Dateline: Miami I haven’t been to Miami since Blogalicious, my all-time favorite blogging conference celebrating the diversity of women bloggers. For Blogalicious, I shacked up at the glam Ritz Carlton on South Beach. This time I’m in Miami headed to Haiti. Back in October, I was in Miami, at Blogalicious with my client Macy’s. I had coordinated a sponsorship for their Heart of Haiti initiative. Heart of Haiti is a “Trade not Aid” program where artisans in this earthquake-devastated country make crafts for sale at Macy’s stores. It’s an initiative inspired in part by the Clinton Bush Haiti fund to bring much needed income to the region. The Blogalicious organizers arranged for us to have 15 solid minutes of stage time in front of a room full of influential conference attendees. We were sandwiched between major bigger sponsors like Kellogg’s cereal and McDonald’s and their new line of smoothies. The Haitian artisans took the stage. They explained how vital this program is to their communities. Pascal, a Haitian papiere mache artist told the audience, “We want to work. We need to feed our families. Every purchase at Macy’s makes a difference.” The metal artisan, Serge confessed, “When you talk about art in Haiti you have to talk about voodoo.” The audience was spellbound. For once, conference attendees stopped milling about, took their eyes away from their iphones and blackberries and just listened. A pin could drop. After the presentation, an intensely pretty, petite women marched right up to and blurted, “Do you know Erzulie? She’s the Haitian Goddess of love and healing and femininity. I know all about her. I think she brought these Haitian artists here today. I need to talk to you.” And talk we did.
That petite woman was Ananda Leeke and little did I know that five short months later, we’d be headed to Haiti together to see the Heart of Haiti program first hand. Ananda kept in touch with me via twitter, posted a video about Heart of Haiti and inducted me into her “digital sisterhood.” Last November, she signed on with my firm, Everywhere, to become an “Ambassador Blogger” for Heart of Haiti. Our Ambassador bloggers agreed to take on Heart of Haiti as a cause. Ananda, along with 11 other bloggers, wrote frequent and heartfelt blog posts, they agreed to use their blogging voice to educate their readers about how Heart of Haiti is making a huge difference. In turn, we agreed to sponsor one Ambassador blogger to go to Haiti on a voyage with us. Ananda was chosen, by a panel of judges, as that blogger. Want to know what I think? Maybe the panel did choose Ananda, but I really think it was Erzulie!