(Before reading this post, be sure to read Part 1 from last week’s blog about hand crafting beads from bullets.)
There is a labor of love and history that goes into each and every bead in our designs.
We source beads, charms, and pendants from remote villages to create jewelry designs in partnership with a job training program that targets supporting HIV positive women. We strive to honor both the bead makers and the women in our partnership through a direct, fair trade relationship.
The women in our partnership have been ostricized by their famililes and communities because of the stigma associated with AIDS. They come to a mountain to live in community with other HIV positive Ethiopians. Some come with their children as widows. Some come with their HIV positive husbands. All come to wash in the “holy waters” on the mountain believed to bring healing from their disease. Most resort to begging and waiting to die. They have lost hope.
When we first started our partnership two years ago, there were only a few skilled women, and most of the women still showed signs of sickness and discouragement.
Today, the jewelry design center is buzzing with activity and joy. There are now 150 women in the program and a large waiting list of more to enter as our orders grow. Hope is contagious.
The women gather throughout the week to fulfill our orders, working together based on their skills and level of training.
Our lead designer just returned from Ethiopia last night, sharing that the women are so confident and proud of their work. Many of them now have savings accounts which has become a tangible result of empowerment.
She showed them our website and they grinned ear to ear. When I hear reports like this, I too grin ear to ear and know that its all been worth it!
What was once meant for harm (bullets) now brings hope and life to these women….the ultimate example of upcycling for good.
Why don’t you join this redemption story and purchase something from our jewelry collection for yourself or someone you love. You’ll be directly part of bringing hope and dignity to an HIV positive woman in Ethiopia.
You can feel beautiful inside and out when you wear our Ethiopia collection. Each original handmade piece of jewelry embodies redemptive beauty.
(all photos by Esther Havens)