My anthem for 2018 was “Courage”. Courage to step out and do what’s been on my heart, push myself in new ways, and be who God created me to be. I’ve decided to carry over that same focus into 2019, because I’m so inspired by others who live with courage each and every day - often because they have to.
The artisan women at Fashion & Compassion are some of the very women I find so inspiring. They’re women healing from addiction, incarceration, generational poverty, human trafficking, and more. These women share different experiences and tremendous hurt, but through their work with Fashion & Compassion, they come to build trust and fellowship with each other by making jewelry. They gather around a table and make jewelry together as a source of part-time work and personal development, spiritual growth, and fellowship. It’s a place for the women to share in each other’s hardships and joys alike. Each woman also creates a development plan tailored entirely to her future goals, leading to reconciliation and stability. The experience is a wonderful mix of learning soft skills needed in the workforce, while restoring dignity and relationships - all while making BEAUTIFUL jewelry!
As founder, Michele Dudley, says in her Fashion & Compassion blog, “Our mission has nothing to do with making jewelry…jewelry is merely the tool we use to gather women and provide them with a gentle re-entry into the workforce”. Join me in reading the story behind Fashion & Compassion - it’s quite inspiring itself!
Proceeds from the jewelry go to pay the women for their artisan work. Some have since celebrated new job opportunities, after which an organic alumni group formed. This time, without pay and just purely for fellowship with friends! I think this is such a beautiful testament of what Fashion & Compassion does in and through these women!
The organization originated near Charlotte, NC in 2013 and has since built partnerships with organizations in 6 other countries, each offering unique jewelry with its own cultural flair!
BoHia (Because of Him I Am) - This collection was inspired by words the artisans think of when they consider their identity in Christ. The metal bars for the crosses are made in Mexico and the words of identity are stamped onto the jewelry by women in Charlotte. How beautiful is that?
Community - This collection is comprised of handcrafted jewelry made in Mexico & Honduras. Artisans work in a small town in a remote area of Mexico at a metalsmithing shop to make the items. In Honduras, leather goods such as handbags and wallets, are made by young boys who were previously living on the streets. There, they go to school while also making the goods!
Dignity - Made in Uganda, this collection features traditional, paper bead jewelry made by women displaced by war. Women in this community fund village banks with some of their proceeds to support local women who need a loan to start a business.
Freedom - This collection is “made by women overcoming poverty, injustice, and exploitation in the United States”. This jewelry is close to home, made near Charlotte, NC. I fell in love with my first piece of jewelry right there, in their hometown!
Hope - Made by human trafficking survivors in Ecuador, this jewelry is eco-friendly and supports women with a place to live and education.
Peace - Baskets are handwoven by survivors in Rwanda of the 1994 Genocide. Women from both tribes now sit next to each other in reconciliation while they weave. Many of these “peace baskets” take 40 hours to make!
Restore - Located in the capital city of Ethiopia, women who are HIV positive create jewelry out of melted bullet casings, coins, and leather. Proceeds help them pay for medication they need.
Isn’t it amazing the number of different ministry partners Fashion & Compassion collaborates with? People around the world endure so much, yet they’re so strong. I’m very motivated by the sheer fact these women have experienced tremendous hurt in their lives, have been forced to live in unjust situations, or have had to fight to live on a daily basis - and they continue to gracefully move forward! When I consider what they’ve experienced, I can’t help but feel inspired to be stronger, braver, and more courageous. Because if they can endure such difficult situations, I certainly can rise up and endure more too.
In what ways are you inspired by these women?