Haiti’s Silenced Victims

Repeating Islands


Athena Kolbe and Robert Muggah (The New York Times) present a distressing scenario for women in Haiti where, they write, “rape is an especially insidious crisis.” Here are excerpts with a link to the original article below:

[. . .] The message came from a Haitian researcher in our group, an enthusiastic and talented graduate student whom we’ll call Wendy. She had been walking alone a few blocks from our hotel when she was forced into a house and brutally raped. We quickly located a doctor but he refused to examine Wendy, saying she needed to be seen by the authorities first. We then contacted the police, and after a grueling interview in which one officer repeatedly asked Wendy, “What did you do to make him violate you?” the police said she was free to be examined. The doctor, however, couldn’t be found.

Although Haiti routinely suffers from…

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Fashion Show to Help Haitians in Need


Fashion show host Charmika Schuster caring for an injured child in Haiti. (All photos by Charmika Schuster for GlobalMustardSeeds.com)

logoIt is always a joy to witness how people come together for a great cause, especially if fashion can some how squeeze through. St. Mary’s Academy in Portland Oregon will be hosting a fashion show and auction on December 22 the. The Catholic Sentinel reports that the fashion show will be hosted by St. Mary’s alumna Charmika Schuster. All proceed of the show will go towards medical supplies for victims of the 2010 earthquake as well as hurricane Sandy.

Schuster is currently a nurse practitioner at Oregon Health and Science University. She has already made numerous trips and spent countless hours providing relief for victims of the earthquake. Her last visit was at the beginning of 2012. She admitted that after witnessing the situation on the ground, it’s difficult to imagine anyone could make a difference at a glance. It seem that is exactly what compelled Schuster to take the challenge.

Global Mustard Seeds Missions Inc.In 2011, Schuster started Global Mustard Seeds Missions, a non-profit that provides mobile medical care services within economically impoverished regions affected by local catastrophic events. Teams are jump started by volunteers, but sustained by local clinicians after the withdrawal or decline of first response emergency organizations.(http://www.globalmustardseeds.com/index.html)

Schuster added that due to the aftermath of hurricane Sandy, the amount of need has increased. haiti150She will be making another trip to Haiti at the beginning of January to help with further relief efforts. Her hopes are pretty simple; get medical supplies to local clinics and doctors.

We’re not sure what is going to be showcased at the fashion show, but it will be amazing if they can have a significant turnout. Schuster’s fashion show will be held at the St. Mary’s Academy auditorium. For any additional information, contact Charmika Schuster at charmikaschuster@gmail.com or (202) 329-7212. Also, check out Schuster’s own Global Mustard Seeds Inc. here.

Haiti Fashion Week: Part 2!

Fashion Week 2012

During the weekend of November 8th-11th, The Republic of Haiti hosted its inaugural Fashion Week.  The event was sponsored by the European Union.  The show was coordinated with the help of several organizations, including the Haitian Support Center for the Promotion of Enterprise, Haitian Network of Designers, and the Ministry of Culture.  Fashion Week featured local Haitian boutique owners and worldwide style icons.  People all over the world, from the Dominican Republic to Japan, flocked to Port Au Prince to see 36 amazing, talented designers showcase their upcoming collections.

Because the climate in Haiti is perpetually mild and warm, the apparel lines consisted primarily of tropical resort-wear.  I was impressed by the intricate, artisan swimsuits, floral sun hats, and breezy, light layers.  In general, bright prints, tribal accents, and sheer overlays were the primary styling themes throughout the clothing.

Floral and safari graphics are mixed together in Milliance’s simple, yet beautiful outfit.



Giovanna Menard’s establishes a connection with nature, through earth-toned accessories and animal-printed fabrics.


Giovanna Menard:

According to Dominican-Republic designer Socrates McKinney, “Haiti has a very strong culture, and that in some sense has to be reflected in the fashion.”  The Haitian designers went above and beyond with incorporating heritage and history in their clothes.  The garments definitely portray the current social, cultural, and economic landscapes of Haiti – in fact, some intricate outfits were literally superimposed with two-dimensional, still-life works.

This dress by Verona, a native Haitian designer, reflects a scene from the Haitian War of Independence, an important part of Haiti’s history.  Verona displays reverence for Toussaint Louverture, Dessalines, Henry Cristophe, and Alexander Petion – the Founding Fathers of Haiti.

