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HCJ Gala Raises Over $10,000 Benefiting Largely Poor Communities Across Asia and Africa

HandCrafting Justice had great success this year with its spring fundraising gala, which supports handmade crafts made by artisans at fair wages that live and work in impoverished communities across the globe.

Photo from HandCrafting Justice’s spring fundraising gala taken by Kyriaki Venetis.

“Over $10,000 was raised during the event from combined ticket sales, the silent auction, and the sale of products,” said Teresa Baxter, publicity coordinator with HCJ. The vast majority of the products at the event came from cooperatives of women working to rise up from socially difficult and impoverished circumstances throughout Asia and Africa.

HCJ is a non-profit project of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd that markets over 1,000 different items through its website, wholesalers, and special events.

Photo from HandCrafting Justice’s spring fundraising gala taken by Kyriaki Venetis.

This event included hand-woven handbags made at the Euphrasia Center for Women in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, as well as in other localities in the country, including Embu and Kangeta-Meru.

In Nairobi, the center offers shelter and services to numerous poor women and girls – especially adolescents and orphans – that are often the victims of violence, prostitution, and abuse.

Today, the community in Nairobi similar to the one in Embu runs three operations: a crisis center, a training center for women, and an income-generating project for women. The crisis center also takes in women from outside of Kenya, including from Rwanda, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Tanzania.

The training program at the center provides the women with courses in learning how to knit, weave, and tailor different products, including necklaces, baskets, bags, tablecloths, and clothes.

Specifically, the Euphrasian Kiondo Basket Weaving Project, located in Nairobi, Embu, and Kangeta-Meru, works to create a sustainable source of income for some of the poorest women by providing skills training, a production facility, and marketing the basket weaving.

The Sisters of the Good Shepherd explain that, “Pay to trainees and later graduates is 50 percent for every basket made and sold, which creates social and economic support among trainees who will eventually run their own projects.”

Baxter added, “I like the aspect that it’s a sustainable business practice. All HCJ products are 100 percent fair trade, and everything we generate goes right back to the cooperatives.”

This year’s spring fundraising gala also featured Isan pottery, as well as 100 percent hand-woven cotton handbags, including large rope-handle totes from the Isan Weaving Group from the Nong Kahi province of Thailand.

The Isan region is located on the Khorat Plateau, bordering the Mekong River. The Isan region is one of the poorest places in Thailand.

Items at the gala from the Isan region also included scarves with 100 percent hand-woven cotton, batik raw silk scarves, as well as shawls with natural dyes in the colors of yellow, pink, and beige.

Photo from HandCrafting Justice’s spring fundraising gala taken by Kyriaki Venetis.

The gala also featured items like bracelets and necklaces, as well as canvas pillowcases and runners from Dignity Designs, which is a partnership between Italian designers and artisan craftswomen in Thailand.

Photo from HandCrafting Justice’s spring fundraising gala taken by Kyriaki Venetis.

Baxter talked about Dignity Designs, saying, “We had gotten a grant where we were able to create a relationship between Italian women artists and women in Thailand who make very indigenous crafts. They cooperate in the designs to create contemporary products that have a more western market appeal.”

The Dignity Design collections include Thai crafts in home décor accessories, jewelry, and baby items made within the Networking Our Way Out Of Poverty project by Thai artisan women working at Good Shepherd centers in Bangkok, Chiang Rai, and Nong Khai.

Also among the featured items at the gala were several beautiful three-in-one reversible fairytale dolls made at the Fatima Center of the Good Shepherd Sisters in Thailand. Among the dolls was a Little Red Riding Hood that changed into the Big Bad Wolf and Grandma. Another doll was a Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs that could transform into the Evil Queen and Prince Charming.

The Fatima Center provides women and girls – mainly from nearby slums and government housing – the opportunity to learn basic skills that enable them to earn a decent living. The sisters say the women at the center receive a just wage for producing handicrafts such as toys, children’s clothes, and quilts, as well as embroidered table and bathroom linens.

Also featured at the gala were dinosaur mobiles made as part of the Hands of Hope project by villagers living with HIV in Nong Khai, Thailand.

Hands of Hope provides women and children with services in education, health issues, as well as tools and resources to become economically self-sustaining.

Hands of Hope explains that its areas of focus include:

  • Giving poor rural families training and credit opportunities to start businesses such as poultry farming, poultry feed production, and bio-fuel crops.
  • Establishing market infrastructure to ensure that farm families receive fair market prices for their crops.
  • Supporting education for impoverished children.
  • Providing wells to supply clean drinking water.
  • Developing irrigation systems to ensure crop sustainability through long periods of drought and to increase crop cycle productivity.
  • Addressing medical needs through the building and support of clinics.

The HCJ spring gala this year was a great success in helping raise money to support all of these initiatives. Also in support of the event, AOL donated the space for the event at its corporate headquarters in New York City, and Citibank donated $1,000 for food and refreshments.

Reader comments and input are always welcomed!

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