Click here to explore the website - http://www.handsofhopenongkhai.com
The Hands of Hope project begun in 2005, provides villagers living with or affected by HIV/AIDS with creative and dignified employment. The producers currently handcraft 599 original designs of cards, decorations, mobiles, and gift items, using ‘saa’ paper as the main medium– sustainably made in Thailand from the mulberry tree. They receive a just income for their work, health care and transportation assistance, as well as a community of friendship and support.
‘HIV ‘is the shared reality but it is not what defines us. Before the project’s 12th birthday was marked at the beginning of 2017, we decided together, on a new tagline for our products which you see above, for we are a people who embrace LIFE.
Every one of our products is an original design - with over 80% of designs coming from the producers themselves. At the end of every year, a Design Workshop is held and it is within this creative and energized environment, that new ideas, designs and products are born. Designers receive a special commission on every product of theirs that is ordered, recognizing the creative talent that provides work for everyone.
Every one of our products is skillfully and lovingly drawn, cut and pasted by HAND - with each task, ability assigned. (Some producers have vision impairment or hand tremors and so are provided work which they are able to manage.) Products pass through many hands along the production chain.
Product embellishments include wire, beads, saa string, ribbon and bells, but always at the heart of the product…’saa’ paper.
Every one of our products is a gift of hope – both to the producer, who embraces the opportunity by which they can help themselves, and to the customer, who through the product, connects to the lives of the people here and knows who their purchase is assisting.
Click here - 2017 Hands of Hope Catalogue
Click here - New Designs Catalogue - Cascade Collection
To place wholesale orders, discuss custom made products or need more information, contact:
Antonia Symonds - Hands of Hope Project
916 Prachak Rd Nongkhai 43000 Thailand
Click here for story and photos - http://www.goodshepherd-asiapacific.org.au/project/173
The Good Shepherd Sisters first arrived in Bangkok in 1965. Many young women were leaving their villages, seeking employment in the cities. Their vulnerability was easily exploited. The Sisters began offering a variety of services from vocational training for adults to leadership training for young women. Their goal was to encourage women to stay in their villages and initiate programmes to offer other women a dignified way of working and a sustainable wage.
Hands of Hope began as an income-generating project in 2005, for those living with HIV/AIDS in Nongkhai, northeastern Thailand.
In 2000, HIV/AIDS was claiming an increasing number of lives in the villages where the Good Shepherd Outreach team was working. Anti-retroviral medicines were not yet available. Those infected were shunned by family and communities and those still well enough to work, found great difficulty securing employment if employers or fellow workers became aware of their illness. Preventative education for which Thailand became a forerunner in SE Asia, was in its early stages and HIV/AIDS carried a stigma that would take over a decade to diminish.
In 2001, in response to the sense of isolation experienced by those with HIV, the Friendship Centre was built, providing a base for this community for health education, family days, children’s activities and celebrations of important events throughout the year. When ARV medicines became available in 2003 - although on a quota system at first - those visited by the Outreach Team became stronger. Employment however, was difficult to secure.
In 2004, an extension was made to the Friendship Centre, as numbers of families in the programme increased and with a new large room available, Hands of Hope was ‘born’ the following year. Our first six producers picked up scissors – some for the first time – and production began!
People living with/affected by HIV/AIDS who have come to the project through our Village Outreach Programme. More recently, those who have been restored to health in the Garden of Friendship Care Facility and need employment, have found work and friendship in Hands of Hope.
The Hands of Hope community currently has 28 workers who come daily to the project and 5 home workers who come once a week (due to distance). During the week, while their children attend school, they work together to produce a vast range of original designs.
The producers take full responsibility for varying aspects of the project.The elected committee oversees production and management of the daily tasks, including care of the working environment. The specific roles of designing, quality control, stock management, packing, ordering and shopping for raw materials, are undertaken by others within the group, with each person, from the committee down, involved directly with production itself.
Mission Partner, Antonia Symonds, who has lived and worked with the Good Shepherd Sisters in Nongkhai for 17 years, and began Hands of Hope in 2005, is Project Manager. Due to a lack of English proficiency among the producers, Antonia attends to correspondence with marketers and customers and is assisted by a new international volunteer each year. (For the past four years, these volunteers have come from the Good Shepherd Volunteers programme in New York.)
The people have found support and unconditional acceptance at the Good Shepherd ‘Friendship Centre’. It is a peaceful place to work, overlooking a large fishpond in the grounds of the Village Vocational Training Centre. The participants work five days a week, with most being collected from their village homes every morning by pick-up. Others walk or come by bicycle or motorcycle.
After morning meditation and discussion, the producers work for three hours before sharing a meal together at mid-day. They work another three hours, before their homeward journey at 4pm. Wages are paid by the day, with paid time provided to attend hospital appointments. Birthday and Christmas bonuses, as well as monthly payments made into a ‘retirement fund’, are given. Pre-schoolers are able to accompany their mothers to the centre, where they thrive in a stimulating environment. School aged children can attend during holidays and earn money for their education by making their own line of products.
The community aspect of this programme is so important. The participants have friends with whom to share their concerns and their joys. The Outreach Staff monitor their health and accompany them to medical appointments when necessary. Anti-retroviral medicine is indeed necessary for prolonging life, but without dignified employment and daily social support, it cannot give quality and purpose, to those living with HIV/Aids. Hands of Hope does exactly that.
Hands of Hope contributes to all MDGs, especially:
Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.
Promote gender equality and empower women.
Reduce child mortality.
Improve maternal health.