One does not take a trip to Haiti lightly, especially when the itinerary includes volunteering for 10 days at an orphanage. But all the bracing in the world could not prepare 28-year-old Katlin Jackson for the impact of her 2011 trip—an intensely complicated and emotional experience that moved her beyond outraged intention to direct action.
After realizing that many children in Haiti’s orphanages have families that are just too poor to keep them, Jackson, a commercial real estate development adviser, launched Haiti Babi last April. Funded solely by donations and staffed entirely by volunteers, the nonprofit teaches Haitian mothers how to knit and crochet—skills they can continue to use even if Haiti Babi were to disappear—and brings their products to market in the United States. In exchange, Haiti Babi pays them enough to cover food, housing and education for their children.
The products at the heart of Haiti Babi are stylish, modern baby blankets ($72), made from soft, washable Pima cotton from Tukwila-based Cascade Yarns. The blankets come rolled in a reusable cotton tote with a card attached, featuring a photo of the woman who knit the blanket.
After a year of coordination, training, designing and creating samples with three Haitian moms, Jackson plans to begin hiring more moms this spring, expanding that number as the organization can support it. The blankets make a meaningful new baby gift—and are cozy enough for swaddling the most precious cargo.
Available at haitibabi.org.