The soldier’s clothing on the dress resembles the military fashion of the era.  The jacket, top-hat, and fitted white pants were, like most armies’ attire at the time, inspired from the infamous uniforms of the British Redcoats.

Although the Caribbean-themed clothing was highly emulated, the evening wear truly spotlighted the Haitian designers’ artistic talents.  Each individual garment was stunning in its own, indescribable way.  However, I was especially fascinated by the show’s gradual day-to-night style shift throughout.  The same islander themes, color palettes, and graphics were still used as the clothing slowly transitioned to black-tie apparel.  The summery, tribal maxi-dresses were now embellished with sequins and beads.  Designers began accenting their creations with bolder and flashier accessories.

Notice Maelle David’s s subtle style transformation. She incorporated a funky, geometric theme in her elegant white gown. The ribboned fedora and loose, asymmetrical, yet sleek jacket help establish a more glamorous tone throughout the outfit.

Maelle David:

The blazer-and-pencil-skirt combination is popular in our corporate-world today.  Sibylle Denis Touat mixed the business-casual and cocktail-affair looks together in a truly unique way.  A bright, fitted blazer is layered on top of a ruffled black dress.  Touat topped the outfit off with sparkling, bold accessories.

Sibylle Denis Touat:

I really like how the hibiscus, Haiti’s national flower, is patterned throughout the overlay in Miko Guillaume’s beautiful maxi-dress.

Miko Guillaume

The Republic of Haiti is still reeling from the effects of its devastating earthquake, and many designers struggle to broaden their businesses locally.  As David Andre stated, “The clientele I have (in Haiti) is very, very small, so that’s why I have to work much harder overseas.”  The apparel industry received a good deal of international publicity with the help of renowned Haitian designers, such as Michel Chatigne, Patrick and Fabrice Tardieu (founders of Bogosse), and Hassan Pierre.  Furthermore, visitors from around the world now understand more about the Haitian culture, history, and the entire country as a whole.

Overall, Fashion Week was highly successful. The entire nation worked together to take large steps in both the global fashion world and in improving the nation’s infrastructure. The Republic of Haiti was able to increase awareness in designers in several countries.  Through Fashion Week, the designers spread a common goal: to make a charitable impact in their nation through fashion.  Although the native designers may have different ideas and styles and work independently from each other, coming together for such a wide-scale, international event gave them all a great sense of Haitian pride and national unity.  As David Andre said, “It was such a great, great experience to have Haitian designers all on the same runway.”

For more information on Haiti Fashion Week or need some advice regarding styling, please contact me at ericalin.dressesforhaiti@gmail.com.  I will be posting some of your questions in a Q & A feature soon!  (If you would like your name to be kept anonymous, or would prefer not to have your question published, that is fine. Just specify this in your email.)

Until next time,



Andrea Echeverri, president of Temple Project Haiti

Temple Project Haiti is a student organization created over a year a ago. They focus on raising money for the Saint Francis Xavier Orphanagelocated 4 miles away from Port-au-Prince. Echeverri explains how a trip to Haiti for spring break influenced her to extend the organization to Temple,

I saw some green going on and all of a sudden we get to this bay-looking area and it just all turned brown, like dirt or sand,” Echeverri, a senior public health major, said. “You just don’t see green anymore and that was really striking to me. I didn’t expect to see the bigger picture of what causes that kind of poverty so soon.

She remembers that was the exact moment she realized her reason for going to Haiti was to serve. The project was then started by Echeverri and vice president Meredith McDevitt on Temple’s main campus in Philadelphia. They were introduced to the project when students from Penn State visited their campus and performed a presentation. Echeverri and McDevitt both took a four day trip to the Saint Francis Xavier Orphanage. Echeverri was excited to finally have the ability to visit the orphanage she had heard so much about.

Meredith McDevitt, the vice president of Temple Project Haiti

I was really excited. I was almost overwhelmed with joy to be there because we had been talking about it for the past six months, and we had heard from other people about the country and the situation. I just really couldn’t wait to see the kids, because that’s what the whole point of the group is.

Evecherri and McDevitt spent most of their time strictly with the children.  They also talked about the different experiences that they had with the children when they went to visit. McDevitt says,

When people come to Haiti, the locals know it’s for a reason — usually service. At the beginning of the trip kids would just call me ‘blanc’ and by the end of the trip they called me ‘godmother.’ They speak Creole, and I noticed they started calling me something different from ‘blanc’ so I asked the translator what it meant and he said ‘little godmother.

Evecherri explains that the children eventually started to open up once they realized that they were there to help.

When we got there we were some of the first white people the children had seen. There was also an age difference and language barrier. We were all about getting on their level and playing with them. They went from being shy and staying in their tent, to us playing this huge game of tag that set the mood for the rest of the week.

The project is constantly growing day by day and the orphanage couldn’t be more happy to have such a dedicated group of member to support them.

For more news and information about Saint Francis Xavier Orphanage got to: http://sfxhaiti.org/home/node/1

To keep up with everything from upcoming events to news about Project Haiti, follow Project Haiti- Temple University on Facebook.

Fashion Week in Haiti!!

Fashion Week 2012: A Short Overview

During November 8th-11th, The Republic of Haiti will host its inaugural Fashion Week!  This glamorous event will take place at the five-star Karibe Hotel in Port Au Prince.  Opportunities for tourism and learning about Haitian Outreach are available all day until 6 PM, at which time the designers will show off their stunning new collections.

Karibe Hotel:

Fashion Week will be comprised primarily of Caribbean clothing lines and aspiring native-Haitians in the apparel industry, as well as a few globally-acclaimed style icons.  Many of the designers are also strong advocates for charity and outreach in Haiti.  Haiti Fashion Week is a great opportunity for international and local designers to exhibit their upcoming collections, help expand Haiti’s young, growing apparel industry, and promote awareness about the plight of their country’s 2010 earthquake victims.

Earlier this year, Donna Karan, founder of Urban Zen, partnered with local Haitians in the industry to collaborate on apparel designs, promote their lines, and broaden her outreach network.  Among these was Michel Chataigne, an upcoming Haitian clothing designer.  Chataigne truly expresses Haitian cultural themes in his line through breezy fabrics, intricate artisan detailing, and bold color palettes.  Although Chataigne is well-known internationally through London Fashion Week, he has not heavily marketed his line to the USA.  Fashion Week will be a great chance for Americans to see his unique creations.

Michel Chataigne:

Some of Chataigne’s amazing garments:

Since 1999, Maëlle Figaro David has been both a savvy entrepreneur and apparel designer in Port Au Prince, Haiti.  Her company is prominent in both the Haitian fashion and business industries.  Maëlle styles and produces an extremely wide range of clothing, including schoolgirl uniforms, dance costumes, carnival attire, and even wedding gowns from couture.

With her unique draping techniques, geometrically shaped ruffles, and subtly detailed patterns, Maëlle Figaro David truly makes each of her creations as if it was an individual, custom-made piece of art.  The Maëlle collection is available to both local and international buyers on www.maellecreations.com.

Maëlle Figaro David:

Some of Maëlle’s beautiful designs:

Additionally, some US designers will participate in Haiti Fashion Week, including Dayanne Danier. Owner of the label “Bien Abye,” which translates to “Well Dressed” in French Creole, Danier creates sleek and modern clothing while mixing vibrant, Amazon-inspired themes in her collection. She describes her target audience as “… a woman who wants to put her best self forward. Her wardrobe is an investment, it’s constantly evolving, she likes to work and enjoy different activities…she’s chic, classic and attractive.” (New York CaribNews)

Dayanne Danier:

Some of Danier’s stunning outfits:

The complete lineup of designers at Haiti Fashion Week is available at http://www.haitifashionweek2012.com/#!designers/c1qvi/.  Many of these the apparel lines debuting at Haiti Fashion week are characterized by contemporary high-fashion juxtaposed with Haitian artistic inspiration.  If you would like to learn more about some of the designers or want ideas on fashion styling, please let us know!

Fashion Week will bring publicity to Haiti on several levels.  Not only will the designers be able to promote their fashion lines internationally, but the Republic of Haiti will have a chance to boost the apparel sector in its national economy.  Just a few years ago, Haitian clothing exports to the U.S. alone totaled around 500 million dollars, and experts predict that this statistic will grow steadily.  The fashion industry can create many new jobs and improve infrastructure overall.  Fashion Week could be the local aspiring designers’ and artists’ big chance to break out into the global apparel industry and expand their boutiques into large companies. (Huffington Post)

For more details on Haiti Fashion Week, email info@haitifashioweek2012.com or call 954-393-9077 (USA).

