LARUEL GUNNARSON WORKING WITH THE LADIES OF The Didi Jewelry Project
Remember the above photo of Laurel Gunnarson working with the women of The Didi Jewelry Project? It was taken a little over a year ago during her last trip to India. This year, instead of taking her annual trip, she finally decided to do what she's been avoiding for a long time.
The Didi Jewelry Project teaches women facing extreme hardships in India the skill of jewelry making so they can have the means to create a life they deserve.
You may recall from our interview with Laurel last year our surprise to discover that the Didi Jewelry Project is entirely funded by Laurel herself. In fact, Laurel often works several jobs in addition to managing the Project to make The Didi Jewelry Project possible.
This year, Laurel sat down and took a candid look at things. And she arrived at a hard truth. As much as she has taken the right steps to get The Didi Jewelry Project where it is today, her efforts alone are simply not enough. In order to make a concrete difference in the lives of the women that the Didi Jewelry Project helps, the Project needs to do more. It needs to grow enough to provide a steady stream of work for the women who are already part of the Project. It also needs to increase its reach so she can help more women rise above their hardships.
This is Champa. She has been a part of the Didi Jewelry Project for several years. Here is what she has to say about her experience...
"Since I have engaged myself in making jewelry, I feel happy. I have gained confidence now that I can do something to take care of my family. Earlier...I used to just think about my disease. Now, I'm earning and supporting my family and I don't have time to worry."
Champa is a widow and a mother of two children. She is also a victim of HIV. When she married her husband, she had no way of knowing that her husband was HIV positive. Now a widow, she is left with a life threatening disease and two children to care for, in a society that believes that a widow does not even deserve to feel joy again. The Didi Jewelry Project provides hope for women like Champa. The Didi Jewelry Project helps make a new life possible.
Laurel reached out to us over the weekend to let us know that she has taken an important and vital step to ensure that The Didi Jewelry Project can continue to help women like Champa. She is fundraising and needs everyone's help. https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-didi-jewelry-project--2
Now we can all help make it possible for the Didi Jewelry Project to succeed. We can each make a small contribution to The Didi Jewelry Project so women like Champa can continue to work. We can make it possible for Champa to continue to feel the incredible joy of being able to work and provide for her children...something we often take for granted.
Go here to contribute directly to the fundraiser: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-didi-jewelry-project--2 When you purchase a Didi original on our Jay + Renae website, we will donate 100% of the proceeds to The Didi Jewelry Project fundraiser. As a thank you for your contribution, you will also receive 50% off any purchase of Rebecca Scott Jewelry purchased today on our website.* Please use coupon code: DidiThanksYou
The fundraiser ends today so please go now and take this opportunity to make a difference in these women's lives.
*Please note that Rebecca Scott Jewelry must be purchased together with The Didi Jewelry Project in one transaction to activate the 50% discount on Rebecca Scott Jewelry.
Below is our interview with Laurel last year.
What is your favorite part about going to India and working with the women of
The Didi Jewelry Project?
I love going to India and being able to share something I love with the ladies of The Didi Jewelry Project. They are all so eager to learn and grateful for the work. The idea that jewelry making can help better the lives of these ladies and their families is very exciting to me. And it’s always a reality check to go back to India… I realize how amazing, beautiful and kind people can be despite such harsh realities! It truly inspires me.
Also there is something very amazing about communicating when there is a language barrier that always leaves me in awe about humanity. I know very little Hindi and they know little to no English, but somehow we communicate. It is not just that they are able to learn to make the jewelry, but that we are able to read and understand each other on a deeper level. We understand and can read each other's emotions, sometimes even better than you can with someone who speaks the same language. Being able to connect with the ladies in this way is really very special.
Was there anything that made this trip particularly memorable/significant?
This trip was really significant to me because I feel like I am beginning to see how the Project is slowly helping these ladies. They are more confident and happy, and tell me that it is because of this work! This is very encouraging and motivating. The ladies whom I have worked with before were excited to learn new designs and caught on very quickly. I was also very impressed with some of their designs!
It was a great productive trip. It was a joy spending my days teaching and designing jewelry, sipping chai and singing silly songs.
When you purchase any of The Didi Jewelry Project original designs on our Jay + Renae website, we will donate 100% of all proceeds directly to the The Didi Jewelry Project fundraiser.
Laurel started The Didi Jewelry Project because she wanted to make a lasting impact on these women's lives. As she describes it, Laurel fell in love with India during her first trip there as a teenager. She was mezmorized by the sights, sounds, smells and beauty around her. But she was equally struck by the poverty and inequality that she witnessed. Over the course of several years, Laurel traveled to India to volunteer at a number of NGO's working closely with women and children. Through this work, she learned of the hardships these women and children faced.
Young girls who are victims of sex trafficking
Children who are forced into child labor
Women who are HIV positive and left to die on the streets
Widows who are stigmatized and thought should never experience joy again
The core goal of The Didi Jewelry Project is to give these women the means to help create the life they deserve.
“Our mission is to provide Indian women engulfed in hardship with an opportunity for change. By teaching them jewelry making and selling their products, we empower women financially and personally.” Laurel Gunnarson