African Hope Crafts
Although a significant percent of South Africa’s population is HIV-positive, the people of Cape Town will not let the virus destroy their hopes and dreams. In fact, a Christian job creation program, African Hope Crafts (AHC), specifically reaches out to men and women who are HIV positive and unable to find work. While they create products they learn proper health practices and receive encouragement from each other. The spokesperson for AHC writes “Just giving HIV-positive suffers a reason to get out of bed each day is a real joy. Our time together is about much more than the money they earn.”
Anadoule artisan group is located in the Turkish central city of Anatolia. It provides opportunities for women to learn skills in handmade crafts in order to provide income for their families and to keep the Turkish culture alive. Each artisan has a unique story. Faitma is an artisan who needed an income to provide for her family. Her husband no longer worked, and she had several children. The work of handcrafting these products provides the earnings Faitma desperately needs for her family. Anadoule makes a lasting impact on the lives of these Turkish artisans and their families.
Ayu Sewing Project
Impoverished Indonesian mothers struggle with providing basic necessities for their families. Most of their husbands receive a salary of only around $100 a month. These families live from month to month and barely make enough money to feed their families, much less provide for other needs such as schooling.
Ayu Sewing Project was created to help Indonesian women learn a trade that they could use to support their families using their new skills. Originally, they made scarves. By making only a few scarves per week, these mothers are increasing their monthly income by 40%! The women use the money to pay for their children's schooling, medical, and rental expenses.
Back to Africa
Back to Africa began in 2008 as an offshoot of Heart of the Bride Ministries, Inc. The primary objective of Back to Africa is family preservation and care for families at risk in Kenya. The artisans, most of whom are single mothers or refugees or both, lived in extreme poverty before they began creating Back to Africa jewelry.
Mama Faith, pictured here, has been working with Back to Africa since 2008 as a bead artisan. A mother of 4, her income from Back to Africa enables her to consistently feed and clothe her children, send them to school, give to her local church, and help her family and neighbors who are not as fortunate. She says, “I have seen God in these necklaces. My husband got saved and baptized! I am a very happy woman. He used to drink and now he goes to church, and helps with the beads.”
The Back to Africa project has benefited more than 400 people. They have seen firsthand how a small paper bead or simple ceramic pendant can profoundly impact a community halfway around the world.
Baptist Friendship House
Baptist Friendship House in New Orleans, Louisiana, works to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of homeless, human trafficking survivors, and those living in poverty. They are a registered Christian Woman’s Job Corp site of National WMU. The artisans learned to create pottery as a part of the therapy provided at Baptist Friendship House. Now these women have turned their hobby into a skill they can use to rebuild their lives.
Begin Anew Refugee Artisan Group
Leaving their homes and coming to a new land with new customs, new rules, and a new language is overwhelming for many refugees. The language barrier creates obstacles as they try to begin a new life. Begin Anew, a Christian Women's Job Corps ministry in Nashville, TN has a mission “to empower individuals in Middle Tennessee to overcome obstacles caused by poverty by providing education, mentoring, and resources.” Begin Anew’s south Nashville site works with refugees to teach them English and to help them become established in their new home. As a WorldCrafts artisan group, Begin Anew teaches a group of women how to hand screen print a variety of times to earn additional income for their families. In the words of Thee, one of the artisans from Myanmar, when you purchase an item handcrafted by Begin Anew, the artisans send you, "Big, Big Thanks!"
Blessed Hope provides creative work, skills development training, and true lasting hope to the women artisans and their families throughout the Himalayan Mountains of Nepal. Labor and sex trafficking are both prevalent within Nepal, and the jobs and training Blessed Hope provides help eliminate the desperate situations which often lead to susceptibility to trafficking. Through their partnership with WorldCrafts, the women artisans are paid salaries that make them able to purchase basic necessities for their families such as their children’s school fees, diapers, electricity, and propane gas to cook with and heat their homes.
Channapatna Handicrafts is located in a quaint southern Indian town. The artisans use a special skill called lac-turney, a 200-year-old craft traced to the reign of a royal ruler who invited artisans from Persia to train the local artisans in making wooden toys. The process of shaping and coloring the wood is carried out on a lathe, a machine that turns pieces of wood while the artisans use sharp tools to shape them. Artisans then apply a vibrantly colored lacquer made by mixing natural, nontoxic vegetable dyes.
These lac-turney products are carved from hale wood, also called ivory wood, a local species of tree that grows widely throughout south India. Usually the entire tree is not felled, and the tree grows back. Therefore, the materials used in the craft are natural and eco-friendly.
In the last decade, without proper support in marketing, the number of Channapatna artisans has declined considerably. The craft was dying. With help of WorldCrafts, the artisans of Channapatna have been able to reach the global market, helping the sales of handmade products and improving the livelihoods of the artisans and their families. WorldCrafts empowers the artisans by reviving the craft, providing better working conditions and sustainable incomes, and creating employment opportunities in the community.
China Ethnic Crafts
Although women of China believe in tradition, they desire to break away from the cycle of poverty, domestic abuse, and the lack of education. For generations, Chinese women have embellished their clothing with extravagant colors and intricate designs, but they only began marketing their talent when they joined China Ethnic Crafts. Now, women can embroider flowers, birds, and butterflies on accessory items. This work earns their families extra income to supplement rice farming and send their children to secondary school.
In cities such as Kolkata (Calcutta), India, many women live in traditional patriarchal communities and are not allowed to work outside their homes. ConneXions offers these women the opportunity to collect the raw materials for their quilts and scarves and take them home to produce. This opportunity to work from home and earn a living wage opens the door to economic empowerment for the artisans. With the income received through their employment with ConneXions, the artisans are able to increase the educational opportunities for their children (especially their daughters) as well as help their families survive setbacks, particularly when illness or unemployment strikes.