Jolina Auguste was the first employee hired by REBUILD globally and the inspiration for the social enterprise. She worked with our founder, Julie, to think beyond traditional charity methods and focus on employment efforts. It was tough to find a free second with Jolina, because she is so dedicated to her work, but when we finally got the chance to sit down and chat with her, she had a lot to say.
Jolina has done everything in the workshop. “I made sandals, I’ve sewn; all the levels of production,” she said. Now she works as the production manager and workshop supervisor of Deux Mains designs. “I check and make sure the sandals are good quality, and I help to package the good ones to ship to Orlando and to sell in the boutique.” She also oversees all of the artisans and addresses problems as they arise in the course of production.
Jolina supports a family of ten, so she constantly has her hands full. She has two daughters, Michaell, age nine, and Esther, age seven, and she takes care of a fourteen-year-old girl named Atilan. “I also take care of my mother, my two sisters, and my three brothers,” she said. “I’m able to take care of my family because I have a job.”
“Every morning when I get up for work I’m excited … My work has helped me create a life for myself.”
When we asked Jolina for her favorite part about living in Haiti, she said it is her work. “Every morning when I get up for work I’m excited,” she said. “I like everything about working at REBUILD—the people I work with, the product we make, everything!”
She says she can’t choose one part of Deux Mains that she likes more than the others. It is more than just a place of work for her. Her job has changed her life. “My work has helped me create a life for myself,” she said. “How could it not be my favorite part?”
“Poverty is a real challenge here. Everyone looks at me and sees I have work, so they expect me to help support them, and it’s overwhelming.”
Despite the joy that working brings Jolina, she says living in a poor country still impacts her life every day. She said, “poverty is a real challenge here. Everyone looks at me and sees I have work, so they expect me to help support them, and it’s overwhelming.”
Jolina believes that providing jobs for the people of Haiti can help solve this problem, which is why REBUILD globally is such an important part of her life. “We need more work here in Haiti so more people can become self-sufficient,” she said.
She closed with an invitation. “You should come to [Deux Mains] and see the work we’re doing to help Haitians,” she said. “Soon we’ll have workshops in O’Caye, Jeremie, Petit Goave, O’Cap… everywhere in Haiti. If you come see us and help us, you’ll get to see the whole country!”