Words of Wisdom from Benson, a Haitian Leather Artisan
January 15, 2019
Straight from the streets of Haiti – This story demonstrates why
we at Mango and Moose support Fair Trade and believe in ethical business as a
way to move our world and people forward through restored hope and dignified
It is our privilege to share this story from one of our Haitian
The dialogue is between MK, the founder and director of the
cooperative, and Benson, the amazing Artisan who worked tirelessly to make our
entire Mango and
Moose Natural and Black Leather Tote collection.
MK: One day a few years ago, I was traveling with Benson to Port Au Prince in the car. I came to love these one-on-one times in the car with this young brilliant person. First he sleeps for an hour, but after that I can count on him for some great conversation. Now I’ve gotten to where I will pull out my phone and hit record when he starts talking.
One day we were driving along and he said to me:
BENSON: “MK, do you know how to keep poor people poor?”
MK: “No, Benson, I can’t say that I have ever thought about that. How do you keep poor people poor?”
BENSON: “Give them everything they need.”
MK (thinking):What? Where is he going with this?
BENSON: “Give them food and clothes and houses. Give it to them and never ask them to do anything for it. That way they never develop their own capacity. That way they never grow and they will always need you. They will stay dependent on others and remain poor.”
MK (thinking): Sure wish I was recording this right now, but
if I pull over and turn on my recorder he will likely stop talking so freely.
BENSON: “If you had come to Jubilee and met me and saw me as a young man from a poor family with many children, and you had begun to bring clothes and food to our house, instead of seeing me as a young man who has skills and is intelligent with great capacity, where would I be today? Where would I be today, he asked again before answering. I would not know my capacity to build a company and make beautiful products. I would not be who I am today – a leader in my community and a provider for my family.”
MK (thinking):How could I have not seen him that way? I
wonder how many other Bensons there are within clear view in our everyday lives.
How many people with great capacity do we not see every day?
Visiting with him yesterday in his workshop and seeing the new
space he is building now to double the size of his space once again, I am in
I admit that sometimes his faith and optimism are so much bigger
than mine that he makes me a little crazy. He preaches faith to me! When I am
looking at the bank account, he is looking at the faithful record of God.
I will always count it as one of my life’s greatest honours to
call this young man a friend.
There is so much more I could say about him. I could tell you
the ways he is mentoring other entrepreneurs and raising up leaders in his
community. I could tell you the smart ways he is investing in his own company
and bringing local investors together to invest in other start-ups.
He and those like him are real change makers, this I know.