Who We’re Helping – The Women of OFEDA
There is a group of women in Haiti, near Port Au Prince, located in a government-owned tent camp whose lives were torn apart in January 2010 after the country’s disastrous earthquake. The tent camp was erected behind a school and still stands today with more than 200 families making this place home. There is no electricity and no running water. Women who belonged to the tent camp and live nearby decided to come together and form a group.
This unique and independent women’s group is known as OFEDA (Organisation des Femmes Devouees en Action).
The women, who range in age from 18 to 82 years old, came together for the first time in January 2010 soon after the earthquake. They began meeting under a tree in the tent camp to support and encourage each other with hope and possibility.
These women have a dream, and we want to help them achieve it.
By starting businesses together (their first being a handmade greeting card company), they hope to find a way out of the tent camps to reclaim their lives and to continue moving forward with dignity and security.
Paula Allen, a social documentary photographer based in New York, traveled to Haiti after the hurricane in 2010 where she met the women of OFEDA. Paula Allen initiated the first business with the OFEDA women – a greeting card company. She has extensive experience traveling to Haiti and her first trip there was to cover the earthquake as a professional photographer. It was then that she met this special group of women who she is now helping to empower.
A member of the group, Carmen, told Paula of her dream to make beauty products. She had attempted to make soap before but was having all kinds of issues and was just not being successful.
Paula then set out to find the perfect teachers to teach the women how to make soap and also help set up a business.
Paula did an internet search for “natural beauty products” and came upon Marla Bosworth. Paula reached out to Marla and simply asked her if she would be interested in coming to Haiti to teach. Marla answered, “YES!”
Marla put a call out to the soap making community to see if anybody else would be interested. Amanda Griffin immediately responded with a strong, “YES!” Amanda teaches classes in New York with Marla and had taught with Marla at conferences. They were the perfect match for this project!
Paula and Marla both live in New York so were able to meet and talk about the project. Amanda joined them on Skype and plans were made.
Our first workshop in Haiti was on January 12, 2013 – the three year anniversary of the earthquake.