contact us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

Name *
Name

9170 East Bahia Drive #103B
Scottsdale, AZ, 85260
United States

4806597625

ila joi is a faith-based, hand-crafted jewelry and accessories brand that is committed to empowering Haitian women to realize their God given talents in order to earn a sustainable income to provide for their families. Created by Hope. Powered by Prayer.

IMG_1115.JPG

Blog

Welcome to our blog! Read about the lovely artisans who make our jewelry! 

 

JR - guest post by Claire Roney

Chances for Children

IMG_2084.jpg

I was a journalism and global politics major in college, which means I know how to interview people, aggregate facts and details from a variety of sources, and write a story.

This isn’t that kind of story. This is a conversation with one man telling me things that trouble him about his country and his people.

Jean Robert (JR) was our driver, protector, travel guide and all around go-to guy in Haiti. 

Need to buy something and don’t know Creole? Ask JR.

Want to know what city we’re in and what it’s known for? Ask JR.

Not sure what kind of bite on your arm that is? Ask JR.

JR is, quite literally, the man.

He knew I was the blogger on the trip, and when he realized that I would be publicizing my writing about the trip he had some questions.

“Did you know about Haiti before you came here? Like, what they say on the news? What do you think about it now? What are you going to tell people?”

If you’ve read my previous two posts, you know how I felt before going on the trip and you know one of the most powerful impressions that was made one me during my first day in Haiti.

The things you haven’t seen me write about yet are how I fell in love with Haiti, or what I love about Haiti.

Its people are intoxicatingly fun. The weather is wonderful. The place is teeming with life. Despite the harsh realities of living in a location that has been so brutally barraged by mother nature, it is a place I would love to visit again.

JR wants that too. He wants more people to visit: to go to Haiti and see his beautiful country and meet his beautiful people. He wants to see his country grow.

And that’s why he asked me to write about some of the things that trouble him. So, ladies and gentlemen, here are some of JR’s thoughts.

On jobs

We need jobs in Haiti. If you look around my country, you can see for yourself that that is what will make people better.

It’s hard to get a job in Haiti, because we don’t have government assistance programs. Every business that you see here is pretty much private. Someone just set up a shop with items they wanted to sell, created the price and started selling. Nobody is going to regulate this.

If someone did want to get hired by a legitimate business, the government would just find a way to control that person.

I think we need more people to invest money here in Haiti: to bring jobs and businesses with them. Most Haitians leave the country to study abroad, but they don’t come back to work here because there are no jobs for them. If there were they would stay. If you study in Haiti, you don’t know if there will be a job when you finish.

On the government

People can go to vote for an election, but it’s not really a choice. It’s the same thing all the time.

The rich just want to stay rich. And the rich got wealthy when they received the aid shipments coming in after the earthquake and the hurricane.The rich want to keep the poor people poor. There’s no community effort. Right now you can’t ask people to vote, because most of them don’t understand how to vote.

On his people

Haiti is a country like any other country. We might not have money or nice houses, but we’re still a people and we think about doing good things. We know if we have the possibility to do what we can to make our home better, to finance what we can, we will do it.

People might never come to visit my country because of what the news says. Maybe people who do visit are not explaining how beautiful our country is when they go home. I, and my people, want others to come. We love visitors.

“I am a big man in a small body. If I can take the opportunity to lead and show people how Haiti is beautiful, I’ll take it. I have so many ideas, but I can only do so much.” - JR

First Day Impressions by Claire Roney

Chances for Children

 Kenscoff, Haiti

Kenscoff, Haiti

t’s been almost a week since I returned from Haiti to sunny California, and I’ve struggled repeatedly to write about the trip because there were so many wonderful impressions it left with me. 

Before the trip, I thought I would use these blog posts to bring awareness to Haiti and the Ila Joi program. I still plan to do that, but I also want to call attention to the other programs Chances for Children implements, and what those meant to me. 

