I once talked to a woman who lived on a sidewalk beside the road in a lean-to shelter in a busy city in India. When asked where she was from she replied, “From here.” “From here? No, where did you live before you came here?’
“I’ve always lived here.”
“OK, you’re from this city. Where in the city?”
“No, I’m from HERE.”
This woman was probably in her 50’s. Upon further questioning she said she’d been born beside that patch of road, raised there, had her own children there, raised them and lived there still. She pointed to her grown son nearby who got menial labor jobs when he could to basically keep them from starving.
We spent a bit of time talking to this lively lady, who smiled easily in spite of the hand that life had dealt her. I realized that she wouldn’t even know HOW to live in the space of four walls and a roof. That she wouldn’t even know how to do the most basic menial tasks indoors that I took for granted.
I was dumbfounded and pondered the implications of that.
From a First World context we often assume that the cycle of poverty can be easily broken if someone just gets a bit of education, works a bit harder, applies themselves; but it’s usually a whole lot harder than that and one style of transformation certainly doesn’t fit all.
Teaching women a trade and giving them an opportunity to work, like the organizations that Holding Hope Collection jewellery comes from do, is a step in the right direction. But each of these social enterprises does so much more than that for their women. They teach them practical and life skills, offer healthcare, give educational opportunities, and most of all provide them with a community to work out just what ‘progress’ and healing looks like in their unique situation. They address the whole person right where they are in their cultural context and individual circumstances. Allowing for change, real change, to occur in their lives and affecting generations to come.
What a privilege it is for me to promote the jewellery that they’ve made and allow others to become part of their story of transformation!