Haiti has been in and out of the news over the past weeks. Many of you have seen reports of riots or gang violence. But coming from a country that has long struggled with protests and general unrest, it’s easy to glaze over. Please don’t glaze over this letter from Ariane, our General Manager at Life SA, our garment factory in Port au Prince. She and her team want us to know what their jobs mean to them. They need us to lean in, to pray, to encourage. If you want to, drop us an email and we’ll send your words on to Haiti. As always, thank you to our community - we can’t do anything without you.
It has been 24 days. 24 days since Haiti has been completely paralyzed. Out of those 24 days, we have tried to open our doors at Life for a total of 6 days with minimal efficiency. We are operating on a day to day basis which rely upon these 3 key factors: Is it safe for us to leave our homes? Do we have a means of transportation? Do we have fuel to run the generator? Without these guarantees, we are struggling to keep our heads above water.
The challenges we are facing as a team are different yet the same. There has been ongoing insecurities and gang violence long before September 12th that we are all facing. We're scared to leave our homes whether it's by armored cars, taptaps, motos or even by foot. Our day to days are so unpredictable, which is the scariest part because every day is a risk leaving your home. This is a risk that our employees are willing to take at any cost, because "Le travail c'est la liberté." This is a saying in French that means, "work is freedom." One of the most important things we provide at Life, aside from fair pay, is a paid lunch every day. This is an added bonus for them because it is one less meal to have to pay for, especially during these times. Haiti as an island is extremely dependent on the importation of goods. We import about 90% of what we consume. Between the insecurity on the streets, particularly around the ports, and the lack of fuel, we are now dealing with a shortage of basic necessities.
It's been extremely hard for us, and everyone, to maintain the determination to keep going because it feels like the Haiti that we all love so much is giving up on us. It's easy to give up and turn our backs on this place, but we are resilient fighters. It has always been in our nature to fight, and we will continue to do so as long as we are able. We are beyond grateful for the continued support of our consumers that are fighting this fight with us. We know we are not alone, so a huge thank you from myself and the team at Life.
- ARIANE MANUEL