Comite Artisanal Haitien

The nonprofit Comité Artisanal Haitien (CAH) was founded in 1973 to help rural craftspeople sell their wares in Port–au–Prince, to provide income and to help reduce the flow of migration from the countryside to the city. Though rural to urban migration continues, CAH helps artisans earn a living from their skills. The economic situation in Haiti is bleak, and the need for income generation is great. CAH craft sales often are the sole income source for artisans and their families.


CAH markets and exports crafts made by Haitian artisans, cooperatives and craft groups, who depend on CAH to find a fair price for their handicrafts. CAH provides marketing and promotional expertise, training in literacy and business skills for artisans, and financial assistance in case of health emergencies. Ten Thousand Villages has purchased products from CAH since 1978.


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A Chain of Blessing

Jhonson Augustin, a cut metal artisan in Croix des Bouquets, Haiti, was still in school when he started learning the art of metal work. The eldest of 11 children, whose father had left Haiti, Augustin felt a great deal of responsibility. “I needed to learn something [to earn an income],” he said. Cut metal work is a primary activity in Croix des Bouquets, where Augustin grew up. He was fortunate to apprentice with revered artist Serge Jolimeau, “one of the most caring master artisans” according to Augustin.



Augustin has gone on to become a well-known cut metal artisan in his own right, now training other young apprentices. These young people start with the “rough” work of cutting open the metal drums used as raw material, and sanding and varnishing the finished products. Gradually they move on to tasks requiring more skill.



“Cut metal work represents the wealth of Croix des Bouquets,” said Augustin. “This is what has made the city famous.” Artisans and apprentices make a living from creating art out of recycled metal drums. “Even apprentices can make enough to go to school, or to care for their children if they are parents,” he said. Currently Augustin’s workshop supports some 50 families. Of himself Augustin said, “This is what God gave me to live; I support my family, I am building a house and I am providing work for others.”



Augustin asks God to bless everyone involved in the trade with CAH. “Many people are living out of this,” he explained. “It is a chain of blessing, from the artisans making the product, the product itself, and then to CAH and on to Ten Thousand Villages.”

Jhonson Augustin's Story

Jhonson Augustin, a cut metal artisan in Croix des Bouquets, Haiti, was still in school when he started learning the art of metal work. The eldest of 11 children, whose father had left Haiti, Augustin felt a great deal of responsibility. “I needed to learn something [to earn an income],” he said. Cut metal work is a primary activity in Croix des Bouquets, where Augustin grew up. He was fortunate to apprentice with revered artist Serge Jolimeau, “one of the most caring master artisans” according to Augustin.



Augustin has gone on to become a well-known cut metal artisan in his own right, now training other young apprentices. These young people start with the “rough” work of cutting open the metal drums used as raw material, and sanding and varnishing the finished products. Gradually they move on to tasks requiring more skill.



“Cut metal work represents the wealth of Croix des Bouquets,” said Augustin. “This is what has made the city famous.” Artisans and apprentices make a living from creating art out of recycled metal drums. “Even apprentices can make enough to go to school, or to care for their children if they are parents,” he said. Currently Augustin’s workshop supports some 50 families. Of himself Augustin said, “This is what God gave me to live; I support my family, I am building a house and I am providing work for others.”



Augustin asks God to bless everyone involved in the trade with CAH. “Many people are living out of this,” he explained. “It is a chain of blessing, from the artisans making the product, the product itself, and then to CAH and on to Ten Thousand Villages.”

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