Vida Plena update by Josh Porter, Director
Having Luke, Whitney, and Rusty from MudLOVE and BelKai here in February was amazing! There was a ton of training followed by a mountain of questions. As professional entrepreneurs and artisans, Luke and Whitney never hesitated in their responses knowing exactly what to say drawing from their extensive personal experience with their clay and resin designs.
Then they left us.
The next day I looked at the women we had just trained to carefully handcraft these beautiful pieces and was simultaneously excited to see them thrive with their newly acquired skills and also terrified we wouldn’t be able to pull it off without the depth of knowledge and training experience that Luke and Whitney brought to the table.
Our 2 months of work after the training sessions have not always been pretty, easy, and smooth, BUT we are learning and improving together as a team. There’s been something like a battle-hardening among us, a strengthening our friendships, and a building of confidence in what we can do. Most of the women learning and working with us in the Vida Plena program have not had the opportunity to learn how to persist, to struggle or fall down and get back up again. This is such an important process that most of us were taught by our parents and take for granted.
I want to say we’re over the hump. We’re creating training documents in English, Spanish, and Haitian creole loaded with pictures. We’re implementing systems to ensure a high-quality product, and have identified women who have talent in a particular process. It feels like we’re approaching a routine in which every woman can confidently come to work knowing what she’s going to do, and that she’s actually really good at it.
It’s been fun watching them develop pride and ownership as artisans. Every now and then we show them an Instagram or Facebook post, or the new MudLOVE or BelKai website where their eyes feast on the elegant presentations of their work. They stare in disbelief knowing these exact pieces passed through their hands, and someone from AMERICA will be buying it! If you’re an artisan you know that joy and satisfaction.
The women walk the 2 miles to work together as a family. They’re usually holding hands or fixing one another’s hair on the way from Monte Verde. After their daily song and a prayer, work begins. We have MudLOVE and BelKai to thank for the sounds and sights here. We hear the strumming of fingers picking cotton threads as they weave the Vionas, the squeak of the clay stamping jigs, and the electrical relay clicking in the kiln. We see all the colors of the rainbow in liquid form flowing carefully into rings, charms, necklaces, and earrings.
On behalf of the whole team here and their families, we want to extend our gratitude to all of you purchasing the unique and beautiful pieces designed and made by MudLOVE and BelKai resting assured they are true to their mission to serve others in LOVE.