She’s Not Poor.

by beckystraw on January 13, 2012

Disclosure. And deep breath. This blog post is actually an email I sent yesterday to 20 people. It was my “safe” attempt to stand up for what I believe in. My goal for 2012 was to be bold, and I realized that by emailing only 20 people, I had already failed.

So this is me. Being brave.

Hey there,

Emailing just good family and friends on this one. Basically people I trust and admire.

Some of you know I went to Haiti this week, mainly because a TV New Station wanted to film the stove program. Which meant we jumped at the chance to have them introduced to the stove vendors, and so proud to have something positive to say about Haiti on national news.

But when we got to there Saturday morning, with the two van loads full of gear, the producer met the stove vendor, turned to me and said, “She’s not poor.”

“Where are the tents? I thought we talked about tents?!”

We had never talked about tents. In fact, the vendors have done something remarkable – and are now selling 20 stoves per day – earning a daily commission of $60 – astronomical considering most people struggle on $2.

It’s clear this wasn’t the story they wanted to tell. We drove them to a tent camp instead, and they interviewed someone poor…they got their shots, and then stopped yelling at us. The “poor” woman was using a stove, so at least they asked her about it, and she spoke of the virtues…

I’m not mad at them – they were just getting shots that get ratings. But it made me realize that we probably have a long road to convince people that the true solutions are not always are sexy. They are not orphans, or vulnerable. They are quite the opposite. They are dignified and dynamic. The women will tell you their marketing strategies and explain their salespitch, but don’t try to ask them if they are “so thankful for our support.” They will look at you funny. They’re appreciative, but as they rightly see it, they are the ones doing all the work.

So anyways. That leaves us with today – the first locally-produced and locally-sold Haitian social enterprise in the country (from what we can find). On the anniversary of the quake…

A glimpse of a stove might be on the news tonight, but you won’t see an entrepreneur. Because she’s not poor. How awesome.





PS: Since we don’t have the national news, the next best thing is family and friends. We set up a campaign encouraging people to try and inspire two friends to donate (our own attempt at spreading the message to “go national”)

I would love your help fundraising, tweeting, or sharing online:   Join Me In Helping Haiti Today: #StovesForHaiti

And if you want to donate. I realized my own page still doesn’t have any friends:  :)




  • Candi

    Maybe you remember Larry…. he is my husband, Cassie’s dad?!? Anyway, TV show or not, we LOVE your efforts for Haiti and realize how hard it is to get people to understand our passion at times…. and then again, at an unexpected moment, someone kind and concerned and generous shows his desire to DO something for Adventure Project…. like an amazing World War II veteran of 87 years old….what a gift, what a great reminder of why we speak of this project and share it’s effects in a country struggling to rebuild itself and it’s dignity…thank YOU Becky Straw for ALL you are doing, you humble me!! God bless you.

    • beckystraw

      Of course I remember Larry! We had good times in Liberia with the chicken. :) Thanks so much for the words of encouragement. Really appreciate the entire Stewart/Burback crew!

  • Misha

    LOVE. IT.

    So glad you were brave & shared.

  • Jacob Vanhorn

    Loved this line “A glimpse of a stove might be on the news tonight, but you won’t see an entrepreneur. Because she’s not poor. How awesome.” in the email, and loved it again here. Becky, you rock. For realz.

  • Jim Straw

    Great Explanation. Makes you wonder what on-the-ground volunteers feel like when Hollywood Stars breeze into Darfur or other hot spots in their private jet with a Morning News Crew to shoot a three minute story to show everyone “what’s really happening” in the world. Imagine a Hollywood Icon being told by the News Media that their efforts are a waste, as the Government obviously can do a better job…just look at the great results the local government has obtained.

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