Meet the Jua Project

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One year ago, I sat in my economics class and I was introduced to the concept of social entrepreneurship. In a nutshell, it’s the idea that you can take a business and use it for good. In that class I was also introduced to the concept of micro-loans and how women being able to start businesses provided excellent returns on investments as well as broke cycles of poverty in third world countries. I have fallen in love with the concept of using business and turning it into something that brings a bit of good to this world. I believe with all my heart in the ability of capable people with big dreams being able to make a real difference in the world. This is the reason why I’m going into Advertising and PR, because I want to be a megaphone for the dreamers and the doers.

Currently, I have the opportunity to partner with a group that is all about dreaming and doing. I would like to introduce you to Jua Project.

What is Jua Project? Well, they are an organization that works with a group of 9 women in Kenya. They teach these women to make paper beads that they turn into jewelry to sell on Etsy and back in the US. They pay these women for their time and teach them valuable skills. Their goal is to make these women self sufficient and able to provide for themselves and their children. Not only do they work with these women, but they have a Bible study that has about 100 people attending. Jua Project seeks to provide hope in every sense of the word.

One of the cool things about Jua Project is that they also have a US base. This is the business side of things. The dreaming and planning and fundraising side of what they do that makes the rest of the work possible. This base happens to be in Moorhead, MN – right across the river from where I will be attending school at NDSU.

About a month ago, I was contacted by a facebook friend who spent a good portion of last year in Kenya working with the Jua Project. She said they were looking for someone to help with media. Well, I can’t say no to doing something I love for an amazing organization! I’m so excited to get to volunteer with Jua and be a part of this really life changing and personal work in the lives of these beautiful women.

Why is it so important? Because this work, this work of training women and giving them a source of income is vital to both ending poverty and ending human trafficking. There needs to be ways for women to bring in money for their families since they are often the most vulnerable and most abused in places like the Kenyan slums. The ability to help these women provide for their families means that their children are taken care of and have a chance of breaking the cycles of poverty. Jua Project keeps these women safe from exploitation, homelessness, and starvation.

If you would like to poke your hands into the work going on with Jua, there are several ways to give. Firstly, you can buy some of the jewelry made by these women. It’s beautiful and you’ll feel a special connection knowing that it comes from these beautiful women who are working so hard to get by. You can also sponsor one of the women for $10 a month (or more if you want… no one is arguing!) or give a one time donation. For sure, get to know these women and hear their stories. I’m sure that they will inspired you even if you are unable to give financially at the moment.

{Also, if you are a creative, then please consider entering the t-shirt design contest. We are really excited to be involving more and more people into this journey and are attempting to give everyone more chances to get involved.}

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As you may be able to see, this is a group that I am passionate about and excited to support. The work they are doing is beautiful and meaningful and being able to fix technical glitches and promote contests for them is something that gives me great joy. Ultimately, it comes down to the saying that I’ve been told has become a mantra for Jua, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

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The Handwritten Letter

I must have looked like a crazy person, digging inside of every notebook in Target’s isles to see which one had the prettiest paper inside for the best price. The post office worker offered a look of surprise when a teen came in and asked for a dozen stamps. My shopping addiction comes in the card section, fawning over cute note cards and pretty envelopes endlessly. Smashstick pens are a source of constant conversation as I gush about my fabulous $3 pen that has glue at the end. Because really, who doesn’t love glue?
 There’s something about letters that are indescribable. I’ve yet to find words for the feeling you get on a terrible day when you look at the counter to find a letter from a dear friend, it pouring out her very life story and soul onto pieces of notebook paper in a way that’s heartbreakingly beautiful. I’ve yet to find words for the feeling you get when you raise the flag on the side of your mailbox or open up the handle of the blue box. So instead of trying to explain away something spectacular, I push my pen against my paper and keep on writing.
 I’m not alone. As the ebb and flow of my mailbox has increased over the summer, it’s not only there that I’ve found friends. The odd thing is, a community of people who believe in handwritten hearts also like to hang out onthe corners of the internet. I picture them in a coffee shop, grabbing in their bags for their latest stationary to show to the others crowded around the table. They have a map in front, marking with little “x”s where their letters have gone.
 Tonight, I witnessed this community reach out and embrace one of our leaders in a giant bear hug. Hannah, the queen of the love letters, got to share her vision and the vision that we share – that letters are as valuable as gold and have the power to change the world. She did so through this video, one that we hope the whole world rises up and applauds, hopefully joining us in the task ahead.
 What a blessing it is to see twitter being filled with people uplifting and loving each other. I’ve known the sting of seeing personal insults on twitter feeds and how much sweeter is it to see inspiration! I’ve found such peace and solace in the love letter writers, the twenty-something bloggers, the “huggers”, and those that seek to use the digital for some good.
 We band together to make this world brighter; to show the world that we care.
 We open up our hearts onto tweets and onto scraps of paper.
 We stick quote filled post it notes on our college campuses and we write on facebook walls simple words of hope.
 We believe in letters. We believe in love letters to the world in whatever form they come.

The Marriage of Rawness and Classiness

What is honesty? What is authenticity? What is appropriate in our digital age?

 

 I don’t want my grandchildren to be ashamed of my writings, pictures, and tweets when I am in my old age. I don’t want anyone to be embarrassed by me. I want to be classy. I want to have that feminine mystique. I also want to be raw.

 

 The marriage of these two… what a messy event! Rawness is asking for a wedding on top of a roof with ten people while wearing a sun dress. Classiness is requesting a traditional church wedding with family, friends, and a dress from a “real store.” Somehow, they shall come together. The wedding may be a beach occasion with the nearest and dearest. However it ends up, it’ll be compromise.

 

 My life may be a compromise. Maybe my life will look like the marriage of honesty and courtesy. That somehow I can put my hands up in the air and yell, “I don’t have this all together!” while not being a complete hot mess that lets it all hang out to the point of earning the status of “train wreck.” I believe that there is a good ol’ happy medium.

 

 Have I found it yet? Heck no!
 Will I find it? I think so. Eventually.