Archive of ‘JUSTICE’ category

The Starfish Project

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of hosting a small party at my home to learn more about the Starfish Project. The founder of the organization was gracious enough to take some time to share her heart in starting this incredible work.

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Starfish Project was established in 2006 to empower exploited women in Asia.

According to their website…

The Project developed a socially responsible jewelry business in order to provide women with alternative employment and a range of holistic care services. Starfish Project provides opportunities for women to heal and grow through counseling, vocational training, language acquisition, family education grants and health care access, as well as providing housing in our women’s shelter.

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As of 2013, the Project had grown to support approximately 50 women, primarily through the jewelry company where women have taken on new levels of responsibility and leadership, and are able to provide for their families through meaningful employment.

You can read more about what they do here.

Any opportunity to have yummy food and wonderful friends in one place is always amazing, but this evening went beyond that as it gave us the opportunity to hear first hand the stories of women who are truly heroes in my book.

Many of these women have experienced unspeakable pain and difficulty, yet when given the chance, through the help of the Starfish Project, they have risen to the challenge and taken their lives back.

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The products that they create are truly beautiful; each one unique much like the women who’s names many of the pieces bear.   Not only does the Starfish Project provide the women will skills training to make the jewelry, but many of the women are also trained in other business-related skills and have continued opportunity for other educational and vocational training.

If you have not already done so, I would highly encourage you to take a look at their site and learn more about what they do.

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I mean, do you really need an excuse to go shopping?  Their pieces are a perfect compliment to any springy outfit you might be pulling out of your closet right about now and accessories are always a great way to liven up some of your regular favorites.

Take some time as well to read these amazing women’s stories.  The accessories are absolutely beautiful, but not nearly as breathtaking as the stories they represent.

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Each piece of jewelry, beautifully crafted, represents a new life for the woman who made it.  It symbolizes her strength in adversity and her will to make a new life for herself and her family.

I really can’t think of a better cause to support or a better excuse to go shopping!

 

 

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All photographs provided courtesy of Worldview Photography.

War & Peace

As you may know, I had the opportunity to visit the beautiful country of Bosnia Herzegovina last month.  I was enraptured by its majestic mountains; captivated by its warm and generous people; and completely heartbroken over its war-torn history.

If I’m honest, I don’t think I had a really clear understanding of the conflict that took place there in the 1990s.  At a time when I was crushing on boys and learning to tease my bangs (don’t hate!); there were children my age struggling for survival.  I know this, because I met them last month. I heard their stories of falling asleep in the basement listening to grenades explode outside.  I heard their stories of losing loved ones and living in constant fear.  One young woman told me,

“When you think you can’t take any more and you simply can’t go on… you just do”

My short visit there provided a graphic illustration to a spotty story line I remember hearing on the news growing up…bombs exploding…genocide…lives lost…hunger…armed forces advancing.

Nothing prepares you to see building after building blown out or riddled with bullet holes.  I certainly wasn’t prepared to see an entire graveyard with lines of gravestones as far as you could see, marked with the year 1993.

How could this be reality?  It certainly wasn’t mine.

I’ve fought my own battle to not leave the unsettling memories behind as I boarded the plane back to my own comfortable reality. I’ve been thinking a lot about this since I returned home.

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I think some of the most dangerous words in the English vocabulary are these…

US and THEM

These words divide. They remove the bonds of friendship.   They separate.  They put distance.

In some way I think it’s easy, perhaps even human nature, to think that because we speak a different language, live in a different land or look different that we are somehow separate or safe from the atrocities that take place in our world.

Just because it isn’t your reality, doesn’t mean it isn’t reality. 

I met people just like me.  People full of dreams.  People looking for love and acceptance.  People who want to provide for their families.  People who like to hang out with their friends, enjoy good music, like to make jokes, maybe even watch reality TV.   They’re just people… like you and me… and their lives were rocked at their most core level.

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I’ve struggled with why God would allow me the opportunity to see first hand the aftermath of war.  Why did it make sense that I would find myself plopped down in the middle of this beautiful people with so little to offer in the way of help?

I still don’t clearly have all the answers, but one thing that has consistently resonated within me is this…

They’re not the only ones.

Yes, the conflict in Bosnia Herzegovina has subsided right now, but what about Ukraine?  What about South Sudan?  What about the victims of human trafficking? What about Syria?

