There are hundreds of thousands of organizations reaching out to provide humanitarian aid to Haiti. But despite their efforts, the country and its people are still struggling; often treated as refugees within the confines of their own land. But fashion label Asdarjah Jeans hopes to provide a prime example of how to give back to Haitian people in a way that provides not only aid but also dignity and respect.
Dream Big 1,000,000 smiles, taking place October 1, offers a stark and welcome contrast to the widely circulated images of local people lined up for miles to receive handouts. Instead, Asdarjah Jeans is taking 21 people from Haiti’s so called most dangerous cities to a dining experience they’ll never forget. The flyer for the event reads, “When We Win, You Win”, and that philosophy rings true.
In an official statement, the brand expressed frustration about previous humanitarian efforts throughout Haiti. Residents are often herded and treated like animals just to receive clothing, food, and other necessary goods. Asdarjah Jeans feels there is a proper way to conduct charity work. And to date, most of the organizations working in the country have failed to follow the correct examples. Dream Big 1,000,000 smiles seeks to enlighten the Haitian people and remind them of what proper aid looks like. The restaurant setting for the event will help those in need feel comfort and respect. But most important, they’ll feel like valued human beings.
Asdarjah Jeans used proceeds from its t-shirt sales to fund the historic dinner. And though this is the first, the brand plans to increase its charitable efforts as sales continue to grow.
In recent years, failed humanitarian efforts in Haiti have become fodder for international news stories. According to a 2015 piece from Huffington Post, there are 10,000 nongovernmental organizations raising funds within Haiti. This doesn’t include foundations abroad that are also working to aid local people. All of these groups are funneling billions of dollars into the country with the promise of saving Haitian people from poverty and hunger.
Yet, the nation still reports a 40% unemployment rate and consistently ranks an extremely poor country in comparison to other nations around the globe.
Even in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, many cities are still left without essential government functions and services. Much of the earthquake aid was used for immediate relief but not long-term recovery.
Many of the groups on the ground in Haiti are not spearheading efforts that directly impact locals. Asdarjah jeans’ dinner is a charity event that immediately benefits the Haitian people. There’s no red tape. There’s no delay in giving back. It’s real change that makes a difference as promised. Hopefully, with the brand’s influences, more companies and organizations will shift their strategy not only to directly impacting local citizens but also moving forth with efforts that honor the Haitian people. Respect should always be at the forefront of any charity movement. Dream Big 1,000,000 Smiles is a beautiful reminder of that.