Do you have any favorite Haitian designers who you would like us to feature in an upcoming article? Leave a comment below, or email ericalin.dressesforhaiti@gmail.com. I would love to hear your feedback!

Until next time,


Will Facebook be a Difference Maker for Non-Profit Fundraising?

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the country is in an utter disarray, especially the Northeast. If there was ever a need for organizations such as the American Red Cross to inherit the ability to extend its already global outreach, it has finally come. This coming Thursday, Facebook will begin offering a new charitable donations section titled Facebook Gifts. This move should prove to be very significant for non-profits all over the world.

The new gifts section will be available Thursday and includes about a dozen charities including the American Red Cross, Livestrong, Blue Star Families, Boys & Girls Club of America, DonorsChoose.org, Kiva, Oxfam America, Girls Inc., St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, Water.org, and RAINN.

In a recent blog post Facebook explained

With each charitable contribution on Facebook, you can choose which nonprofit you would like to support. Or if you don’t know which organization to choose, you can let your friend make the choice.

Not only will many of these organizations gain the ability to raise more funds, it will also increase the exposure and raise awareness of each. The ability to learn about thousands of non-profit organizations all over the globe are right at your fingertips with this new feature. Facebook product manager Jared Morgenstern led the project himself, he added

Using Facebook to give the gift of a charitable contribution means you can introduce your friends and family to a specific nonprofit organization you care about, or to a larger world of nonprofits, Facebook Gifts will act as a platform where people can learn about nonprofits, discover how easy it is to contribute to their work, and then share that with their friends.

Hurricane Sandy (while not an ideal situation for the country) will be a potentially affective indicator of whether or not the Facebook Gifts feature will really be successful. Morgenstern also mentioned that the feature is still in the testing stages.

What an amazing opportunity for all fellow non-profits around the world. Hopefully the new feature gains some much anticipated momentum so that there may one day be an opportunity for our own organization to join. Everyday we endlessly strive for more exposure in order to increase our own global outreach.

The only downside to the Gifts feature is that not everyone has the luxury of using it right now. Only those that have the Gifts feature activated on their accounts can currently use it. For those looking to donate to Hurricane Sandy relief, eBay and iTunes offer alternative online sections.

We are extremely excited and interested to see how far the feature goes.

Charity Raises Bar for Haitian Victims.

We absolutely love to cover charities that help improve the lives of disaster victims, specifically in Haiti. We want to take the time and highlight European Disaster Volunteers (EDV) is a volunteer based charity focused on helping environmentally ravaged communities to a speedy and effective recovery. EDV has a very large global outreach, but the work they do in Haiti has become a staple in their long list of credentials.

The charity’s founder, Andy Chaggar has personally put in tons of work some 18 months after the 2010 earthquake. Even more incredible, since the earthquake, EDV has raise over $400,000. Their particular efforts in Port-au-Prince led to the acquisition of over 1,00 donors. With the help of 190 volunteers from 18 different countries, the EDV managed to complete 20 projects that directly helped over 3,000 survivors. They have a complete End of Haiti Deployment Report to show their exact accomplishments.

Andy is a survivor of a disaster himself; the tsunami in Asia led to him attaining a Master’s Degree in social policy and development with a focus on disasters. Andy along with additional co-founders adopted a list of goals that the charity would focus on:

  • Committing to long-term sustainable recovery
  • Filling the gaps that are often left behind when more traditional groups withdraw
  • Working in close partnership with survivors and local NGOS
  • Charging volunteers a low fee which would keep volunteering accessible without burdening donors
  • Raising awareness about how the actions we take at home every day affect disaster survivors around the world.

In what began as a small charity, the EDV has become one of the biggest success stories of any charity of that scale. Andy is very proud to have reached this success,

We passed the landmark last week. I am very proud and also grateful to the many, many people who have helped along the way.

He even mentions that he really wishes to have a reserve of cash readily available whenever a natural disaster may occur. That would be one of the greatest achievements if something like that were ever available to any active charity.

We hope that we may be able to shine a light on more charities with similar success stories such as Andy and the European Disaster Volunteers soon.

