Disclosure: Diary of a First Time Mom received some form of compensation to promote the Heart of Haiti Collection. However, the country and campaign remain close to my heart, so all opinions are my own. Photos Courtesy Heart of Haiti.

This time of year, twenty-five years ago, I sat in a classroom at Washington Elementary School, cutting out paper hearts and gluing them to a cardboard box. My friends and I giggled about the boys we hoped would stick Valentine’s Day cards into our homemade mailboxes. If we were lucky, we would receive a piece of candy taped to the envelope. Despite the teacher’s explicit instruction to write out a card for every kid in the class, some students didn’t get much love. Looking back, they probably didn’t get greetings, because they weren’t well-known. Sometimes I wonder why I didn’t befriend the shy students on the sidelines. I’m sure they forgot as we fast forward to the future. Some of the same students once ignored are now finding love and happiness in 2014. They’re planning weddings, baby showers and vacations, and they’re sharing their stories on social media.

The cardless kid is the reason I’m asking Haiti to be my Valentine. It’s an island often overlooked. When I lived  in Grand Cayman for almost a decade, thousands of tourists embarked onto our shores for the top rated scuba diving and famous Seven Mile beach. Haiti didn’t draw as big of a crowd. But for those, such as myself, who travelled to country, knew first hand that it is a hidden gem in the Caribbean.

Here are five reason why I’m falling in love with the island all over again and supporting Heart of Hait.

The Children

1. The Children

Children are everywhere, yes. But the children is Haiti have a special place in my heart. Their smiles shine brighter than the sun, and their imagination is wider than the sea.

The View

2. The View

This is the view from atop the Citadelle Laferrière, a large mountaintop fortress in northern Haiti. The largest fortress in the Americas, the location  was designated as a World Heritage Site in 1982—along with the nearby Sans-Souci Palace.


3.  The Art

You can’t buy art like this at the local shopping mall!  Well, unless there’s a Macy’s. The department chain sells the handcrafted Heart of Haiti line at select stores and online. Using primarily recycled materials, the collection includes home décor items such as quilts, metalwork, paper måché, painting and jewelry. My daughter is giving that gift of hope to my mom in the form of the black and gold pictured vase.

The Spirit

4. The Spirit

Most people bring back coffee mugs and tee shirts from trips abroad. I collect crosses. I bought the spiritual souvenir everywhere from Columbia to Thailand. I would love to put up one of these crosses, handcrafted by Haitians.


5. The Carnival

I miss my days “jumping” in street carnivals and winding down the roads of Jamaica and Cayman. Motherhood has matured me, so joining the party will be a much-needed moms night out!

Hey DFTM fam–What are your reasons for wanting to visit Haiti? Until you take the trip, have you checked out the Heart of Haiti collection at Macy’s?

About The Author

Vlog Mom/DFTM Creator

Not long ago, Heather Hopson hosted a television show in the Cayman Islands. Today, she's back home writing a different kind of story as a new mom. In her 15 years working as a professional journalist, this by far is her best assignment! Growing up, she dreamed of becoming Oprah Winfrey. She was the features editor for her school’s newspaper and a teen talk show host for her city’s most popular radio station. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Michigan State University. After graduation, she worked as a television producer and reporter at CBS, NBC and Fox affiliates throughout the U.S. Instead of heading to Chicago to join Ms. Winfrey on her set, she bought a plane ticket to the Cayman Islands instead. She arrived five days before a category five hurricane! She lived in paradise for seven years, hosted an award-winning television show and traveled the globe with a government delegation. She also served on the board of directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters and spearheaded a Send a Kid to Camp campaign. Then, she relocated to Washington, D.C. to obtain a teaching certification and instruct 8th grade reading at a high needs middle school. She later returned to her hometown of Pittsburgh, PA to raise her daughter Caitlynn, now 4-years-old. During her 10-month-stint as a stay-at-home mom, Caitlynn inspired her to create this blog, and Diary of a First Time Mom was born on Mother’s Day 2012. Two years later, she expanded the family to include 20+ writers. Currently, Heather serves as the communications director at Allies for Children. In addition, she is the owner of Motor Mouth Multimedia, which ranked #49 in Startup Nation’s Home-Based 100 Competition sponsored by Discover Card and Sam’s Club. Recently, The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments selected Heather to receive an Emerging Black Artist award to develop Diary of a First Time Mom.

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