Update on Haiti
After our last blog on Haiti (if you have not read it, you can read it here) we have been receiving messages asking for an update on our artists, about regular items that we don’t have in stock, or even interest in custom work. I’ve been holding off on giving an update on Haiti hoping to have some great news, but unfortunately, that has not fully been the case. Some of our orders have been on back order, and custom work is out of the question. For this reason, I decided to share what we have heard from our artists and some of the messages we have been receiving directly from them in Haiti.
In few words, the situation has not improved in Haiti. Two things that our artists mention often are the direct and indirect effects of violence. For example, due to the continued violence, the materials necessary for our artists are becoming scarcer, which not only makes the materials harder to find, but also more expensive. When it comes to finding the materials, this is what one of our artists had to say:
“When it comes to next Jobs Chief, I am becoming anxious because ther are often shooting in croix des bouquets which makes us worried to move around for materials and check over our workers. Also the materials are expensive and not easy to find, the guys once they paid upfront one person for materials and still can't have them, some of them refuse to pay another person again. At last, I am not sure about the situation in croix des bouquets, we are becoming more and more anxious...I am afraid that in future if it continues to be like this, that some artists would go too far in countryside and with their payment and refuse to come back for too long.”
But the effect is not just on cost of goods, but it also directly affects their safety. Our artists are hard-working, family, and community men, who work to provide for their families. It is no surprise that the current situation in Haiti makes many of them worried, especially when violence affects their workplace. This is one of the situations that recently affected one of our artist’s workshops:
“Hi Chief, one of Vitelhom guys attacked one of our working spot this morning, he took 2 phones and a policeman was nearby and shot on him but could not be hit.
When I was about to go there, the passersby told me there are shootings right now. I am trying to get in touch with those guys. That might cause a problem for the shipping date. I will know when I can contact or see the guys, but that guy would probably bring more people with him.”
However, the violence has not ended there. For example, we started working with a new artist, Rolando Jeudy. He sent over pictures of samples of his work. I immediately fell in love with some of it and sent payment so we could receive these items. This was back in December prior to the holidays. However, the very next day, we received the following message from one of our artists:
“Rolando Jeudy has been just victim tonight on his way back from an Art Fair in Karibe Hotel, he was touched but bullets in the car in tabarre. I was just asking, he's in oxygen now...I will hand the job to his father. Many of us were there, but I did not go. My mind did not tell me. There were shootings on the road when the guys were coming back.”
Messages like these are so heartbreaking. Knowing what our beloved business partners, artists, and friends are going through is heart breaking. Thankfully, the one good thing that can be said is that Rolando is doing so much better. He is out of the hospital, doing well, back home and working. It’s funny because when we asked him what he would like our customers to know about him, he didn’t mention any of this. He said:
“I am an artist. I have my own sculpture store which name is “Original shop”. I have been working for 5 years. I have been working since 2018, I was 19 years old. I am a good artist whom you can trust. Now I learned it by myself , because where I live people live on it, my father tought me how to work metal, he really help me with working them , I saw how he did it and I copy them , and now I’m a professional metal worker, and his works are my inspiration.”
Even with all of the problems, our artists have continued to work. They are working hard to provide a better future for themselves and their families. They have not allowed for all of these issues to stop them, and the resilience that Haitians are known for has shown again. They just want to have the ability to provide for themselves, their families, and make their communities better and safer. I am happy to say that thanks to your continued support, we at It’s Cactus have continued to support these artists by continuing to place orders knowing that we will receive them even if it takes a little longer.
Rolando Jeudy's Work:
For a video of Rolando Jeudy working on his current art, check out this video on Instagram.