If you have any additional questions for EDV, they can be contacted directly at info@edvolunteers.org

Haiti-inspired Fashion for Fall

When you travel to a new place, what do you first notice?  Does the warm, clean, island air lift your spirits?  Do you smell exotic, spicy dishes cooking at the restaurant a few blocks down?  What have you heard about this place and what do you think you’ll see?  How is it different from your hometown?  What aspect of this place intrigues you most?

Personally, I notice the clothing differences whenever I go on foreign vacations.  I am fascinated by their apparel designs and how they tie into their culture.  Today, I have compiled some ideas for Fall Fashion inspired by Haiti’s unique heritage, landscapes, and art.

  1. Big, bright florals.

    Fernand Pierre: Fleurs avec Pot Bleu

    Fernand Pierre: Fleurs avec Pot Bleu

    • Haiti’s beautiful flora and fauna remain in full bloom throughout the autumn months.  Colorful trees and plants line the beaches of Haiti.  The Hibiscus, the national flower, is especially prominent in the tropical Haitian landscape.

  • Get the look: Whether or not you live in a perpetually warm region, you can always sport beautiful, summery flower-prints.  For instance, I carry this floral-print Juicy Couture tote during all four seasons of the year.  I really like how tropical themes and images were painted into an abstract design on the fabric. The textile almost resembles one of my favorite Haitian art pieces, shown above.


2.Artistic tribal prints and embellishments

  • I am particularly fascinated by Haiti’s unique blend of African and Western culture in their food preferences, architecture, and artwork.  Many of Haiti’s artists strive to represent their lifestyles and heritage through a wide variety of mediums.  I included two of my favorite paintings below:

Toussaint Auguste’s “Birds in Nests,”                                                 Andre Normil – “Noah’s Ark”

Toussaint Auguste’s “Birds in Nests,”                                             Andre Normil – “Noah’s Ark”

  • Get the look:  I encourage you to incorporate the beautiful, one-of-a-kind Haitian artwork in your everyday clothing.  Seek nature themed and native-printed sweaters, fringed ponchos, and breezy.   Pacsun is a great mainstream destination for artisan-bohemian winter wear.  I also recommend Modcloth.com, and these looks in particular for inspiration:

3. Daring, yet feminine cocktail dresses.

  • Haitian women are true leaders in their modern society.  Over the recent years, they have really taken a stand for themselves in their country and pushed for their rights.  For instance, after the devastating earthquake struck in 2010, a group of mothers took it upon themselves to establish a new school for the children in their village.  Despite the hardships they face, these moms continue to educate many of these same kids today.
  • Get the look:  Just as the women in Haiti have empowered themselves over the years, you can express your boldness through your personal style.  For instance, you can easily dress up a simple, elegant black dress with a bold, sequined shrug.  Look for traditional designs with one or two unique things about it – for example, ruffles in contrasting colors, animal prints with floral embellishments, or glitter and gold on a ballerina-style dress.

4. Black and White Graphics.

  • American designers are becoming increasingly aware of the rough situation in Haiti.  Many are inspired to reach out to the earthquake victims and promote charity in their fashion lines.  For instance, Donna Karan has introduced a Haitian-inspired collection with neutral-colored, tribal-printed textile designs that symbolize Haitian artwork.
  • Get the look:  Seek out loose, comfortable sweaters and shirts with asymmetrical necklines.  For a more business-friendly look, spice up only one piece of your outfit. Don a printed pencil skirt or mix a funky blouse with sleek black slacks and a blazer.

5. Fashion for charity

  • Finally, you know we couldn’t talk about fashion without mentioning fashion that helps Haiti! Last week we told you about an amazing charity called Haitian Creations. Not only do they have amazing bags and jewelry you can purchase but they also promote sustainability with the community and Haitian women.
  • Get the look: Go to http://www.haitiancreations.com/ and support this amazing charity!

If you have any questions or need advice on fashion styling, feel free to email me at ericalin.dresseforhaiti@gmail.com.

Until next time,



Kafou: Haiti, Art & Vodou

We want to take the time to recognize an awesome representation of Haitian art at its best. From October 20th, 2013 until January 6th, 2013 a beautiful exhibition filled with Haitian history  and culture will be available for all to … Continue reading