The bracelet was hand-crafted in Ethiopia, and the beads are made from old bullet casings— you can read more about how it’s made here. The bracelet is stunning and tells an inspiring story— just like the women who made it.
Raven + Lily’s partner workshop on Entoto Mountain in Ethiopia primarily employs at-risk, HIV-positive women. By working with Raven + Lily on products like our new bracelet, staff not only get sustainable employment, but also gain access to educational opportunities and medical care.
Here are the stories of three women who work for Raven + Lily’s partner workshop: Amleset, Adissalem and Elsabet.
My family and I used to live in the city. We heard on TV about HIV. My husband was working for the military and was becoming sick a lot so he decided to go and get tested. He found out he was positive, then I found out I had it as well.
I used to beg on the mountain…my life was very bad. Begging is like being dead. My husband…introduced me to the [jewellery workshop]. I am so thankful for the opportunity.
[At first] I was frustrated because the jewellery making was very complicated. But, now I am happy when I come to work…Now you can go into my home and there is food there. Thinking about this makes me want to cry.
I was born and raised in Addis Ababa. My parents were very poor and I had five siblings, two of [whom] had special needs. When I was young I used to carry wood down the mountain into town to help earn money for our family. 13 years ago I found out I was HIV positive.
One day while begging I saw people from the [jewelry workshop] walk by, so I asked them what they were doing and told them I wanted to finish my education. They told me about the jewellery training programme for women on the Entoto Mountain, and they invited me to join.
I met a good man who also has HIV here and we are now married…My goal is to help save money so my husband can start his own business and also earn income.
When I came to the [jewellery workshop], I was married and pregnant with my son. At the same time my husband found out that he was HIV positive. My son and I were both tested and came out negative.
After we moved [to Entoto], [my husband] left me for another woman…I started to beg on the streets for money; it was all I could do.
I heard about the [jewellery workshop’s] education program so I began attending…[and] they invited me to be part of the jewellery-making programme. I was worried because I have had many bad things happen in my life, but after coming to the programme I was happy and got to experience many good things.
The women at this project are now my family. My goals are to save enough money to move into the city. We have started savings accounts now and I am so glad because this will help me reach my goals.
For more powerful stories about the artisans behind Raven + Lily’s products, check out their website.