I Didn't Choose Noonday Collection, Noonday Chose Me

Noonday Collection's #StyleForJustice Line Reveal from Noonday Collection on Vimeo.

This summer I had the opportunity to hear the President and CEO of Outreach International, Kevin Prine speak about outreach.  I had very strong opinions and thoughts on mission and outreach when I sat down.  I even questioned him at length on a few of his and my own 'key' ideals.  When I left that day I could feel my 'thoughts', 'ideals' and 'opinions' slowly changing or at the least being challenged.

See, I'm not one to easily sway my ideals and opinions.  However, I am and hope to always be open to listening and changing those ideals.  If I didn't, I'd never grow :)  So, about 2 weeks after meeting and talking with Kevin I realized I had changed.  And low and behold, that is when Noonday chose me!  I had been following Jen Hatmakers blog about her mission trip to Rwanda.  I was reading about the artisans there that made jewelry.  They weren't just making jewelry, they were making art!  And how this 'Noonday Collection' was changing their lives.

This is the point where before talking to Kevin, I would have thought, "Oh sure, of course they're asking these women to make jewelry.  Talk about cheap labor!  Scoff!  Why don't they just send food, shelter and money to these women?"  But see, my view had changed!

Kevin explained that day, that years ago, Outreach International would go into countries with professionals and dig wells for the communities there.  They did this for many years.  Over time the wells begin to break down and the teams of professionals would go back in and repair the wells.  They tried to train people in communities there to repair them, but were never able to make them competent at maintain the wells.  Outreach realized that since the people weren't an active part of building the wells that they would never be fully competent at maintaining them.

Many years passed and Outreach International realized that the communities in poverty would first need to realize and believe that their lives could be changed for the better.  That poverty was not their only option.  Generation after generation passed down a hopeless mindset that their own poverty was simply a fact of life.  Neighbors no longer knew each other's names, no longer worked together, no longer helped each other and no longer 'connected'.  Outreach International learned that not only would people from the communities need to be involved in the work, they would need to be instrumental in the creation of their own solution.

Today, when Outreach enters a new community, they simply live in the community for up to TWO YEARS!  The community goes through phases of 'wonder if he is selling something', 'wonder if he wants something', 'wonder if he's a missionary', 'wonder if he's a sex trafficker' etc......
Finally, after the community has accepted this person into their fold, they can begin to 'troubleshoot' and 'problem solve'.  The Outreach representative doesn't give solutions, he simply facilitates while the community decides ways to bring themselves out of poverty.

This new way of working not only lifts individuals out of poverty, it lifts entire communities out of poverty.  It also teaches them ways to communicate with one another.  It lessens family violence and community crime.  It enriches marriages and family relationships.  To say this method is a win, win is an understatement!  Now a few of those communities are beginning to reach out to their neighboring communities to help them begin to problem solve as well!

One statement that I will never forget Kevin saying was about a woman who lived in Haiti.  After a hurricane had once again destroyed Haiti, Outreach was one of the first organizations to arrive on the ground.  As they approached a village, a woman ran to greet them.  The first thing she said to them was, "Praise God!  I'm so thankful you are here!  I have been praying for a hurricane to come!"  They had become so dependent upon aid, that they had forgotten how to help themselves.  They simply 'lived' in their poverty and had no means or knowledge of how to provide a sustainable income for themselves.

The more I learned about Noonday Collection, the more convinced I was that this was a movement I wanted to join!  Not only do they partner with artisans in vulnerable communities.  They provide interest free loans to artisan groups so they are able to purchase supplies.  They also buy a large amount of product up front so that the artisans are left hanging if the product doesn't sell well.  On top of all that, Noonday gives money to homestudy ready families who are raising funds for adoption.  Any type of adoption:  international adoption, domestic adoption etc.  Hostesses can host a trunk show for a family raising funds for adoption and Noonday gives 10% of the total sales to the family!

I still give money to church missions, Outreach International etc. but HEY, I'M GOING TO BUY JEWELRY ANYWAY, RIGHT??  So, like I said, it's a win win!

Horn Necklace from Noonday Collection on Vimeo.

No comments: