African Hope Crafts
Even though 25 percent of South Africa’s population suffers from AIDS, the people of Cape Town will not let the disease 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. This group is providing opportunities for women to learn skills in handmade crafts in order to provide much-needed income for their families and keep the Turkish culture alive. Each artisan has a unique story. Faitma is an artisan who needed to work to provide for her family because her husband no longer works and she has several children. The work of handmaking these products has provided the income that Faitma desperately needs for her family. Anadoule is truly making a lasting impact in 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 only around $100 a month salary. 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. These women are taught how to sew and make unique 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 kids’ 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. The artisans, most of whom are single mothers and/or refugees, 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 benefitted 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.
Begin Anew Refugee Artisan Group
Begin Anew’s mission is “to empower individuals in Middle Tennessee to overcome obstacles caused by poverty by providing education, mentoring, and resources.” Begin Anew’s south Nashville, TN, location is a Christian Women’s Job Corps site where refugees learn to speak English, develop job skills, and receive words of eternal hope. With the support of WorldCrafts, the Begin Anew Refugee Artisan group provides sustainable incomes that empower and transform the lives of those who’ve had to flee their home countries due to war, terrorism, and persecution.
Striving for a better life in the West Bank, the men and women involved with Bethlehem Carvers skillfully find their way through political unrest and financial insecurity. Due to ongoing conflict, tourism has dwindled. This being a main source of income for artisans in the Bethlehem area, their families have suffered tremendously. Bethlehem Carvers allows them to continue this age-old tradition of carving olive wood and into intricate figurines, while marketing products abroad.
Channapatna Handcrafts is located in a quaint southern India town. The artisans use a special skill called lac-turnery, 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, which is a machine that turns the piece of wood while using a sharp tool to shape it. Artisans then apply lacquer of bright and vibrant colors made by mixing natural and nontoxic vegetable dyes.
These lac-turnery products are carved out of 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. Thus materials used in the craft are natural and eco-friendly.
In the last decade, with no proper support in marketing, the number of Channapatna artisans has declined considerably, and the craft was dying. With help from WorldCrafts, the artisans of Channapatna have been able to reach the global market, thereby helping the sales of handmade products and improving the livelihoods of the artisans and their families. WorldCrafts has empowered 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 young girls are forced into the slavery of the sex trade because of dire poverty. Puja, for example, was especially at risk because she had lost both parents by the time she was a young teen. But because the ConneXions artisan group was working in her community she was able to avoid even entertaining the idea of looking for oppressive or shameful jobs. She and other young women now earn a fair wage and receive vocational training at ConneXions, freeing them and their families from the vicious cycle of poverty.
CraftAid, founded in 1982, provides jobs for people with disabilities (about 46 percent of current employees have disabilities.) Many of the artisans are hearing-impaired. CraftAid also employs many women responsible for providing for their families. CraftAid changes lives. Raima, a hearing-impaired artisan for CraftAid, found friends and contentment through her work. She also found Tana, her husband. Now they are married and have a son. Through their work, they can provide for their young family in Mauritius.