Opportunities is owned and operated by Faith Barrett of Lancaster County. Opportunities is just what the name implies, an opportunity for the community to help young girls and woman fight human trafficking and oppression to pursue a dignified life. Opportunities features an arrangement of jewelry, bags, sandals, and accessories all of which are handcrafted by the talented young girls and woman. The proceeds of all sales go straight to the three organizations Opportunities supports, Seeds of Hope Homes, New Hope Girls Academy, and Mercy Jewelry. Faith has made a home for Opportunities here at BC, and we are very gracious to be part of such a great cause.
I started at Building Character in October 2013. My favorite part of being a vendor at BC is telling people about the non-profit organizations with which I partner. These organizations do amazing things. I’m forever inspired by them and what they do for women and girls in third world countries.
Over the last ten years I’ve gradually become aware of the plight of women and girls in third world countries. I heard things like it is common for women from the “Untouchables” caste in India to kill their infant babies in order to keep them from the horrible life that an “Untouchable” woman has to endure. I heard things like many women choose to sell their bodies many times a day just to provide food and shelter for their families. I also heard about mothers selling their own daughters into prostitution and sex slavery. I heard these things and I felt sick.
I also began to hear about organizations that exist to help these women. These organizations rescue women from human trafficking. I became aware companies being started for the sole purpose of giving women jobs. I also became aware of schools starting in extremely impoverished communities to educate young girls in order to help prevent their families from selling them in to slavery. I heard these things and I wanted to do something. But, I was stuck on what that “something” might be. I began buying from companies who sold fair trade products, but I still wanted to more!
During the same time period, I began creating. I inherited my grandmother’s sewing machine and I began making beautiful things. I made beautiful things for my home, my kids, my nieces and nephews, and then I began selling my beautiful creations. There is no higher compliment than for someone else to purchase something that you have worked hard to make. They value your attention to detail, choice of materials, creativity, vision, skill, and time so much that they are willing to pay their own hard earned money to have it for themselves. There is nothing else quite like it!
One day it occurred to me that I should combine my two passions! Opportunities is the result of that thought. At Opportunities I sell my own handmade creations, but best of all I offer the fabulous goods made by women in an effort to create beauty out of their lives and situations. I partner with three non-profit organizations: Seeds of Hope Homes, New Home Girls Academy, and Mercy Jewelry.
Seeds of Hope Homes operates on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. They exist to offer rehabilitation and education to girls who have been rescued from human trafficking. Before Seeds of Hope existed just a few years ago, the girls were often rescued at the hospital after an assault, but then had no where to go after being released. They simply went back onto the streets and often taken again as slaves. The girls make beautiful beaded bracelets and shell earrings that are sold at Opportunities.
New Hope Girls Academy was started to help prevent the girls in an extremely impoverished community in the Dominican Republic from being sold into slavery. The schools motto is: Dreaming for the girls in the barrio (slums) the same dreams we have for our own daughters. Several of the ladies (some of them moms of the girls in the school) in the community sew beautiful bags that are sold at Opportunities. The ladies are paid a fair wage to help support their families and part of the money goes to support the school.
Mercy Jewelry exists to provide employment with dignity to women who formerly have been involved in prostitution in San Pedro Dominican Republic. These women have chosen prostitution not to get rich, but to provide the bare necessities for their families. Many of them have felt that there is no other choice for them to feed their children, but to sell their bodies. Mercy Jewelry provides them employment making beautiful jewelry.
All of the proceeds from each organization’s sales goes directly back to them, after taking out a portion of the rent and commission fees. The highlight of my month is writing out checks to each of these amazing organizations! It feels great to be doing something to help! Every day I feel privileged to be doing a small part to give women and girls without options…Opportunities!