A man holds whole vanilla beans at a grocery market in San Francisco, California February 7, 2014.
Credit: Reuters/Robert Galbraith
The Vanilla Project, which provides income for some 650 farmers in rural Haiti, on February 1 earned its creators the Citizen Diplomat Award from Global Ties U.S., a non-profit partner of the U.S. State Department.
“Haiti once exported some of the finest vanilla products to Paris. They can do it again,” said Anne Reynolds, 57, a former professor at Auburn University at Montgomery, Alabama.
Both Reynolds and Wilmore share a belief that the best way to help those less fortunate is through collaboration, and that giving creates dependency.
While Wilmore disapproves of handouts, he believes he owes the people of Haiti a debt of gratitude, because their bloody, decade-long revolution in the late 18th century began the end of slavery in the western world.
“It is race, class and history wrapped into this. Here we are, young black men, working with white women from Alabama, buying chocolate from poor Haitians. We are shining the light on social injustice through ice cream,” Wilmore said in his award acceptance speech.
He added: “Ice cream tastes better than poverty.”
(Additional reporting by Amelie Baron in Port-au-Prince; Writing and editing by David Adams; Editing by Dan Grebler)