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. 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. 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. 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? One Response Kelly Hughes February 23, 2014 beautiful post Heather, thanks for sharing! Reply Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.