One weekend “homework” assignment turned into a beautiful part of our organization. When women were asked to create bracelet samples using their stitching knowledge, most faces were frozen and blank. This culture isn’t one that fosters independence. It doesn’t celebrate creativity or individuality. Transfer this into years of education and imprinting it into the way the women live their lives, and this homework assignment was proving to be a much bigger deal than I thought. Monday morning came around and the women were beaming, proud to show off their work. Cutting out fabrics, Margaret exclaimed, “I’m a designer!” Talk about empowerment. These bracelet designs didn’t stay samples for long. The creations were incredibly unique and beautiful, and the women decided on 2 bracelets to start producing for income-generation in hopes of CiH becoming self-sustainable after this start-up period. Thus were born the Twist bracelet and Knot bracelet. With the announcement of our first purchase, the women cheered, whistled, screamed, and sang songs of joy. It’s not a bracelet. It’s someone telling the women that what they create, that who they are, is beautiful and worth investing in.
Our Clothed in Hope women branded our handmade chitenge (African fabric) products with the name “Chikondi” meaning “love” in their native tongue. Hope cannot exist without love. When a person wears a Chikondi bracelet, they’re not only wearing “love” but also giving HOPE. An idea, a simple task, represents the very heart of our organization, while providing valuable incomes for 11 incredible women.