Do we know?  Do we care?  Do we realize that we are not exempt from the pain experienced?

This last week marked the three-year anniversary for the crisis in Syria.  I watched this video that outlines the experience of a child in Syria.  It guts me.  It tells the story of innocence lost and it’s not just the story of one child.

You can find out more about how you can champion the children of Syria here.

I know this post is a bit more serious than my average post, but I can’t shake this feeling.  Whatever little platform or spotlight I might have, I want to use it to shine the light on things that matter.  I think we have to be unsettled.  I think we have to confront our own comfort. 

Ignorance is not bliss.

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ProductLove: 31Bits

Product Love

My friend sent me the link to the 31Bits site yesterday and I fell in love.  I love their product. I love their story and I most of all I love their heart.

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They shared a great post on their blog yesterday called “The Value of Life.” How amazing are they ?!?!

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“See to it that you do the best with what you have been given.”

I think what I love most is that they are a perfect example of using what is in your hand to make a difference!  Check them out!

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Party For A Cause

There are more slaves in the world today than at any other point in human history, with an estimated 27 million in bondage across the globe.  Today, there are approximately 153 million orphans in the world and it is estimated that 19,000 children die each day from preventable causes.  In the U.S. over 400,000 children are living without permanent families in the foster care system.   Nearly 1 in 5 residents in Washington, DC are at or below the poverty line.

This is NOT ok.

I believe that everyone has something in their hand to give.  I am passionate about helping people see their own value and in turn see the value that they have to offer the world.  (In fact, here’s a post I wrote on the topic for the BeautifulYOU blog)

Perhaps you can’t rescue every enslaved girl or hug every orphaned child.  You CAN do something though.

Every single one of us has something that we are uniquely gifted at.

I love to plan parties.  That’s why I started Piccadilly.   I want to use what I love and make it how I love.  I decided from the outset of my business that 10% of everything that came in would go straight back out to the A21 Campaign to support the fight against human trafficking.  It’s not that complicated.  It’s just what’s in my hand to do.

How about you?

Do you like to throw parties?  Perhaps you’re more into sports? Knitting? Running? Under-water basket weaving?

I know you are good at something.  Would you consider using your skills for a greater good?

Here’s a few fun ideas!

I believe in you.  YOU CAN DO IT!

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Les Misérables

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I’m sitting here wrecked in the best possible way…

How I’ve made it through thirty years of my life without knowing the full story of Les Misérables I will never know, but tonight I saw it and I’m completely undone.  From my seat in the second row, with my neck straining to see fully, I watched the story of lives unfold.  Lives touched by sorrow, pain and desperation.  More than the music and the beautiful cinematography, I was enthralled as the story of grace and redemption was unfurled across the screen.

I’m not going to re-tell the story here.  I wouldn’t do it justice and heartily recommend you go see it while it is in the theater.  I will say this though, the story throughout shows the line between law and grace.  It captures the picture of those who live by what is “right” and miss salvation entirely.  The law brings them purpose momentarily but they miss THE purpose completely.  I think often many people think of God in that light.  Someone with a list of laws you must obey.  He’s not though.

He is grace.

He is not characterized by the marching armies or the dogmatic soldier.  He is the priest who gives his candlesticks.  The prisoner who lifts the carriage.  The nobleman who carries the revolutionary.  The father who loves the daughter.  He is grace personified. As they sing in the end “when you love someone you see the face of God”.

It’s easy for us to sit in our comfortable theater seats and pride ourselves on how far we’ve come as a society.  How such pain and suffering does not exist in such extremes… but we are lying.

It does exist.

Anne Hathaway said that she watched documentaries on contemporary sexual slavery to prepare for the role. She said “This injustice lives in this world.  This isn’t acting, this honoring the pain that exists in this world.”

People are hurting.  Whether they truly live in outright slavery or if their lives are those of quiet desperation enslaved by any number of heartaches.

The grace woven through Les Misérables is still the cure for hurt today.  The law still remains powerless to cure what ails us.  Grace is still the only way.

It’s not often that I see something that causes me to write or often that I share my thoughts quite so freely.  Perhaps this story did what its author, Victor Hugo intended.  It caused me to stop and think.  It caused me to evaluate and most of all to realize my desperate need for grace.

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