About H-earings for Haiti
Hi. I'm Carol Clark, the creator of H-earings for Haiti. The mission of my project is to raise public awareness of the ongoing devastating poverty affecting our closest southern neighbors in Haiti, and to raise money to support respected organizations providing assistance to better the lives of Haiti's most vulnerable citizens.
The products sold to raise money are hand-crafted earrings, each pair a unique design. They are called "H-earings" because they are more than just earrings...they are made "for ears that hear the cry of the poor." It is my hope that those who purchase these earrings will want to find out more about the work this project supports, and that is what this website is all about. I hope you find it informative and inspiring.
Currently there are no H-earings for sale online, but they may become available to purchase here in the future. In the mean time, please take time to explore the stories and photos I've posted here. May your ears become a little more open to the cry of the poor.
Thanks for stopping by!
How It All Began...
How did 9 days in Haiti plant a seed of compassion which eventually led to the birth of the H-earings project?
It started with a life-changing mission trip to Haiti in 2009.
Click here for Carol's Photo Journal of her trip to Haiti (please be patient... this file loads very slowly.)
Then in 2011, I was interviewed by Harvest Magazine . The writer did a better job than I ever could of telling the story of the birth of H- earings.
"H-earing Haiti's Cry"
by Lois Czerniak, editor of Harvest Magazine
Stirred by a baby’s cry, inspired by a grain of rice, Carol Clark sits in the hallway outside St. Mary’s Health System’s Haiti Marketplace, part of the hospital’s annual Mission Week celebration. Displayed before her are containers brimming withH-earing Haiti’s cry
beads in an array of shades and colors – teals and turquoises, pearl whites and poppy reds. Passersby pick out their favorites, and in several minutes time, Carol shapes them into a pair of custom-made earrings. The cost is low – just $5 – but Carol doesn’t pocket any of it. She sends all the money to the people of Haiti.
“What I’m doing is small, but gosh, it adds up. That’s the way I look at it.”
Carol’s connection to Haiti dates back to 2003 when she attended a concert by the contemporary Christian band Big Daddy Weave. The concert was a promotional event for a Christian child advocacy group called Compassion International, and during a break, audience members were given the opportunity to sponsor a child through the group. Carol and her husband raised their hands.
“Our little girl’s name is Paulonne, and she’s from Haiti,” says Carol, proudly pointing to Paulonne’s picture, which is displayed in her home. “She’s 13 now. She was six at the time.”
Three years later, still sponsoring Paulonne, Carol would hear about Haiti again, this time through her new job as a pharmacy technician at St. Mary’s in Lewiston. During orientation, she learned of the Health System’s support for St. Boniface Hospital in Fond des Blancs and Pwoje Espwa (Project Hope), a ministry to Haitian children founded by Father Marc Boisvert, a Lewiston native.
Carol took notice. “In my walk of faith, I kind of learned to pay attention to things.
God’s at work all the time, and you sort of just look for things, and certainly this double connection to Haiti was raising my eyebrow.”
St. Mary’s sponsors an annual mission trip to Haiti, and in 2009, Carol signed up. It would be a trip that would move her to tears and lead her to action.
“We got to see a lot of what’s going on, what the St. Boniface Foundation is doing in that region of Haiti. We interacted with the people. We got to experience the culture and the lifestyle,” she says.
“I was really moved by the history of the involvement of the St. Boniface Foundation in Haiti. I mean, they’ve been living there with the people, not just dropping in and giving them stuff. They’ve made their home there, and they walk alongside and are highly respected by the people.”
Two things in particular struck Carol during that trip. Outside the Pwoje Espwa orphanage, she remembers seeing large concrete platforms where farmers had spread out their rice to dry in the sun.
“I’ve never seen so much rice in one place. It just went on and on and on,” she says. “Standing there, looking at this rice, I just had this overwhelming sense from God that I needed to pick up a seed and take it home.”
After asking permission, she took one grain. “I need this seed. This was really, really clear to me that for some reason I needed that seed,” she says. “For me, it was a strong symbol of the power of the seed if it is sown, not hoarded or consumed.”
