Confession: I have a bit of a thing for collecting jewellery. Not the super expensive gold and diamonds type jewels (although I’m fairly partial to a pearl or two), but I do have enough pretty things to adorn outfits for the rest of my life, and then a few more lifetimes after that.
And yet, when I spied yet ANOTHER very special necklace and bracelet, I just couldn’t resist.
Here me out, though, cause now I’m going to justify this wanton obsession. (Life rule: you can justify just about anything if you try hard enough.)
My big excuse is that the jewellery was purchased from a non-profit organisation whose work supports a really good cause. So, I figure it’s more a donation than a purchase. Just not tax deductible. And I get something lovely for it.
It was from the Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation, an organisation that works to restore health and dignity to women in Africa by treating and preventing the horrendous – and preventable – childbirth injury, obstetric fistula. That’s an internal injury caused by a prolonged, unrelieved obstructed labour, which leaves women incontinent, humiliated and cut off from their communities. Nasty stuff that women in developed countries don’t really have to think about.
The organisation was founded 60 years ago by two Australian surgeons, Dr Catherine and Reg Hamlin and started when they did a three-year posting to Ethiopia. They spent their lives dedicated to bringing treatment and education to the world’s most marginalised women who have suffered these terrible childbirth injuries. What a marvellous couple! I didn’t even know what a fistula was before I read about this organisation – because in Australia with decent medical treatment it’s not an issue. Now the foundation has restored dignity to over 60,000 women, an amazing number of lives transformed. Catherine Hamlin died earlier this year. You can read more about her here.
The particular jewellery pieces I spied when flicking through their online catalogue had an even more compelling story attached to them. They are made from discarded artillery shells scattered over the mountains of northern Ethiopia, the residual reminders of former war conflict. Local farmers collect and supply the shells to local artisans who melt them down to make delicate silver beads. These are then sent to a fair trade project which employs local women to make the jewellery in a safe community environment.
I mean, when I read that I really couldn’t resist. Wins all round. I do feel much better knowing about the work my purchase supports, even if I don’t need the extra bling.
And they’re so pretty!!
On top of that, at least this latest acquisition of jewellery was the result of an actual purchase using cold, hard cash (well, more accurately, an online credit card) rather than just gathering more jewellery from virtual strangers on holidays and in other devious though accidental ways.
If you haven’t finished your Christmas shopping, perhaps take a look at their catalogue of lovely fair trade goodies. There’s more jewellery, bags, scarves, homewares, kitchen items, gifts for babies and cookbooks and spices. Even a yoga mat. In a very 2020 way, there’s also a selection of cotton face masks!
I was sorely tempted by the hand woven straw placemats too but I’m supposed to be clearing things out of my house rather than putting more in so I desisted. Just.
And remember, it’s not just shopping – it’s supporting good works.
There’s a number of other very worthwhile organisations that do similar gift catalogues which I’ve purchased from previously. For years my Mum would give all her kids World Vision goats or chickens, delivered to someone in need overseas, and I gave my own kids several as well. Here are a couple more to choose from:
Happy shopping! Or if you don’t like shopping, you can always check out the work of these organisations and just give them money instead! Or buy something for someone else, like a nightdress and a new dress for one of the women being treated.
So many choices!