Haiti is full of talented and innovative artists who often just lack the appropriate channels for advertising and selling their work. Recognizing this gap, a few Haiti Communitere volunteers decided to start working with local Haitian artisans to sell their products at the Haiti Communitere base. Many of our volunteers are only in Haiti for a short period of time and don’t get a chance to go out and shop for souvenirs, and our artisan program allows them to bring unique Haitian art home with them. We work closely with potential artisans to ensure that their products are built responsibly and ethically before they are sold in the Haiti Communitere shop.
One of our most recent additions to the Haiti Communitere store and also one of our most popular products are Tchaka Haiti bags. Tchaka is a traditional Haitian African food prepared by mixing many kinds of vegetables. Like Tchaka food, Tchaka Haiti products are made by mixing many colors and materials. Founded by Polene Felix, Tchaka uses various recycled plastics, such as bags from potato chips, recycled tire wrappers, inner tube wrappers and reconstituted fabrics. The products – ranging in size from coin purses to large bags for shopping – are woven and sewn by local men and women who are paid a living wage. Each bag, depending on its size, is made up of 6 to 35 wrappers that once littered the streets.
In addition to Tchaka bags, the store at Haiti Communitere sells products from several other artisans from around Port-au-Prince and Jacmel, including paper mache vases and bowls, woven baskets, and paper bead jewelry.