Her baby was at her breast, but she pushed him away and handed him over. Poverty had finally won, and she was forced to leave her newborn son. He began to cry, and the orphanage director whisked him away before the mother had second thoughts. She hung her head and a tear dripped vertically onto the pavement below. One of the most defining parts of being a woman is that she has the ability to become a mother. But today, that privilege was being stripped away. The right to raise her son was lost.
When our founder Shelley Jean first went to Haiti with the hopes of adopting a child, she was astounded to find that most children who were in orphanages were not true orphans, but rather sons and daughters of heartbroken mothers. She wondered if given the means to do so they might be able to keep their children. She felt compelled to do something to help.
Shelley’s heart was stirred to action and nine months after her first steps on Haitian soil, she made Haiti her permanent home for the next decade. Her mission was simple. She was motivated to give mother’s in Haiti the opportunity to keep and raise their children with dignity. Shelley started small with a handful of women making handicrafts and selling those items to her friends on Facebook. Today she runs a fair-trade artisan company that employs more than 140 mothers who are empowered with the opportunity of a job. They can now keep their kids, send them to school, feed and clothe them like any mother would want to do.
This International Women’s Day, we honor the pain of the mothers in Haiti and all over the world who have endured separation from their children because of poverty. At Papillon we will never give up the fight to be a voice for women and mothers. It is our mandate and our mission.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the right time, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9