Hands of Hope Needlework is working with Girl-Child Network
Worldwide on a project that we feel will change lives.
The Girl-Child Network Worldwide works with girls in several African countries. These girls have been victims of rape, abuse and even human trafficking. The GCNW builds empowerment villages as centers that provide medical, legal and educational services as well as access to police protection. They help to transform girl victims into survivors and leaders. The program with Hands of Hope will be using needlework as part of this process.
In this program, Hands of Hope Needlework will be supplying interested girls in the Zimbabwe with guides that will teach basic embroidery stitches. A kit will have the fabric, thread, hoop, needles and scissors and instructions for them to practice these stitches. Then, they will learn some design basics and with guidance, create a design of their own, representing their dreams, something special or beautiful to them. Once they have completed that project, their information and design will be sent back to Hands of Hope Needlework where we will create kits to sell. All proceeds of a girl's kit will go back to her to help her realize her dream, be it through education or establishing her own business.
The first set of kits has arrived safely in Zimbabwe.
Elizabeth Harac, Founder and President
Elizabeth has a BA in Theology from Pensacola Christian College and an Master of Library and Information
Science from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She has been an American Sign Langauge interpreter,
taught English and Home Economics, and worked in different capacities in several libraries. She served at
the Iquitos School for the Deaf in Peru. She has dedicated her life to the helping of others so the founding
of a non-profit organization dedicated to giving hope to the hopeless is a natural next step for her.
About Hands of Hope Needlework in Elizabeth's own words:
It may seem like a strange idea to spend time creating something from quirky geek toys to beautiful embroidered pendants, experience the thrill of a sale and not keep the money.
I blame this on the news.
About a year ago, a report on a now forgotten news station struck me like a ton of bricks. It was about girls in Africa. Girls that had been raped by soldiers, abused, sold as slaves and worse, if there could be such a thing. The statistics were staggering and painful. But worse was the look of defeat and shame in the eyes of the girls on film. What could I do? Unable to work due to a disability... my trained skills of no use in the situation, I ached to make a difference.
I am not sure how that ache sprouted the idea, but there it was. I could make things and sell them. That money could go to a group I had found called the Girl Child Network Worldwide. Betty Makoni, founder of this group, has created villages in Zimbabwe that are safe places for girls. I could send what little I could make and perhaps change the life of one girl, maybe two. It is a drop in the bucket, but it is a drop.
The idea continued to grow. If I had found change from handwork, could these girls? What if they were taught embroidery stitches, given the tools to learn and then.... the tools and opportunity to create? Would I be able to help more? As Martin Luther Kings said, I had a dream. Interested girls in this safe village could learn the basic embroidery stitches with a common beginner kit. Once they knew the stitches, give them paper and colored pencils to draw something that was special to them, something dear to their heart, something beautiful, something of their dream beyond the past. Let them plan the colors, choose the stitches to create. With their picture and project information, I could create packaged kits here in the United States and acting as an intermediary, share their story and project. If a packaged kit sold, all of the profit would go back to that girl to help her achieve her dream - education, a home of her own, a business.
Could all of that happen from a needle and thread? Yes.
Could a single starting stitch, a thread wrapped around a hook, or a paper card change a life? Why couldn't they?
And if embroidery can be given to them as a gift, why not more? The idea grows from my own experience teaching sewing to some deaf women in Peru. Feeling the rhythmic hum of a treadle sewing machine in a room light only by sunlight. A sewing machine can open the door to a skilled trade, a business, self-sufficiency. If in Peru, why not also Africa?
I can feel this dream wanting to expand, wanting to bring in others, to join forces to give the opportunity of hope through fabric, floss, needles, hoops and scissors. To have girls halfway across the globe finger the skeins of floss and feel the possibilities of what they can make and what they can become.
This is my dream....This is my challenge.
Pamela Willars, Vice-President and Chief Enabling Officer
Elizabeth asked her long time friend Pamela to join her in this endeavor. Pamela said yes without hesitation. Pamela has a BS in Business/Information Technology from the Univeristy of Phoenix. She is a working mom and small business owner. She and her husband have seven children from 4 to 31 and three granchildren.