Eden Ministries serves to restore freedom for the captives of Asia’s red-light districts through holistic programs—transforming body, mind, and spirit. Young women rescued from human trafficking and sexual exploitation are provided a new career, skill training, and counseling—empowering young women for a new life and future.
Eden’s jewelry is handcrafted by rescued young women like Yen. Yen was full of anticipation when her older cousin promised a well-paying job at a restaurant in the big city. However, when Yen arrived in the city, she was immediately drugged, locked in a brothel, and forced into sex slavery. At first she cried daily, but she soon learned to force down her tears, as the boss threatened to burn her with hot water if she cried again. After Yen met Eden’s street outreach, she was rescued and is now starting a new life at Eden.
Eden Ministries’ calling is to be a voice to the oppressed, a light to the darkness. Partners like WorldCrafts help enable Eden Ministries to live out this passion and employ more rescued young women.
With a mission to restore hope to exploited women in Asia, Starfish Project established a socially responsible jewelry company in 2006 as a means to offering meaningful alternative employment, vocational training and educational grants, and a wide array of social programs to women trapped in exploitative situations. Each woman who leaves an exploitative situation for employment at Starfish Project is given opportunities to heal her physical and emotional scars in ways that transform every aspect of her being, including in her relationships with family, friends, and colleagues. By operating under three main values—the holistic transformation of lives, implementing ethically based business and organizational practices, and raising up local leadership—Starfish Project continues toward a vision of seeing every woman valued. Each piece of jewelry purchased directly funds the empowerment of exploited women in Asia.
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. They are taught 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.
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 year, Peaceful Creations has partnered with the widows to sell the women’s handmade items. By creating these items, more than 50 widows are now able to stay at home with their children while earning an income.
Dire poverty has struck many families in Cambodia, leaving them hopeless. Many women even sell their young daughters for a certain amount of time until they can find a way to make more money. However, an artisan group called Kingdom Creations gives the women a chance to keep their daughters and earn cash by making beautiful hand-sewn products. Now, they joyfully work on their projects in their bamboo huts, knowing they can provide a future for their daughters.
Rescue is only the first step on the path to restoration for victims of exploitation and trafficking. Even after extensive therapy and time to heal, former victims are extremely vulnerable to being exploited again if they have no ability to earn a viable income and provide for themselves and their families. Without skills and jobs, the likelihood of being in harm’s way again is almost guaranteed.
Sak Saum recognizes this reality and is committed to ensuring that those in their care are equipped with skills, employment, and earn fair wages in a safe, loving environment. They also seek to pre-empt exploitation by equipping and hiring the most vulnerable in the local community before they fall prey to traffickers.
Every Sak Saum product is made by someone who now has skills and work with dignity. By purchasing a Sak Saum product, you are ensuring that the work of rescue, restoration, and transformation continues.
Treasures from the Heart
In Cambodia, AIDS is a growing crisis. The disease currently claims 4 percent of the population. Treasures from the Heart trains AIDS survivors to craft handmade items to they can support their families. This fair-trade organization restores self-worth to these artisans, who are rejected by their neighbors and sometimes their own families. The work gives them the hope to live with dignity. With counseling for victims, the organization invests personal time into every artisan it serves.
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.
Hearts and Hands
In Yunnan Province, China, men and women with disabilities develop new skills and earn income through employment as artisans with Hearts & Hands. Those who are Deaf or otherwise physically limited—who previously found little prospect for survival—now realize “plans that will prosper and not harm them, plans for a hope and a future.” Huang Li, who leg was amputated as a child, is one artisan whose life has been changed. When asked what her sewing work means to her, she gave thanks to God, saying, “We can eat.”
Threads of Yunnan
Although women in Yunnan, China, performed backbreaking field work all day with little rest, they made only $36 a year—not enough money to feed their children and send them to school. Now, with the help of Threads of Yunnan, they are able to use their embroidery skills to make $12 a month. Also, the artisan group trains women in literacy, hygiene, nutrition, and money management, giving these women a brighter future.
