In 2001 Jarrod and Allison Brown were doing mission work in response to the hurricane that hit Central America. During this time they observed a need for opportunity mixed with a lack of economic stability. The two social entrepreneurs felt that God was encouraging them to help. In 2004 Jarrod and Allison officially founded Mission Lazarus, a non-profit focusing on education, medical, and agricultural outreaches serving Honduras and eventually expanding into Haiti in 2011. The three components of Mission Lazarus are carried out through a social enterprise and spiritual approach, focusing on the growth of the whole individual, not simply just providing jobs.
Mission Lazarus has schools in Honduras and Haiti. The schools offer academic and vocational programs side by side. Culturally there is a barrier for families to access education. Due to the high rate of poverty, trade skills are typically valued over education because families need their kids to earn income. This can lead to child labor and a lack of education in the community. However, Mission Lazarus is defying the odds by providing stipends for children and teens attending their school. This provides incentive for families to send their kids to school knowing kids will receive an education and learn a trade. When kids graduate from Mission Lazarus’ school they receive a certification in a trade and a 9th grade education, which is three more years than the government provides.
The vocational school focuses on skills such as leather working, welding, and sewing. Upon completion of the vocational program some graduates are offered a job creating Mission Lazarus products. The products created in the vocational program are sold through Mission Lazarus' social enterprise in America, using proceeds to support their non-profit. Mission Lazarus sells beautiful leather goods and coffee products. Other graduates have embraced their entrepreneurial spirt and started their own businesses. In Honduras Mission Lazarus employs 100 individuals full-time and 50 individuals seasonally. In the recently developed vocational school in Haiti there are 20 community members employed.
In Honduras, Mission Lazarus owns a 2,000 acre ranch where they are able to train and employ community members. On this same property, they operate a refuge for vulnerable children who are placed with Mission Lazarus through the government, typically coming from abusive backgrounds. With a total of ten different houses on the property kids are divided into family like settings. Women from the community are employed to serve as house mothers. Children are kept busy attending school and tending to their chores on the ranch which teach responsibility, sustainability, and provide a source of food for the homes. The refuge currently has 38 children living in the Mission Lazarus children's community.
Mission Lazarus was able to purchase a coffee farm down the road from the ranch. Through the coffee farm they can employ more people from the community, pay fair wages, and lift more families out of poverty. The coffee farm practices organic and fair trade principles. I love that the coffee farm empowers women in the community through initiatives such as placing a woman as the manager. When people in the America purchase coffee from Mission Lazarus 100% of the profits directly impact the children's homes. I was lucky enough to try Mission Lazarus coffee and it was wonderful! The bold taste was the perfect morning pick me up!
Mission Lazarus serves community members who need medical attention and has preventative programs. Preventative programs focus on health education such as the nutrition program or the woman's program.
One of the characteristics that makes Mission Lazarus unique is their relationships with churches. Mission Lazarus pairs up churches from the United States with churches in Honduras in order to build relationships. Mission Lazarus hosts trips where individuals can travel to Honduras or Haiti. Some churches use this as an opportunity to travel and meet their partner church in Honduras. This has allowed for the two different communities to bond and grow through ongoing spiritual relationships.
During my recent travels to Haiti I saw the need for jobs and I am glad Mission Lazarus is taking action to create more opportunity for the Haitians. Mission Lazarus' Haiti collection has a special place in my heart. My Ana Julia Tote from the Haiti Collection is absolutely stunning. This bag is the perfect size for carrying all your essentials. The beautifully tanned leather makes this bag durable and fashionable.
Mission Lazarus products are high quality goods made with love and care. Employees and vocational students sign their name on the tag of each good made. I love this feature because it bridges the gap between consumers and the person behind the product. I encourage you to check out all of Mission Lazarus' products including their journals, Bibles, leather accessories, and coffee products. There is something for everybody! You can find Mission Lazarus products online and in various shops in the Nashville area.