I have a complicated relationship with jewelry. Unlike most women it seems I don’t like wearing any. That goes for necklaces, rings, bracelets, earrings…everything. The exception to this rule though comes into play when the jewelry has personal meaning or a story behind it that touches me. In that case I will happily wear whatever bauble it is with pride and a little smile every time I look down at it or touch it. These pieces with such significance are rare for me though.
When I walk into a jewelry store or a department store I find those pieces are cold and meaningless, even if I can admit they are pretty. At thrift stores, yard sales, and estate auctions, I like to look at the items and imagine the person who used them and what their story was. If I am able to learn of their story or if they remind me of some meaningful part of my life journey then I might actually buy. This doesn’t happen often though which is why I can fit all my jewelry possessions in a small box.
These lovely necklaces (or earrings) are paper bead pieces made by six women who live in the Namatala slum of Mbale, Uganda. They live on 1000 shillings (or .40 cents) per day and this company is designed to help them start their own small business selling their art in the global marketplace so they are able to stand on their own two feet. The woman owners have worked in Nepal, China, Thailand, Mexico and Italy on similar projects but 1000 Shillings was born out of Uganda and the work they started there.
The goal of 1000 Shillings is that you get to know the woman you are buying from, and then, through purchasing her products, you help her to become a self-sufficient businesswoman that is able to support her family.
I cannot even imagine a better reason to wear jewelry…knowing the story behind the woman who made it and why she is making it and then in turn helping her better her life and realize her dreams with your purchase. The items are named after the woman in Uganda that made them and it tells her story on the product page. My favorite it is the necklace you see above called “Elizabeth”. It took me all of five minutes to see it and read her story (with tears falling down my face) before I purchased. I cannot imagine living through the things she has or trying to sell yams just to get by and feed my children.
Perhaps on some level I don’t like to wear baubles because it feels wrong to wear adornments like that when so many have so little but this necklace (when it comes) I have a feeling will be worn daily with pride because it has meaning and the simple act of my wearing it may have (hopefully) made someone’s life a little better.
Compassionate jewelry purchases, either for myself or as gifts for others, I can get behind with gusto!
Please, please visit 1000 Shillings and see what they are all about yourself.
This post was written as a member of the Global Team of 200 a group of mom bloggers banding together to work for social good.
Sunday, December 9th, 2012