In a former Soviet region convulsed by centuries of conflict, Caucasus Wood offers meaningful, sustainable employment for those in poverty. The artisan group employs women and men, young and old, all skillfully continuing age-old traditions working with wood and metal. Their raw material of choice comes from a local dogwood, or kizil, which yields a very sturdy type of wood and is often used for cart axels.
Kanzi offers handmade, fair-trade jewelry and crafts from artisans across East Africa. Not only does Kanzi help develop a market for these artisans, it also donates a portion of sales to support orphans and children at risk in Uganda, enabling them to get much needed food, clothing, shelter, education, and spiritual care. These children are otherwise at risk of being forced into sexual exploitation or heavy manual labor in the fields or rock quarries.
Artisans at Tabitha Ministries in Guatemala make exquisite products out of seed beads. The group employs 8 artisans who are able to provide much-needed income for their families through their work. Maria is an artisan who can support her school and family with the money earned from products sold through WorldCrafts to purchase things like firewood and corn. She works so hard to overcome herself and family. That is why she is studying business administration, but she won’t be able support her home without this job, and doing bead work is all she can do well to earn money.
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.
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.
Many girls and even women in India are viewed as burdens to their families. But through Ergon Handicrafts, women are given the opportunity to be seen as contributors to their families rather than burdens. Ergon is a handicrafts center based in Jaipur, India, that seeks to empower women with job skills, income, and confidence through fair-trade employment. Most of the women who work for Ergon are uneducated and extremely poor. Previously they had never been taught a special skill outside of housework. As they learn to make journals and cards, their confidence grows and many realize for the first time that they are valuable. This realization often softens their hearts so they are more receptive to learn of eternal matters.
With the income Nunni earns at Ergon, she is able to provide for her family with more nutritious meals. Salma is able to ensure that her daughter will receive an educations. Zareena is able to help pay rent for her husband’s rickshaw so he can continue earning money for their family. When Asma comes to the Ergon center each day, she is given a break from her role as the sole housekeeper for 6 other members of her home. Tabasum uses her earnings to help her family pay down a large debt they have accumulated. Mary is able to bless and care for other women in the slum. By investing in the lives of these women, Ergon Handicrafts is creating holistic change in northern India.
Each Freeset bag is more than just a stitched piece of fabric, it tells a story of freedom. For hundreds of women who were trapped in India’s sex trade it brings freedom from a life that robbed them of dignity and hope. At Freeset women are given the opportunity to choose a new job and regain control of their lives in a caring community. Making this bag is a part of their journey to freedom. To the thousands still trapped by prostitution, they are a symbol of hope.
In some villages of India, a woman may not remarry, even if her husband has passed away. This tradition forces women to become the sole provider for their children, even though they don’t have any marketable skills. Godavari Women, a group of artisans that creates crocheted lace items, allows women to completely depend on their artisan skills for their income. They also gain medical insurance, first aid, eye checkups, and free eyeglasses. Godavari Women’s dream is to teach and train all 25,000 artisans living in this area to use and hone their talents.
Within each stitch of the Himalayan Tapestry artisans’ handiwork is a story of illiteracy, abuse within marriage, and culturally conditioned gender discrimination. While these Indian women suffer quietly, they are expected to carry the financial burden of their families. The women come to Himalayan Tapestry with little education and no basic skills and learn to quilt, tailor, read, and manage money. Working with this organization not only enables women to make money from their new talents, it also enables them to receive crisis counseling, which brings financial and emotional comfort to their troubled lives.
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, including journals and cards, in a loving environment where they learn of their heavenly Father’s love for them.
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.
Mary grew up in an orphanage in India with a bleak outlook for her future. When time came for her to leave the orphanage she was deceived by an offer of marriage and found herself instead in a brothel. She escaped and tried to commit suicide multiple times, the last time by eating glass. A member of Rahab’s Rope artisan group found her dying in the street and brought her to the center. Many young women like Mary have found a lifeline at Rahab’s Rope, where they discover new opportunities as they make handcrafted jewelry.
