Originally Published: April 27, 2011 9:55 p.m.
The Children's Peace Project, a Prescott grassroots nonprofit that benefits Haitian and West African children, will be selling its special Zanmitay friendship bracelets and Haitian coffee beans at a booth during the Epic Rides Whiskey Off Road Mountain Bike event this weekend.
When the economy began to slide downward in 2008 and the World Children's Relief organization had to shut its doors, Prescottonian Kari Hull, then the program's field director, couldn't let go of her passion for helping children in less-fortunate countries.
This desire led to her formation of the all-volunteer Children's Peace Project, which has not only benefited impoverished children but also employed women in struggling Haiti, Hull said.
To date, Hull said, the Children's Peace Project has built a classroom in West Africa, and sent $5,000 to Haiti to help rescue orphaned children when the earthquake hit Haiti in 2010. Now, the project has set out to help Sacred Heart School in Cap Haitien in Haiti and will supply the children with uniforms, school supplies and tuition, Hull said.
The friendship bracelets are the products of a micro-business initiated by the Children's Peace Project. "Sparkly beads" from the United States are sent to Haitian women, Hull said, and they fashion bracelets incorporating their native beads, shells, wood, and seed beads. When the bracelets come back to the U.S., the Children's Peace Project sells them, with all proceeds going to Sacred Heart School in Cap Haitien.
Hull's heart is in the project to help children because she has traveled extensively in developing countries and found the people inspiring, she said. "I feel a calling to help facilitate sustainable change for them within their own communities through these projects," she said. Tying economic development and education together helps pull them out of poverty, she said.
Two of Hull's friends, Margo Christensen and Greg Raskin, believe in her project and have joined in with their support.
Christensen voluntarily helps with public relations work about the Children's Peace Project because "I think helping children in need is one of the most important things we can do," she said, adding that giving women the resources, tools and training to start a sustainable business in Haiti was also a worthy aspiration.
"It hit me when I found out" about Hull's organization, Christensen said, so much so that she knew she wanted to be involved.
Raskin, owner of longtime Prescott business Raskin's Jewelers, has contributed to the Children's Peace Project since its inception and stepped up assistance after the earthquake in Haiti in 2010. Raskin also sells the Haitian coffee in his store and said, "I am for this organization wholeheartedly. Anything Hull does in the way of charity work "is nothing but good," he said.
Natasha Meister, co-founder of the Children's Peace Project, sums up the works of the organization by noting the educational opportunities it offers. "Hopefully, the regions we go into are bettered by having the opportunity for education," she said.
The Children's Peace Project booth will be set up on the west side of the Yavapai County Courthouse during the bike race. Volunteers will be selling bracelets for $12 each or two for $20. Haitian coffee will sell for $12 each or two for $20, as well. Or, Hull said, people can buy one package of coffee and one bracelet for $20.
These products and more information about the Children's Peace Project are available online at childrenspeaceprojects.org.