As you’re walking through the Hotel Terra lobby be sure to keep an eye out for a display rack with beautiful and comfy blankets for sale. Between the elevators and the front desk, we devoted space to these one-of-a-kind blankets. Made by-hand by mothers in Haiti, the Haiti Babi blankets boast an intriguing backstory.
In recent memory, the Caribbean country of Haiti has been marred by political tumult, economic strife, and devastating natural disasters—like tropical Storm Jeanne in 2004 and the magnitude-7.0 earthquake in 2010. As a result, the country has been in a incessant state of rebuilding. One tragic part of the instability in Haiti has been the breakup of families. Haitian mothers have been forced to put their young children into orphanages because of economic reasons, not because they don’t want their children or to keep their family. Enter Haiti Babi, a Seattle-based non-profit created “to keep kids out of orphanages and with their parents.” In short, Haiti Babi empowers Haitian mothers by providing knitting and crocheting jobs, giving these mothers the financial stability to keep their families together.
“At Hotel Terra, we are always asking ourselves, ‘How do we reach beyond the hotel’s wall? How do we make an impact that resonates past our building?'” says Caitlin Keys, Director of Owner Relations / Property Manager at Hotel Terra. So, when Keys and Shelley Holland, co-owner of Hotel Terra, learned about the Haiti Babi mission, both knew it was an apt opportunity to contribute and help. “I’m not one to shy away from any travel experience,” says Caitlin Keys. “And this trip was a great opportunity to help and contribute beyond our property.”
For Keys and Holland, this trip was “two-fold”: equal parts personal experience and adventure combined with a commitment to giving back to the global community. During their week-long trip to Haiti, the Hotel Terra team rolled up their sleeves and worked side-by-side with the mothers in Haiti. “One woman was on the loom every day and the other ladies gathered outside to crochet, part of the two-step process to make the blankets. Shelley and I sewed on the finishing Haiti Babi tag. I have never sewn before and my mother took my girl scout badges to a seamstress, so you can imagine the hilarity of being taught to sew a tag onto a blanket.”
The beautiful part about Haiti Babi is that the non-profit’s success is contingent on “moms helping moms.” A mother in Jackson Hole has the ability to buy a blanket and empower a mother in Port-au-Prince. Every mother should have the opportunity to care for her child and work to support her family, and Haiti Babi enables that to happen. “Haiti Babi is a hand up, not a handout. When a mom works at Haiti Babi, she doesn’t just earn a paycheck; she also rebuilds her self-esteem, and shows her children that they can break the cycle of poverty. Our moms’ determination is our inspiration.”
“These women making the blankets in Haiti have had their lives positively changed by Haiti Babi,” says Caitlin Keys. “It was such an incredible experience to go down there to help. We wanted to create a retail partnership at Hotel Terra to share their stories and struggles, and help make a difference.”
So, when you see the artisan hand-sewn blankets in the Hotel Terra lobby trust that there is a rich story behind the blanket.
For more information about Haiti Babi, visit www.haitibabi.org.