Sewa Ashram in India exists to help transform the lives of the poor economically, physical, emotionally, socially, and spiritually, Amar Chand was living on the streets—addicted to drugs, broke from gambling, and seriously ill. He was battling spinal tuberculosis in a hospital when Sewa Ashram found him and moved him to a rehabilitation center. The disease left Amar paralyzed, but he found physical and spiritual healing through Sewa Ashram.
The young women of Shelano have come from the slums in the south of Kolkata, India. With their background and limited education, finding a job is difficult, if not impossible. By purchasing their handmade products, you are not only getting a fairly traded product, you are giving a woman an opportunity to take care of her family and invest in the future she now has. Each kantha is unique, made by a unique woman with her unique story. As it goes from her hands to yours, you are helping a woman earn some money of her own and contributing to her confidence and well-being.
Vijaya Deepam Trust
Vijaya Deepam Trust works with young women in their early 20s to mid-30s in India. These women come from impoverished backgrounds, and the money they earn through Vijaya Deepam Trust allows them to feed their children and pay for their education. All profits made through the sale of their products are shared among the women. Some of the women’s spouses are addicted to alcohol, leaving them to be the family’s primary providers.
As a result of globalization and ever-changing markets, Indian artisan groups are challenged to take the skills native to their various castes and trades and utilize them in more diverse and marketable ways. Many must educate and provide proper medical care for their families on only a few dollars a day. Village Artisans helps men and women fulfill their potential through their talents in creating beautiful handmade jewelry, scarves, bags, stationery, carved wood, and natural soap products. As a result, these talented and now empowered families are able to meet basic practical needs and provide hope for the next generation.
White Rainbow Project
The White Rainbow Project is transforming lives by sharing love with the widows of India. They provide vocational training, food, and medical care to destitute widows in Vrindavan, India. Vrindavan, known as the City of Widows, is home to more than 20,000 widows who have been abandoned by their families. White Rainbow Project is recycling hope for these widows by helping them create beautiful handmade products out of donated saris and old magazines. Recycling takes on a whole new meaning, as this is one of the only options widows have to support themselves. They have been told that they have “bad karma” and are blamed for the death of their husband. They are shunned, exploited, and denied any sense of dignity. Earning their own money gives them freedom to choose their own destiny, many for the first time in their life.
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.
Slowly and steadily, the Indonesia women weave their threads through felt circles onto pieces of felt that will eventually house children’s fingers as puppets. Since many of their husbands work jobs that don’t pay well, the women must earn additional income. That used to mean rolling cigarettes for pennies a day, Now, the women have teamed with Lifetouch Artistry to create finger puppets of all nationalities, which helps them afford groceries and schooling for their children.
Sauyunan, a Sundanese word, means “working together for the same purpose.” This is the goal of Sauyunan Handicrafts, Indonesia. Multiple families create beautiful beaded items, thereby supporting themselves with their artistry. As artisans fasten each bead, they realize their once-hidden talents. Though they begin as needy men and women, small loans, design assistance, and help connecting with the right markets empowers the artisans. Individuals and families gain dignity—not handouts. They also receive opportunities to study prepared lessons on life skills and values that influence their present and provide hope for a shining future.
For centuries, men and women in the Middle East have stitched their stories into a tapestry or carved them into olive wood. These age-old traditions are continuing to flourish with Glad Tidings in Jordan. From each sale of an item, the artisans, who are hearing-impaired, disabled, or disadvantaged, can afford to buy precious commodities such as food, clothing, shelter, and education. Despite their disabilities, the artisans joyfully finesse this traditional art, thankful that Glad Tidings did not turn them away as so many others had.
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 4 children, send them to school, give to her local church, and help their 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.”
As of December 2012, artisans reported that the project is benefiting more than 400 people. Back to Africa has seen firsthand how a small paper bead or simple ceramic pendant can profoundly impact a community halfway around the world.
