earthquake, are considered outcasts by the rest of society. What was so impactful to me was that almost half of the Vi Bella employees are either deaf or have lost a limb. They are now given a chance to be a part of a beautiful family and the stability of a consistent income, an invaluable gift in Haitian culture.
The truth is, many Haitians are not employed or making money. This is the root cause of the extreme, nationwide poverty. Children are not able to go to school. They do not have access to medical help and proper hygiene products are rarely used or seen in Haiti. Despite all of these issues, I have never, in my life, seen more truly joyful people. The fact that they have to walk miles for water or work a full day just to provide a couple of meals and they are still so happy, leaves me in such awe. Seeing the hope that has been restored in these people through the simple offer of a job is life-changing. To see them able to make food for their families, buy themselves clothes and send their kids to school brings me to tears. A little goes a long way in Haiti. A few dollars can get them through the entire day and they are so grateful for the ways in which Vi Bella has provided for them.
Jackie strives to make a global impact. Woman all around the world need to be empowered, especially in third world countries. We believe that this partnership is going to bring even more meaning to our customers. Yes, high quality clothing is important if not essential, but at Jackie, we offer so much more. We believe that through this partnership, we will be able to see more chances for employment in Haiti, more children given the chance to go to school, and bring essential materials to create a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle. We know that there is power in numbers and our team at Jackie wants to connect with these women as we empower them and share in their joy. After my visit, I am really not sure who is helping who. I left so filled with joy by what I saw and experienced, it makes you wonder who is really in need.
If you are interested in supporting this ministry, you can visit their website and shop their site, or you can expect to see some Vi Bella product making an appearance in Jackie boxes, so subscribe today if you haven’t already! By purchasing a Jackie box, you are personally supporting and empowering the Haitian artisans, while providing employment and educational opportunities from the support Jackie is able to provide.