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Bracelets from "Blans"

Wed, Nov 30th, 2011

Eight years ago, Kelly Smart, of Coventry, CT, heard about a small village in the mountains of Haiti, called Les Plames, whose parish is twinned with St. Mary's of Coventry and travels there consistently She was so touched by the stories of the children and families she heard about, that she felt it in her heart that she wanted to reach out to them and do something special.

She began brainstorming about how she could help bring smiles to the faces of kids who she had heard the travelers gushing about. "Bracelets!" she thought, remembering the beaded bracelets she had learned to make using colorful plastic beads and elastic string.  If she could raise enough funds to buy the materials, and work on them whenever she had free time, she could make enough braceelts in the next couple of years to one day bring to Les Palmes.

Kelly has been working on those bracelets since 2003. SHe enlisted the help of her friends, and spent many hours making the small gifts for the children. SLowly, the pile of bracelets began to grow, and they started filling up bags. When she stopped to count, she found that she had made over 1m500 braceelts to send to Haiti!

Months turned into years, and Kelly was afraid she would not make it back to Les Palmes to ever give them out to the kids. Then, recently she heard that Barbara Charland and a group from St. Mary's Church in Coventry was going in the fall. She asked for the number of children in each classroom, because she thought she had enough to go around. Currently in the immediate village of Les Palmes, there are 160 kindergartners, 422 primary school students, and over 600 secondary school students.

What great news! It turns out she had more than enough to go around. Eight years after Kelly set out to make something special for Haiti, she had enough bracelets to give to not only every student in Les Palmes, but every child living at Paula's orphanage, and every child who come to eat at Madame Sampson's neighborhood meal program.  She packed the gifts and gave them to Barbara and the rest of our group to take to Haiti.

When we arrived in Les Palmes on November 9th, we told the story of the bracelet project to Les Palmes pastor, Rev. Johnson and he was filled with joy.  The next day, we were welcomed the classrooms, starting with the 160 kindergarteners. They shrieked and giggled, while some looked on inquisitively. One group serenaded us with a children's song, as the "blans" (the Kreyol word for white people) gave each a bracelet. The next day, we visited the elementary and secondary schools, and they were waiting for us! The word must have spread about the blancs with the bracelets, because they knew what we were coming to do.

The secondary school even stopped recess early to go into the classrooms so that we could visit with them and give them Kelly's gifts. The students said thank you and posed for pictures, showing off their new bling.  It was truly amazing to see the connections that were formed in those few hours of handing out the bracelets that were made with such love.

Kelly- thank you for your diligent, persistent, work over the last eight years, and for keeping Haiti with you in your heart. We wish you could have been there to see the faces of the children as they received the little signs of hope from strange visitors who had entered their world. Please know that the years of work you put into this project was worth every minute. The world is a better place full of more smiles and more compassion because of people like you.We can't wait for the day when you can join us on a trip!

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.




Barbara Charland, Sue Gagliardi, and Denise and Matthew Pillion of St. Mary's Haiti Ministry



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