Home Decor Crafts
Home Décor Crafts in Kenya provides men and women with opportunities to use their creative skills to earn income. Agnes Mbula, a mother of 2, has worked with Home Décor Crafts for 2 years and lives with her husband on the outskirts of Nairobi. Her work inspecting, sorting, and polishing products has enabled her to provide food for her family, pay rent, and educate her children. Agnes is just 1 of more than 26 individuals who work in the wooden products division of Home Décor Crafts. The income these individuals earn goes far beyond themselves to impact their 120 dependents.
Mother Care Handcrafts
Mother Care Handcrafts helps more than 400 disadvantaged artisans earn a fair wage by using their skills in the centuries-old traditions of carving, jewelry making, and basket making. Among the artisans are numerous women who have been rescued from prostitution thanks to the jobs Mother Care can offer. Sales provide guild artisans a way to feed and clothe their families, as well as affording them a chance to hear the offer of eternal life.
Deaf people face incredible obstacles to finding work and sustainable livelihoods in Kenya and other developing nations. As part of the larger DOOR ministry (Deaf Opportunity OutReach), Sasa Designs empowers Deaf women. These women struggle daily to overcome their physical limitations and provide for their families. Having been trained in beading, knotting, and wire-working techniques, artisans like Nancy and Peninah are now able to provide their families with plenty of nutritious foods, a consistent roof over their heads and education for their children.
Sema of Sema Leatherworks means “to speak” or “to say” in Swahili. The men behind the bracelets of Sema Leatherworks utilize their profits for their community and surrounding areas. These men, living in Nairobi, Kenya, work four days of the week on the product. The remainder of the week is spent applying their income to improve life for the people. They are able to assist in providing for physical needs while also providing holistically with encouragement and messages of eternal hope. Sema Leatherworks is witnessing transformed lives of people who once appeared hopeless with a simple message and encouragement of eternal hope.
The cultural and artistic traditions of Central Asia have been preserved through the generations was women work together with their mothers and grandmothers creating masterful crafts. These felt, leather, and wool items are as varied as the women who make them, with products reflecting the unique designs and stiles 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.
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.
In the Mexican city of Oaxaca, weaving is an ancient tradition throughout Zapotec villages. Traditionally, villagers have made large weavings to be used as large rugs or wall hangings that were sold to tourists. Recently, the demand for these large pieces has declined. Worried about losing this wonderful part of her family’s culture, a young woman named Lucy started developing smaller pieces of weaving such as wallets and purses. She and her family members dye the sheep wool using all natural dyes such as nuts, indigo plants, and even cochinilla that grows on a cactus pad! The extensive dying process takes at least two weeks to get from the sheep to the loom and then into a beautiful product. This amazing art form is so special to the Zapotec people of Oaxaca, Mexico. As you purchase these products, you will not only help preserve this beautiful ancient tradition but will also be able to help them have a sustainable living income with dignity and hope.
More than a decade ago, a potter created his first Nativity set based on one he had seen in a larger town, hoping to sell them to tourists who stumble upon the traveling market that comes to his lakeside village every five days. Displayed on bamboo tables spread with trinkets to attract souvenir shoppers, his simple clay figures so intrigued one foreigner that she set out to uncover the story behind their production. Surprisingly, she found the family of artisans knew little about the story of the figures they mold. From their first encounter, a relationship has grown, as well as a partnership, in which she links the artisans to larger markets for their product. Now through Inle Clay, his family is able to provide the health care required by each of its generations living within the same thatched walls, as well as bring economic and spiritual hope to their community!
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 semi-precious 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.
Tucked in a working-poor neighborhood in Myanmar's largest city is a fledgling home-based preschool. One family's desire to serve their surrounding Buddhist neighbors compelled them to leave meager but steady employment and rely on the practical help of friends and uncertain funds. Enter S.A.L.T. (Salt and Light Trading), whose hand-stitched products now support the day-to-day operations of the preschool, which teaches children about their Creator and provides otherwise inaccessible early childhood education to eager families.
