Hallie Darphin, Dot's Founder and CEO, here! Today I want to share a story with you.
In 2010, I was a sophomore in college. I ate nutritious food someone else cooked at a school my parents and donors paid for. I loved school and art supplies and my dorm room was proof of that. I hung out with friends who looked and talked like me, and our biggest worry was whether or not we would win the tailgate competition on Saturday afternoon. (We always did.) The only time I went without air conditioning were on the nights that I rolled down my windows and drove down dark roads blaring Taylor Swift and enjoying life with friends. I had everything I could ask for and yet there was something missing. I asked God for fulfillment. I told him I was willing to do anything.
In 2010, Nathan was a tailor in Port Au Prince, Haiti. He was providing for his family by working in a sewing factory. The earthquake hit and his home was gone. He found himself living in a tent city with thousands of other people. It was dark and dangerous. It was crowded and dirty.
In 2010, Stan was the pastor of a mega-church in Jackson, Mississippi. He saw pictures of Haiti post-earthquake and almost overnight found himself on an airplane to see it for himself. He saw the tent cities and was overwhelmed. He asked a man living in one of them if he'd like to move out of the tent city. The man said "of course, but it's impossible." Quoting scripture, Stan said, "With man, it is impossible, but with God, nothing is impossible." Haiti became his new congregation.
It was 2011 and God answered my prayers of fulfillment by asking me to quit my college life and move to Uganda for three months. I did it willingly. I begged and pleaded and prayed that Uganda would be my forever home. I found myself back in the States and back in college. I was frustrated and disillusioned. I wanted to make a difference. I didn't know that I could do that here.
"But God" became Stan's ministry. They built a medical clinic and a church and a water well. They built homes on a hill for the people in the tent city to come and live. Nathan and his family came to live in a house on the hill. Others came too. It was far from Port Au Prince where he worked, but it was safe and his family thrives. He rides the bus to work in the city. He saw that the people of his community needed jobs locally. He dreamt of ways to make that happen.
It was 2013 and I was about to graduate from college. I had added a business minor after returning from Uganda. I took an entrepreneurship class and worked at building a business idea that would fix education problems around the world. The idea for Dot Products was born. We launched in the fall of 2014 after a year of preparation. The first year, we sent 11 kids to school in three countries. I learned and grew and saw God's faithfulness in keeping my in the States. He was Good, and He was God.
It was 2015 and God had given Nathan a big dream. He had given him the idea of starting a sewing school. He wanted to provide jobs to the women of his community. He wanted them to be able to provide for their family. He asked Mickie and Tony, the missionaries at the Hope Center, if But God would be interested in helping. He didn't know that an organization had recently approached them about donating sewing machines and fabric to be used to start such a program. He didn't know that a girl from Mississippi was looking for a tailor to sew pencil bags for her fledgling company. He just heard God and pursued it. We're still waiting to see how it all turns out, but we serve a God who knows it all.
I met Stan in the Spring of 2015. But God was thriving, and people were noticing. I emailed him after watching a video. He sat in my office a week later. He told me about the Hope Centers, the medical clinic and the houses on the hill, the school and the churches that were growing. I told him of my dream to produce school supplies in the countries where our children lived. He said he knew a guy. I was on a plane to Haiti two weeks later.
I went to Haiti in April and met Nathan. We talked design and logistics. We didn't really talk at all. He speaks Creole and I speak English. He said he could do it, no problem. We dreamt together of a day when this first order of pencil bags would turn into the sewing school he talked of. We're not quite there, but we're somewhere closer.
And that's the story of this first round of pencil bags. We ordered 100 to begin with. They're made of rice bags, the plastic-y woven durable fabric so common in the developing world. They're lined with gingham, the fabric of Haitian school uniforms. One day soon, the colors of the lining will correspond with the uniforms of the children that we sponsor in Haiti. (We haven't gotten there yet.) We are excited to get them into your hands. We want to know what you think. Our goal is a sewing school, employing many women and men, teaching marketable skills, improving the economy of Haiti. We need your help! I'm asking you to pick up your pencil bag today from the "Shop" section of our website.
We've got 100 bags to sell on this first order. The faster they go, the faster we'll be able to provide more work to Nathan. Each sale gets But God Ministries and Nathan one step closer to the sewing school dream. They'll receive the sewing machines this winter. They also need $10,000 for a building. If you want to donate, let me know. We're getting there, slowly but surely. We're getting there.