Two and a half years ago Prestbury Methodist Church in Pietermaritzburg (80 km inland from Durban) became involved in the most exciting project I've ever known for making an impact on children in our nearby informal community of Phayiphini. The ‘Jewels’ in the title are the orphaned and vulnerable children/teenagers who come together once a week in a 'connect group' of 5 children with a trainer (a lady from the community who is also benefiting from this program). They are given a meal, taught the Gospel and life skills, receive love, support and encouragement in their everyday lives, and also how to make really beautiful jewelry. It’s wonderful to see how they grow in self confidence and take such pride in making the jewelry, which we sell wherever we find markets all over the world. The project is self-sustaining, in that the sales enable us to give each child a small sum each month ($30 to $36) which they usually use to help support their families. We also encourage them to save, and one teenager last year took the $100 he had saved that year to buy windows for his granny’s house. Another has already saved over $200 towards his tertiary education (several years away still). The project also pays for the meal they have at each meeting, buys the new stock of beads etc to make the next term’s jewelry, and pays for essential items such as new school uniforms. We also try to expand their limited boundaries, and an example of this is that all the children recently enjoyed a 5 day holiday at the coast – the first holiday most of them had ever had.
Apart from the 2 groups in Pietermaritzburg, affiliated to Prestbury Methodist Church, there are presently also groups in Ladybrand, eastern Free State, and Lesotho.
The jewelry is packaged with a bright label telling who has made the item, a little about the project, and how money from sales is used.
In order for the project to continue we need individuals and churches overseas to partner with us, by helping to sell the jewelry. A church that is willing to support us in this way will receive a consignment of jewelry 3 times a year – or as many times as they feel able to cope with. We usually receive 3 new design ranges a year for the groups to make, so each consignment has different items in it (key rings, Bible bookmarks, necklaces, earrings, bracelets) ranging in price from about $6 to $20 per item.
In addition we would keep you informed about the progress of the children in the project you support, so that your congregation will feel they are sharing in these youngsters’ lives, and not just buying from an anonymous source.
Jewels of Hope has an American bank account into which payments can be made. But Asbury United Methodist Church in Allentown, PA, transfer the money direct into our South African bank account. Either way is acceptable. We are also trying to set up a PayPal system for payments.
Our website is presently under construction, but you can view it at www.jewelsofhope.org.
With best wishes,
To download a flyer, click here.