Blessed Hope exists to provide creative work, skills development training, and true lasting hope to the women artisans and their families from villages throughout the Himalayan Mountains of Nepal. Labor and sex trafficking are both prevalent within Nepal and the jewelry making jobs and training Blessed Hope provides to the local women are helping to 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 propane gas to cook with and heat their homes.
Addis Ababa Ex Leprosy Women’s Group
Before finding this employer, all of these artisans—many of whom are single mothers—faced lives of homelessness. The Addis Ababa Ex-Leprosy Disabled Women’s Work Group of North Africa may sound like an atypical name for a crafts guild, but the artisans each have the physical challenges in common. Their histories range from surviving leprosy to living with HIV. In addition, they share a much more significant bond—their talents and calling in embroidery and sewing. Through the work group, many also develop business skills in sales and bookkeeping.
In the mountains of North Africa, the Berber artisans of the Leather Project skillfully craft leather scraps from a furniture and upholstery company into smooth purses, book covers, and book marks. This time-honored tradition helps them to earn money that supplements their jobs as subsistence farmers and shepherds. More and more, Berbers are forced to move to the city to look for business jobs, but this artisan group allows them to stay with their families in the mountains and provide for their needs.
Seeds of the Amazon
Women in Iquitos, Peru, were praying for a way to use their creative abilities to care for their families and extend the love of God to more than 25 villages along the Amazon River. Soon after, their prayers were answered by learning of the work of WorldCrafts. Seeds of the Amazon artisan group was born, and the women began handcrafting colorful bracelets. The income they earn allows them to not only provide for their families but also to freely offer their services to surrounding villages, many of which have been affected by heaving flooding from the nearby Amazon River.
As markets open up, the women of Igira Impuhwe [i-GI-ru im-HU-we] in Rwanda earn needed income from the sales of their eco-friendly, handwoven grass baskets. The artisan group lifts women, like Mukangenzi Laurance, out of desperate poverty. She now rents a home, has health insurance for her family, bought clothes for the children, and rents a garden to grow food. Each woman in the group is also presented with the life-changing offer of eternal life; Mukangenzi thanks God for changing her live. Igira Impuhwe means “God is compassionate” in Kinyarwanda.
More Than Sparrows
More Than Sparrows, an artisan group in Kigali, Rwanda, uses a holistic approach to break impoverished women from the bonds of sex trafficking. The group strives to address all parts of these women’s lives, including their social, economic, physical, and spiritual needs. More Than Sparrows provides an opportunity for women to have some kind of income by making craft items which will help them leave a life of prostitution and continue to support themselves and their families. With this income, the women can afford necessities of day-to-day living, such as sending their children to school, paying for medical insurance, and purchasing food. These women are also shown love and for the first time experience hope. In addition to craft training, the women meet weekly to participate in lessons in spiritual matters, literacy, small business planning, parenting, and health. Earning an income by making beautiful handmade crafts helps to restore these women’s dignity and self-esteem, which paves the way toward breaking the cycle of poverty.
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.”
Living in fear of their ancestors, the Zulu people of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, continually slaughter cows, goats, and chickens as sacrifices. They even attribute any illness, death, or calamity as a mood of an ancestor’s spirit that requires a sacrifice to appease. But, the people involved in the artisan group Wezandla, meaning “hands” in Zulu, have the opportunity to break free from this slavery. Each item they bead secures a paycheck for their poor families and the hope of freedom from fear.
Gospel House Handicrafts
Gospel House Handicrafts in Sri Lanka was established in 1983 in order to provide employment and training to poor, semieducated young adults in the field of making wooden toys, utility items, and ornamental handicrafts. They are currently providing full-time employment for numerous artisans and part-time employment for additional workers.
