Light of Hope
The thin, dirty girl sits dejectedly on the curb as pedestrians filter past her. Ten-year-old Farjana is tired and does not feel well, but she knows she must earn more money before she can go home for the day. “When I was very young, my father died,” Farjana says. “My mom was unable to manage our family by providing food and other needs for us. . . . The last 6 years I have been going to [a major intersection] for begging and earning money for my family.”
Farjana does not go to school and cannot read or write. She wants to go to school someday because “without education, there is no significance in life,” she said.
She is just one of Bangladesh’s estimated 700,000 beggars. Girls from low-income families like Farjana face many obstacles and dangers in their life—including potentially being trafficked and exploited, says worker Geri Hennerman. “They are seen as nobodies and only good for cleaning, cooking, sex, and child-bearing,” she says. “They are often beaten verbally and physically. They have little—if any—encouragement, love, correct discipline, or teaching. They do not have good female role models to follow. Many are given for marriage at extremely young ages. They are seen as objects instead of real people.”
But the Light of Hope Learning Center, which Geri started more than 6 years ago, helps prevent impoverished girls from having this dark future. The center is a day shelter that gives girls education, life skills, health care, and moral training. The girls learn they are special and have great potential for living a transformed life. “They spend their days learning and growing in all areas—intellectually, morally, spiritually, physically, emotionally, and socially—instead of spending their days (and nights) out in their very dangerous and open areas, learning the ways of the world and getting into dangerous and trouble-type situations,” Geri says.
Love Calcutta Arts
The scarring influence of the sex trade does not affect just one generation in India. Despairing mothers often leave a legacy of poverty and prostitution to their daughters, who in turn carry on because they know no other lifestyle.
Enter Love Calcutta Arts. Their handicrafts unit enables young women to support themselves with dignity and help their mothers leave the sex industry. These hardworking women make high-quality handmade paper products in a loving environment where they learn of their Father’s love for them.
The cultural and artistic traditions of Central Asia have been preserved through the generations as women work together with their mothers and grandmothers creating masterful crafts. These items are as varied as the women who make them, with products reflecting the unique styles of individual crafters. Master’s Handicrafts and WorldCrafts are honored to offer these fair-trade treasures to you on behalf of the indigenous artisans in the cities of Kyrgyzstan.
A native of Myanmar’s infamous mining town began Mogok Inklings. Like most children, she played in the dirt, but unlike most, among the rocks and pebbles in her yard, the earth yielded fragments of rubies and semiprecious stones. Ironically, Mogok's underground riches, do not afford hopeful livelihoods or opportunities for its inhabitants. Consequently, the town's young population has been drawn away by the empty, better-life promises beckoning from the Thai and Chinese borders. Fueled by faith that has grown since her childhood, the now grown-up little girl acted on the idea of creating homegrown jobs using the smaller gemstones cast aside in the greed of the mining industry. Mogok Inklings now employs young people striving to finish school, and seeks to share hope with the artisans.
More Than Sparrows
More Than Sparrows artisans in Kigali, Rwanda, are growing in strength of spirit as well as new-found respect and dignity because they have worked together to leave their old lives behind. Discovering that they can learn new handcrafts which are valued by others has offered the artisans hope and the opportunity to prosper.
In 2013, a benefactor shared a reading from Matthew 10:31 with the artisans: "Fear not, therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows." These women were sex workers and street vendors, isolated women who were considered the lowest of the low, but this reading assured them that they had great value. Knowing their own worth brought them comfort and hope. Through their struggles they have discovered a sense of identity.
The artisans support each other, look after each other, listen to each other and take pride in what they do. They have become resilient and because of that, they now stand up and say, "We are More than Sparrows."
Mother Care Handcrafts
Mother Care Handcrafts helps disadvantaged artisans in Kenya earn a fair wage by using their skills in the centuries-old traditions of carving and basket making. Among the artisans are several women who have been rescued from prostitution, thanks to the jobs Mother Care offers. Sales provide guild artisans a way to feed and clothe their families, as well as affording them an opportunity to hear the offer of eternal life.
Mully Children’s Family
Mully Children’s Family (MCF) created Yatta Vocational Training Centre to restore young women broken by exploitation. Each year, the training center rescues approximately 100 victims out of this cruel bondage. When they arrive at the training center, these women receive counseling and learn vocational skills, computer training, and family care. They are also discipled in developing lives marked by eternal hope.
Young women like Felister Mwikali are taught beadwork, dress making, and design. Felister came to the center after being abused by a man who lured her out of her village with promises of a better life. However, he threw her out of his home when she became pregnant. Upon returning to her family, she was treated with disdain due to her pregnancy, and she was not allowed to attend school.
Because of the help of MCF’s training center, Felister has been able to save money and plans to start her own business.
Through their partnership with WorldCrafts, artisans at the training center earn a fair wage for creating beautiful handcrafted purses and jewelry. The crafter's dignity is being restored as they learn their own great worth.
Noah’s Ark is an innovative network of 100 fair-trade artisan groups, representing 600 individuals, across India. Artisans work with a variety of materials, including wood, paper, and metal, to create contemporary products using traditional methods. All workshops are committed to providing sustainable income in an environment of honesty and integrity. As Noah’s Ark grows it has been able to support schools for artisan children and provide filters for clean water.
In a small village in southwest Bangladesh, widows frantically search for work in order to take care of their young children. Because the widows are uneducated, they don’t possess marketable skills, and this leaves them with a bleak view of their future. But for the last several years, Peaceful Creations has partnered with the widows to sell their handmade items. By creating these items, more than 50 widows are now able to stay at home with their children while earning an income.
Proverbs 31 Women
Widowed. Destitute. HIV-positive. These words could be used to describe the women of the Proverbs 31 Women artisan group in Uganda. But as they make colorful, attractive beaded jewelry out of recycled paper—you’d never guess—their hearts join together in song and their faces light up with smiles of joy! Sales of their beautiful, handmade items provide badly needed income to meet their families’ most basic needs, such as food and rent. Today, words that best describe these Proverbs 31 women would be hopeful, encouraged, full of thanksgiving, and praise!