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When one thinks of Haiti, images of Port Au Prince, the gritty capital of this third world country come to mind. However, there is a vibrant side of Haiti that not everyone gets to see and experience. On a recent cruise to Cuba and the Caribbean, our cruise ship docked at Labadee, Haiti. I’ll be the first to admit that private beaches owned by Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines does not make an authentic experience, but I found that art in Haiti is making an impact.

Haiti Shore Excursion

On our cruise to Cuba with Royal Caribbean Cruises, we experienced several shore excursions in Havana and Cienfuegos, in addition to Grand Cayman and Labadee, Haiti. We were fortunate to have an entire day and night in Havana, while our other shore excursions only offered a brief taste of the destination.

As I mentioned, a full day on the beaches of Labadee, near Cap Haitien, on the north coast of Haiti, does not make me an expert on Labadee or how our shore excursions impact the locals of Labadee. I do know that I wanted to support the artists of Haiti during my short time on the island of Hispaniola, east of Cuba. While Haiti is bordered to the east by the Dominican Republic, roadside eats in the Dominican Republic are similar to Haiti. They both offer Caribbean island fruits and lively and colorful arts and crafts.

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Travel Blogger Nancy D. Brown with Labadee local and new shoes.

Art in Haiti is making an impact

I visited the artist collective in Labadee and discovered that art in Haiti is making an impact on me in a positive way. Artist collectives such as the booths and shops that are operated on the peninsula of land that Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines leases allows guests of the cruise ship to interact with the Haitian locals while supporting Haitian artists. Being from California, I was surprised to see the Toms shoes banner on display in one of the Labadee co-operative shops.

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Toms Canvas Classic in Labadee. Photo © Nancy D. Brown

Toms Haiti Limited Edition Art

If you are familiar with Toms Together We Stand platform, you know that with every pair of shoes you purchase, Toms will give a new pair of shoes to a child in need; one for one. The Toms Haiti Limited Edition Art program gives back “Youn pou youn” in Haitian Creole that translates to “one for one.” Toms mission statement notes, “as a company that’s in business to help improve lives around the world, Toms is commissioning local Haitian artists to create hand-painted, limited edition Canvas Classics. Well, guess who purchased a pair of hand-painted, limited edition Canvas Classic shoes from Toms? Yours truly hopes that this piece of art in Haiti is making an impact. With my purchase, I stand with Toms on issues that matter!

“Toms is commissioning local Haitian artists to create hand-painted, limited edition Canvas Classics – one for one.”

Haitian artist Emmanuel Laurent

Haitian artist and father of two young girls, Emmanuel Laurent is from Port-au-Prince. In his late thirties, Emmanuel has been an art lover and creator of art since his childhood. Painting on Toms shoes will give Emmanuel the income to help keep his daughters in school. He hopes that his art in Haiti is making an impact and that it will one day be globally recognized. I hope that my sharing his story will spread the word about how art in Haiti is making an impact around the world; I know it is for this California girl from San Francisco!

Need to know:

While many of the cruise ship passengers were proud of their bartering skills, I think its important to remember that we come from a different financial perspective than the Haitian locals. For me, it was important to know that my money went back to the people of Haiti. While I paid more for my Toms shoes than I would have for a pair of shoes in California, I was helping to make a difference on art in Haiti.

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Art in Haiti making an impact with limited edition art. Photo © Nancy D. Brown

Want to be a part of the movement that has helped give 86 million pairs of shoes to children in need? Join me in making an impact with the purchase of limited edition art. For additional insider tips follow luxury travel writer @Nancydbrown on Twitter or Instagram @Nancydbrown and Toms on Instagram.

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Haitian dancers welcome Royal Caribbean Cruise ship passengers to Labadee, Haiti. Photo © Nancy D. Brown

If You Go:

Royal Caribbean Cruise to Cuba

Labadee, Haiti

Art in Haiti is Making an Impact review YouTube video and all photography by travel writer Nancy D. Brown. No compensation was received in return for this Toms shoe review.