I want to take time to talk about the things that broke my heart on this trip, as well as the things that mended and lifted it. 

Which brings me to my first story about the crêche.

It was our first day in Haiti and we had just arrived in Kenskoff after two flights and an arduous two-hour drive up into the mountains. We dropped our bags onto the guesthouse floor, and were told we had time to play with the crêche kids before dinner. 

The crêche run by Chances for Children is not an orphanage per se, but it is home to about 40 children in various stages of the adoption process, which unfortunately includes some orphans.
I had never been to an orphanage or an establishment like this before, but I felt happy to meet more people and excited to play with the kids. When we got to the crêche and saw the children, everyone drifted over to them seamlessly asking things in Creole like, “Kijan ou ye,” or saying, “Hello,” with a simple wave of the hand. I went with a small group of people upstairs to visit the babies. 

About six infants slept or sat quietly in their cribs. I watched my team members unabashedly go up to the children, pick them up and hold them all while I stood frozen in my place. 

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to hold these babies, or that I didn’t want to give them my love and attention. I wanted to do just that. I wanted to make them smile and laugh, and to hold them. But, it felt wrong to me. I didn’t feel okay picking up one of these children knowing that I was going to have to put him or her back down. I didn’t want to give my love and comfort, only to have to take it away. And I didn’t want the children to watch me leave.

So as I glanced around the room observing my teammates interact with these infants, I saw a baby girl staring at me.

L (for short) is little more than one year old, and at the time she had a cold. She was on a lower crib, so I bent down to hold her hand. It was so small in my hand, but much warmer than mine. 

After a few moments, I felt overwhelmed by a sadness I couldn’t understand and instinctively stood to leave, but as I straightened L tried to stand in her crib and reached for me. 

I panicked and picked her up afraid she would fall, but then immediately gave her to someone else to hold and left the room. 

Since that moment, I’ve regretted not being able to set aside my sadness to give L the love and attention she wanted from me. I can’t take that back, but I have researched other ways I can help her, like sponsoring her. 

Chances for Children has an orphan care sponsorship program. Sponsoring a child will give him or her two hot meals a day and clean water, a home, a bed to sleep in, medical care, education and clothing. Another way of putting it, for $1 a day I can be ‘present’ in L’s life and keep her healthy and happy. 

There are ways to help the children indirectly, like sponsoring one of the nonprofit’s other programs: the medical clinic, feeding program or women’s empowerment program. You can also organize your own trip to Haiti through the nonprofit and bring donations with you. Or, send items to the nonprofit to send safely to Haiti.

Whatever the method and however much, everything helps. There is no shortage of love or gratitude in Haiti. These programs are in place because they are entirely necessary, and I hope that the more I write about this trip the more you feel compelled to take part in lifting this vibrant  place and its beautiful people up.

 Danny and little L at the crêche.

Danny and little L at the crêche.

7 Days and Counting- Guest post by Claire Roney

Karyn Abbott

What do you think of when you hear someone say, “Haiti?”

If you tuned into the news during the last couple of months, there is probably one word that comes to your mind rather quickly (courtesy of our commander in chief).

Aside from that offensive adjective, you might think of the 2010 earthquake, or cholera and drought. Maybe you think of Caribbean blue waters and bright colors. These are all things that come to my mind.

If you know me, you know I love to travel to new places. Whether that means camping in a new place or buying a random round-trip flight overseas, I travel purely for the adventure and the chance to expand the boundaries of my personal comfort zone. Meeting new people and experiencing different cultures are some of my greatest joys in life.

Haiti is one of the few countries that had not made it onto my ‘Travel List,’ until I became a brand ambassador last spring for the Haitian jewelry business Ila Joi.

Ila Joi began in the months following the 2010 earthquake, when three Haitian mothers sat under a tent using paper scraps and debris to craft jewelry. Their hope was to sell their items to feed their children and eventually rebuild their lives.

As a brand ambassador, it was and is my responsibility to facilitate the growth of Ila Joi through social media and other multimedia projects.

