Ambassador Travel Journal: Better Together in Haiti
Allison Phillips is a Noonday Ambassador who traveled to Haiti in April as part of Noonday’s first Haiti Ambassador Trip. She has been married to Brandon for 21 years and is mom to 3 tween/teens. She’s a former elementary school teacher currently pursuing her Master’s in Pastoral Counseling. Allison is passionate about helping women walk in freedom and find hope–and today on Flourish, she shares her experiences traveling to Haiti and witnessing firsthand what happens when women show up for each other.
Struggling to Find the Words
I’m all about transparency, so I’m going to be completely honest. I didn’t see this coming.
Yes, I was eager to travel to Haiti and visit this country that had, sadly, experienced so much loss and devastation.
Yes, I expected to meet our Artisan Partners and hopefully encourage them.
Yes, I knew I would meet some new Ambassador sisters and get to spend time with those I had previously met.
However, I never expected to be so completely overwhelmed, in the best way, by my time in Haiti that I would struggle to find the words to do it justice.
I never expected to feel such a deep connection to Haiti and feel so inspired by the beautiful people who call it home.
I never expected to feel such a heavy weight of representing this country well in all its beauty and complexity.
I never expected that such a safe space would be created by my Ambassador sisterfriends that we would be able to not only laugh together but we’d pour our hearts out to each other, cry together, encourage each other and pray together.
But, all of these things happened. And, I am completely grateful.
Men Anpil, Chay Pa Lou
On our last night in Haiti, we gathered and circled up on the beach, both Artisan Partners and Ambassadors, to share what our time together had taught us. When it was my turn, I was so overcome with emotion that adequate words seemed to escape me.
However, the beauty I saw in that circle did not. Chandler, who leads our Artisan Business Partners along with her husband, Josh, made the comment that we were a beautiful picture of the old Haitian proverb, “Men Anpil, Chay Pa Lou.” This had become their workshop’s motto. It means, “Many Hands Make the Load Light.” Similar to one of Noonday’s mottos, “Better Together,” it speaks to the power of community.
And I’m so thankful that we were able to experience a bit of that community during our time in Haiti…not only within our Ambassador group, but among our Artisan Partners as well.
Making the Load Lighter
I learned so much by listening to Chandler share her vision for their company and, more importantly, her heart for the Artisans they employ. She told us how grateful they were for their partnership with Noonday because, in her words, Noonday “cares about the lives and families of our Artisans” and has become more like a family. Chandler’s biggest dream was that their Haitian family and their American family (the Ambassadors, Hostesses, and customers) could partner together and “make the load lighter” for each other.
Along the way, Chandler and her partners have learned how to work together and which systems worked best—and those are the systems they want to use to train their leaders. She saw that the need was so great in Haiti, and she knew they were not going to be able to provide jobs for everybody. However, she knew if they could provide quality, holistic employment that addressed all the areas where people were struggling, their employees would take that support and pass it on to their families and communities. Little by little.
The Opportunity to Dream
I’m so grateful that during our visit, Artisans like Michele-Ange, Fabienne, Faby and others shared not only their roles at the workshop but shared their stories and their dreams with us, too. And, even more so, I’m thankful that because they have dignified jobs, they have the luxury of being able to dream. Chandler reminded us during our visit to the workshop that the opportunity to dream of more is a gift we are given when our initial needs are met. And, until that moment, I’m sad to admit, it is a gift I had taken for granted.
Our Noonday Collection Ambassador Manifesto contains these lines: “When we look across the globe, we don’t see strangers – we see ourselves. Her dreams matter as much as mine.” I love that I truly believe these words are so true of our tribe of Ambassadors. And, now that I have spent time with our Artisan Partners and know them by name, I am more motivated than ever to invite people to be a part of building a flourishing world in which our sisters and brothers across the globe have the opportunity to dream.
Another very impactful moment for me, was when we, as Ambassadors, were given the opportunity to share with a few of our Artisan Partners how much their partnership means to us. Several of us shared that because of their talent and hard work, we were able to help support our families and fulfill dreams of our own such as running our own businesses, going back to school, and just living more courageously. And, I absolutely loved when Michele-Ange, who is now leading her own group of Artisans in another town and makes our Desert Lariat Necklace, said, “I used to think you were helping me, but now I see we are helping each other.” Yes. Many hands make the load light.
We Are Better Together
In addition to all of this goodness, I left Haiti with a full heart because of the deep connections I made with my fellow Ambassadors. It’s pretty amazing to me that in just a few days, such strong friendships can be formed. Two more lines from our Ambassador Manifesto read like this: “By embracing our vulnerability, we create compassionate spaces of belonging for ourselves and others.” I saw those words come to life during several conversations in Haiti. Conversations that I will never forget and that will forever connect me to the sisters with whom I shared them.
And, I know that so many more of those connections were being made within our group. We ALL belong. No matter who we are. No matter where we live. We ALL matter. And we need to fight for each other. I’m so thankful that my time in Haiti not only surprised me in the best way possible, but it reminded me of all of these truths and left me wanting to invite more people into the beautiful work that Noonday Collection is doing. What joy it brings to be able to use the gifts we have been given to make the load lighter for someone else.
“Men Anpil, Chay Pa Lou.” We are better together.
Photo Credit: Awbree Caton, Elizabeth Bricknell, Shari Meyering and Others
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Meet Allison Phillips
Allison Phillips has been married to Brandon for 21 years and is mom to 3 tween/teens. She's a former elementary school teacher currently pursuing her Master's in Pastoral Counseling. She has been a Noonday Ambassador for almost two years and is passionate about helping women walk in freedom and find hope.