The second experience was a visit to Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity Home for Children, where the sisters care for infants and children, some of them orphans but many of them brought there by parents who know they don’t have the resources to care for them.
“We spent about two hours with them at feeding time, and that was a really powerful, sad time because there was a lot of crying in that room that was not going to be soothed.”
In her journal, Carol wrote about each of the seven children she held in her arms. They included Cesar who was too frail to eat the food given to him, Lucinica who had a herniated bellybutton, the result of malnutrition that had weakened her abdominal muscles, and Naugus, whom she called her little angel.
“It was like holding a skeleton. I could feel the struggle to survive, and I wasn’t sure he would pull through. I placed him in God’s hands,” wrote Carol.
“It was hard to walk away from these desperate little children so hungry for love and care. I wrote down all their names, my seven little friends, put them all in God’s hands. I’ll never forget the feeling of those bony little bodies in my arms. No child should suffer in this way. They are the innocent victims of the poverty in Haiti.”
She says, while she heard the chorus of babies crying, one phrase came into her head: “The Lord hears the cry of the poor. Blessed be the Lord.”
She penned this prayer: “Lord, break my heart with the things that make your heart break. Don’t let me become desensitized. Don’t let my ears go deaf to the cry of your precious little ones.”
When she returned home, Carol knew she must find a way to respond to the cry of Haiti’s poor.
“It was, OK, I don’t want this to become a photo album on the shelf, on to the next thing,” she says. “The most important thing for me, at that time, was to raise awareness, because this was before the earthquake.”
Carol wrote about her experiences and shared them with several groups at the hospital, but she wanted to do more. Looking for something to contribute to St. Mary’s Mission Week, she came up with the idea of crafting earrings, which she had previously learned how to make.
“All this kind of connected, the whole hearing the cry of the poor; the Lord hears the cry of the poor, and then just the words of Jesus from the Gospel, over and over: ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear. He who has ears to hear, let him hear’” (Mark 4:9).
She called the earrings “H-earings for Haiti,” made for ears that hear the cry of the poor. “At first, I thought it was corny. I thought everybody was going to think, ‘Oh that’s so corny, Carol.’ But I threw it out there, and people didn’t think it was corny. People thought it was good.”
That first Mission Week, she made 50 pairs of earrings and sold all but four in one day. “People started coming and trying to find me in the hospital and saying, ‘Where can I get more of those earrings.’”
They became a featured item in the hospital’s gift shop and are also featured at the Joyful Hope Gift Shop in Auburn. Neither makes any money from the sales, something essential to Carol. “I’m looking for people who get it, who have the ears to hear,” she says.
Carol has now also started offering awareness and fund-raising parties, modeled after Tupperware parties. She visits homes, shares her experiences in Haiti and teaches small groups how to make the earrings. She says the goal of the parties is threefold. She uses donations from them to purchase supplies. She invites participants to stay involved by continuing to make “H-earings for Haiti.” And she uses the opportunity to educate people about Haiti’s plight, something she also does on her website and her Facebook page.
“I think people get a great deal of satisfaction just in doing something, being part of something that’s helping somebody else,” she says.
Carol knows the money she is raising won’t come close to solving the problems facing Haiti, but she is determined not to give up. “I can stop and think, well, what good does five dollars for a pair of earrings do? But you have to just keep doing it,” she says. “No one person can fix it. I just have to keep doing what I can do.”
Carol says when she looks at her beads she remembers that one grain of rice. Although she no longer physically has it, she says that’s how it should be because seeds are meant to be planted.
“God gives seeds to the sower,” she says. “I picked up one seed that day, and now I look at my beads, which rather resemble seeds, and it’s, like, oh yeah, I guess they have multiplied a bit haven’t they?”
Since this article was published, Carol has returned to Haiti to visit an orphanage in Port-au-Prince, "Wayom Timoun," which means "Kingdom of Kids." Learn more about it on the Missions Page.
Exlplore More on the Missioins Page
Click Here to Learn about these wonderful non-profit organizations working to raise the dignity and well being of the people of Haiti.