Maybe you’ve caught the buzz about giving gifts with a purpose. As Mother’s Day barrels down on us, I’ve been on the lookout for gifts that make a difference. Maybe you’ve noticed that WalMart has carried a line of cards and products from Full Circle Exchange. (Mom, close your eyes!) Several women in my life are getting their cards because I love the idea of giving a high quality card with a great message to someone I love that also helps women. The cards I bought were made by women in Peru and Idaho. How cool is that!
We’ve also use the World Vision gift catalog to give meaningful gifts in honor of loved ones that also help a family in a third world country gain independence. Samaritan’s Purse and many other nonprofits do similar things. For example, in honor of my grandparents who were lifelong farmers, we gave a gift that provided a family in a third world country the beginnings to a farm.
When I attended the Public Libraries Conference in March I stumbled upon another group that is using coops to help women in countries where they typically cannot make a living create an income for their families. I was captivated from the moment I met Wendy Bird, the founder of Pearls with Purpose. I LOVE the idea of helping women become self-sustaining and that’s exactly what Pearls with Purpose does. Wendy was kind enough to chat with me, and I wanted to share her with you! Here’s the first part of the interview. Be sure to come back for the second when I’m going to give away one of her beautiful items. I loved them so much, I just had to share! (And be sure to read to the end where I’m delighted to share a special 20% discount code with you!)
Wendy, thank you so much for joining us and sharing your dream with us. How did you catch the vision for Pearls with Purpose? Was this part of a larger dream, or did it arrive unexpectedly?
You can definitely say that this arrived unexpectedly.
Back in 2002, I was a stay at home mom of five dabbling in jewelry-making. I was a certified gemologist and looking for loose pearls to be shipped to the states that I could make jewelry from. I received several emails from factories in China, Japan, Indonesia and etc. One stood out. It was a personal email from a woman named Amara, in the Philippines. One sentence from her email struck me right in the heart, “If you import finished pieces from me, not just loose pearls, you can change womens lives in my country”.
If you pause to capture the meaning of that “change womens lives”, then you can see why this project moved forward in such unexpected ways. I am a firm believer in God and in the knowledge that he loves all His children. Especially those in unfortunate circumstances. Being able to be part of something that helped others was incredibly motivating to me. Needless to say, I moved forward with her and we began teaching women from squatters areas how to make jewelry that American women would be proud to wear.
To be perfectly honest, there was not a “Larger dream” at this time. My limited vision was simply “hey, find some loose pearls and make jewelry”. (good thing Someone else is in charge!!) I give complete credit to God that everything moved forward in the way it did.
Owning/running a small business is seldom easy, the path is paved with obstacles, frustrations, setbacks and even failure. During every trial I experienced over the past twelve years, just when I felt I couldn’t give another inch (or dollar), a small miracle would unfold in a very wondrous way. And we would move forward. Expanding our reach, assisting those with true needs and pure desires. I could share thousands of stories where all the planets aligned in just the right way for the right things to take place! It is how we expanded to Thailand, then India and eventually Cambodia. Heavenly Father is very aware of ALL of His children and their happiness is of utmost importance to Him. I feel strongly that I am merely a tool in His hands helping to alleviate others’ burdens in a small way.
Amara proceeded to send me emails telling the stories of the first four women we wanted to help. These stories and thousands of others are what has made PWP what it is today. As needs arose, individuals stepped up to fill those needs in miraculous ways. I have said many times and will not stop saying it, this organization exists not because of me, but because of the thousands of individuals who chose in a single moment to be part of it, whether for a lengthy amount of time or for a brief moment, they followed their instinct to jump in and that is what has made all the difference.
As I mentioned above, Pearls with Purpose has graciously agreed to give you, my readers, a special discount. I don’t know about you, but I love shopping with a discount. So here’s the special code: CARA. You plug that in at check-out and will receive 20% off your order. So please go over and take a look at their website. You’ll learn even more about the women this organization helps. And you might find some jewelry you like or for gifts for the teachers, mothers, and friends in your life.