During these months, I grew to know the artisans through their craftsmanship. Marjorie often incorporates twine and rope in her jewelry. Darline designs a variety of brightly colored bracelets in intense shades of bright orange, yellow, pink, green and blue. And each bracelet comes with a prayer that the artisans chose as a personal message of gratitude.

I had hoped to meet these artisans someday to tell them that their efforts are inspiring and I admire their strength as women, mothers and artists. Fast forward one year and I am less than two weeks away from embarking on a trip to meet all of the Ila Joi artisans, and I could not be happier.

But, my friends and family feel completely opposite.

Over the last six months, everyone I know has asked me the same question: “Why would you even want to go to Haiti?” 

It’s a valid question. There are many reasons why the average person doesn’t want to go to Haiti.

One reason is that Haiti continues to suffer from the devastation of the 2010 earthquake.

The disaster occurred over eight years ago on January 12 with a 7.1 magnitude affecting Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The estimated death toll was between 220,000 - 300,000 people with an estimated 300,000 people injured. About 1.5 million people were displaced as a result of the disaster. Also during this time, Haiti suffered a cholera outbreak brought by U.N. aid workers that killed more than 10,000 people.

Despite the years since 2010 and the $13.34 billion promised aid and relief to the country until 2020, Haiti remains one of the poorest countries in the Americas and the world.

About 59 percent of Haitians live under the national poverty line ($2.41 US Dollars), according to the World Bank. A 2017 United Nations report stated that 2.5 million Haitians were still in need of aid and recovery following the earthquake and the effects of a three-year drought exacerbated by El Niño in 2015, and a Category 4 hurricane that killed more than 400 people.

Couple these natural disasters with the most recent news headings of Oxfam’s sexual exploitations in Haiti and the famous Iron Market being destroyed by a fire, and it simply does not seem like a good place to go.

I do want to go. Here’s why:

Haitian History

Haiti was the first independent black republic. A slave nation first colonized by the Spanish and then French, the slaves revolted and defeated Napoleon’s army. Haiti would declare its independence formally in 1804.

Immersion in the Haitian Culture

Haitians share a rich diversity of African, French and Spanish elements with Caribbean influences. This will be my first trip to the Caribbean, and I’m excited to experience the vibrancy of this culture.

Haitian People

Haitians have demonstrated incredible resilience, and I hope to learn more about this strength during my trip. Despite the negative stigma surrounding the nation and its people, the natural disasters, the political turmoil and the recent snub by our president, the people have withstood the damage and continued to rebuild.

Ila Joi

Ila Joi’ means ‘from the island rejoicing. The organization currently has 28 women and men crafting jewelry through the nonprofit Chances for Children. With each purchase made, 55 percent of the sale goes directly back to the artisan in the form of a paycheck, 30 percent is directed towards the purchase of supplies for the jewelry and 15 percent is set aside in a savings account for each artisan. It is the nonprofit’s goal to assist each of these artisans in creating a sustainable income for themselves and to support their families, as well as to create a savings account that empowers and enables these artisans to pursue an education and a career.

I am incredibly proud to be a brand ambassador for Ila Joi, and even happier to be a part of this trip. This is the first of six blog posts to come in the following month, and I hope that I have set the tone for what will no doubt be an adventure. I hope that over the course of these posts I can alter, if not altogether change, the negative perceptions surrounding Haiti and its people. I also hope that I can inspire some of you to test the boundaries of your personal comfort zone, and perhaps travel there for yourself someday.

Resrouces
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ha.html
http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/haiti/overview#1
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-37582009
http://interactive.unocha.org/publication/2017_appeal/#p=29
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/haiti-earthquakeanniversary_us_5875108de4b02b5f858b3f9c
https://www.wfp.org/news/news-release/el-nino-drought-blamed-severe-food-insecurity-doubles-6-months-haiti
https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-examines-global-impacts-of-the-2015-el-ni-o