It all started in 2010, when our founder, Rebecca, lived in Costa Rica for six months and began to learn about the discrimination and hardships a native people group called the Guaymi face on a daily basis. Moved by their story, she later visited the Coppey Abajo reservation for the first time and began dreaming of what her role in this community would be. There, she met women who, in the face of oppression and extreme poverty, still had hopes and dreams for brighter tomorrow. While these women had a passion for learning and creating, Rebecca realized they were in need of a market.
In the fall of 2012, Rebecca officially launched Hands Producing Hope, selling jewelry from the reservation through trunk shows, craft fairs and church events. Several volunteers joined her in developing a board of members, creating new product designs and hosting events. We worked alongside village leaders in the reservation to spread the word about the opportunity to work with us. Twelve women showed up to learn how to make one of our first products - recycled cards and envelopes - and became HPH's first group of artisans in Summer 2013.
We knew that our artisans needed more than just a steady income. They needed to be empowered, to fully know that they are valued and that their dreams matter. We've since created a sustainable program that, not only provides dignified work, but prioritizes education and physical, mental and emotional wellness. Our educational initiatives financially support artisans who wish to attend school, whether for the first time or to return and obtain their diploma. Workshops are hosted several times a year to teach valuable life skills that they can benefit from long after they leave our program. We've formed relationships with the surrounding communities that have come alongside our mission in hopes of reconciliation.
In 2016, we expanded our program to Rwanda, partnering with women on Nkombo Island who weave exquisite home goods. By giving our artisans access to a market, we are able to provide consistent income and our artisans are now to make their dreams a reality. Since then we have formed an adult literacy school on the islands, helped start a maternal health education program, and we have two new cooperatives in training on neighboring islands.
In 2017, we began working with local refugee women in Baton Rouge. Our desire is to provide an avenue out of isolation and into community and to give opportunity. We teach new artisan skills, build relationship, and provide supplemental income.
Since our journey began in 2010, we've seen the lasting positive impact that consumers can make on the livelihoods of entire communities. It is our heart that we may stir up a movement of thoughtful spenders who value the face behind the product and spread the story of hope and empowerment.