Manjual is the youngest and only girl in her family. She started at Gospel House Handicrafts in 2008 as a trainee in the packaging division and learned the packaging requirements very fast. She now works in quality control ensuring that every puzzle is just right before it ships out from Gospel House Handicrafts.
When girls are married in Sri Lanka, they like to already have their own furniture and gold jewelry. Manjual has been able to purchase and collect the items for her wedding, plus she has started a savings account. She is getting married soon and plans to start a family.
Although the Maasai women of Tanzania who formed Naapok-Nanyok are no longer nomadic, their lives resolved around livestock. The five-month dry season kills the grass, leaving the goats to die, meaning no milk for Maasai children. Each product sold creates a savings fund for new goats to replace any that die. In a recent year, the women saved $150 from their handmade products and bought 15 goats to nourish their children.
In many large cities around the globe a high cost of living coupled with the low wages of some professions can present harsh challenges for many urban dwellers. Napapawn and Panadda, two Thai women living in Bangkok, Thailand, saw first-hand the economic strain that many in their immediate community faced on a daily basis. Their local church was already reaching out to one particular community and Kieow and Pawn began meeting with some of the women there. They would spend time together in conversation and study and even began to crochet as a group. One day they tried their hand at sewing a simple handbag and Napada was born!
Napada now employs a group of women from this low-income community enabling them to better the lives of their families while forming community. Some of the women had very low paying jobs or tough schedules and others had no work opportunities whatsoever prior to becoming a part of Napada. Napada provides a creative outlet for these women while seeing them come to know eternal hope.
Pen, a 23-year-old estranged from her parents, started working full-time as dishwasher in the red-light districts of Bangkok, Thailand, at the age of 9. She continued to work in various jobs in go-go and show bars throughout Bangkok. The jobs varied, but the hypersexualized atmosphere stayed the same.
Pen’s life changed when Thom, herself a former go-go bar worker, met Pen one night. Thom informed Pen about the hope and love of God, which was shown to her through Samaritan Creations. Pen was interested, as no one has ever really shown her love, much less hope. Pen quit bar work, joining Samaritan Creations.
At Samaritan Creations, Pen, surrounded by patient and loving people, encountered a loving family unlike anything she had ever experienced before. To put it another way, Pen encountered the love of God. God’s love so overwhelmed her that she reached out to her fellow bar worker, Da, telling Da, “They really help and care for you.” Da soon quit bar work too.
WorldCrafts provides an outlet for the women of Samaritan Creations to not only sell products they produce but also to change their lives.
Samaritan Creations exists to rescue, restore, and empower women by the grace and love of God. By offering women an alternative income to prostitution, we both rescue them from the trap of selling their bodies and empower them to alter the course of their lives. Through the telling and living out of God’s love, the rescued women are restored to a right relationship with God and others. Via entrepreneurial training and funding, Samaritan Creations empowers women to return to their hometowns to plant churches, alter the local economy, and forewarn people of the trap of prostitution.
Thai Country Trim
Thai Country Trim serves as a safe haven for battered women to receive emotional and financial support. One example of this abuse: a woman was constantly abused by her family until she sought help at Thai Country Trim. Her family gave her the most chores around the house and consistently told her she was worthless. Now, this woman, along with about 300 other women, is employed by Thai Country Trim, Thailand, handcrafting items to earn a living and learning to heal from her past.
The talent and tranquility of The Well artisans belies their astoundingly difficult backgrounds: one was sold into prostitution by her family as a small child; several were teenage bar workers; and another was a single mom with no resources. They have discovered their own innate talent through careful training in Thai arts, and The Well has given them a sense of hope and a positive vision for their futures. Today, these women have dreams of opening their own businesses; becoming doctors, nurses, lawyers, and teachers; and sending their children to school.
Wandee is located in a northeast Thai village. This group of 6 women artisans creates beautiful leather wallets. These women are rebuilding their lives after leaving the sex industry. The single women use their income to provide for their children’s basic necessities. The income they earn is allowing them to not have to go back into the sex industry. Wandee is truly making an eternal difference in the lives of these women and their families.
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 Nativities 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.
Anatolian Advantage of Turkey offers local women, many of whom are uneducated and lack access to the traditional work sector, an opportunity to work from home, earning competitive wages while caring for their children. Gifted with traditional handicraft skills, the women make products for both domestic and international markets. Their additional earnings are typically used to buy food, clothing, and other basics for their children and relatives.
In the war-torn country of Uganda, the traumatizing impact of years of war on children—particularly girls—demands a targeted and comprehensive approach to facilitate successful psychosocial healing and community reconciliation. Increasingly, girls are being exploited at earlier ages and for more brutal uses, such as sexual slavery, chattel for trafficking, and as armed combatants. ChildVoice International has an emphasis on sanctuary, psychosocial and spiritual counseling, education, skill building, reintegration support, and access to basic health care, providing girls with the opportunity to develop assets to protect themselves against the vulnerabilities that for so long defined them, as well as achieve the restoration and wholeness that has long eluded them. Furthermore, ChildVoice’s programs are designed to help prepare these children, their families, and their communities for their transition home. Ninety-three percent (93%) of the girls ChildVoice has served in the last 6 years are back in their communities, raising their families and working in meaningful jobs, not dependent on aid or outside help.
At age 37, Betty is an experienced mother with 8 children. She had no one to help her with the children financially until she joined the ChildVoice jewelry program. Since working with ChildVoice, she is able to buy uniforms and books and send all 8 of her children to school—a large accomplishment in itself. Betty’s favorite part of the job is the bead rolling itself. She says she is grateful that people will continue to buy her jewelry through WorldCrafts, as it has helped her to make these opportunities in her life and her children’s lives possible.
Proverbs 31 Women
Widowed. Destitute. HIV-positive. These words could be used to describe the women of the Proverbs 31 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!
CWJC of Rusk County Texas
Kristina came from a background of abuse and drugs. After crying out to God to save her in her early 20s, she started a new chapter in her life by joining the Christian Women’s Job Corps of Rusk County, Texas. Tutors at the CWJC helped Kristina complete her GED, allowing her to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse. The CWJC of Rusk County exists to give women like Kristina a chance to get back on her feet. Women who come to them can receive instruction in basic job skills, GED and literacy tutoring, and English-as-a-second-language courses. They also have the opportunity to earn supplemental income by working in the small jewelry and crafts business at the site. Kristina designs the colorful Fruit of the Spirit Bracelet, which was the first product CWJC has offered through WorldCrafts.
Graffiti 2 Works
Graffiti 2 Works coaches adults in developing the physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual skills necessary to become the best he or she is capable of becoming. Learning sewing skills and selling products not only provides work and income but also helps build self-esteem, develop relationships with each other, and the opportunity to hear the offer of eternal hope.
Fleeing persecution in their native countries, such as Sudan, Bhutan, Burma, and Egypt, refugees often encounter new and threatening challenges upon arrival in the United States. Children are drawn into crime, parents are treated with disdain and overworked, and even basic tasks seem like impossible puzzles. Refugee Beads exists to provide hope, a sense of community, and needed income for refugees living in the Atlanta area. The jewelry created by these women is marketed across America to benefit their families. Many of the women are the wives of refugee pastors serving their own people groups.
Due to poor hygiene and wartime Agent Orange’s lingering effects, many Vietnamese people are disabled physically and developmentally. Many are uneducated and unemployed. However, Q&A Handicrafts began training disabled people in design and production of quality handicrafts. Now 20 employees, 18 0f whom are Deaf or have other physical disabilities, work with this artisan group. This enables them to develop personal skills, provide for their families, and gain hope.
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.
As West Bank artisan shape and mold olive wood, they know each unique items means more than money earned. Carved by their hands, each product is inspired. And for these artisans, creating their art is not just a matter of shaping a piece of olive wood, it’s a powerful testimony of hope delivered from one generation to another for more than 2,000 years.