Monday, December 21, 2009

Emerge Global Jewelry

In spirit of handmade Christmas present giving and encouraging support of individual artists and etsy sellers, I'd love to introduce you to Emerge Global. Emerge Global is an organization founded by a high school classmate of mine, Alia, to help girls who have become pregnant due to rape or incest heal and generate savings through jewelry-making.

images provided by Emerge Global

Here's a little Q&A with the founder and a little eye candy as well...

When did you start the Emerge Global organization?

In the summer of 2005, on a tsunami relief trip to Sri Lanka, I witnessed a reality I was not equipped to handle... a reality where girls, some as young as ten years old, were cast out of their own families, denied the right to formal education, and locked away for their own protection due to pregnancy resulting from rape or incest. That summer, I founded the Emerge Bead Program as a way to provide the tools these girls needed to become confident, respected, self-reliant members of society.

In 2008, what began as a simple beading workshop for 18 persevering girls lead me to found Emerge Global, a registered U.S. non-profit organization with the goal of empowering young women around the world who have survived abuse to rediscover and celebrate their personal beauty, develop their self-sufficiency, and become leaders within the own communities. 

What kinds of help are available to the girls in the program?
The Emerge Bead Program enables Sri Lankan girls, aged 10-18, who've survived abuse and sexual violence to become jewelry designers through a curriculum that emphasizes self-esteem, leadership, and business knowledge, while generating savings for their futures. Design and entrepreneurship are combined to develop confidence, teach life skills, and strengthen their community’s capacity to effect change. Emerge helps girls develop tools that will allow them to proactively redefine their own lives and the lives of others through rehabilitation, education, economic empowerment, and community development.

How much are the products and where are they available?
The girls creations range from $16-$22 and can be found on our online jewelry boutique at:, with the support of former program participants, we have recently begun to do some commissioned work, especially for weddings. You can see some of the pieces one participant designed for a wedding on our blog:

How many girls are a part of the Emerge Bead Program?
We've had more than 125 girls take part in the Emerge Bead Program so far. In 2008, some girls made as much as $660 for their individual savings accounts. This year, the Program benefited 98 girls and some participants generated as much as $1,800 in personal savings, which will support them, and in some cases their children, as they start their adult life outside of the center in which they currently live.

How many pieces of jewelry have been sold so far?
To date, we've sold nearly 3500 pieces of jewelry, totaling approximately $70,000. Nearly half of this amount came from sales in this year alone. 

How much of the proceeds from the jewelry goes to the girls?
The jewelry, each piece unique, is sold in the United States, Sri Lanka and online with 50% of the selling price going back to the girls' individual savings accounts so that when they turn 18 the girls have money to take care of themselves and, in some cases, their children. The remaining 50% covers the cost of materials and product distribution, so that Emerge Global can support the healing of more survivors. 

What's would you like to accomplish next for the program?
So far, our Program has had incredible results. After we finish one more version of our program curriculum, I'd really like to scale our program to work with more girls across Sri Lanka. One day, I'd like us to work with girls around the world. There's definitely the need and I believe we have a powerful solution.

What advice do you have for someone hoping to start their own non-profit organization?
It's very important to tackle an issue that you do not only care about but that you want nothing more than to  improve. Stay in touch with that motivating factor. Starting a non-profit is not an easy job, especially if you are young. Keep the individuals you work with and the improvements you are fighting for in mind in every decision and every challenge. You'd be amazed how easy it is to get swept up in daily demands and issues that seem irrelevant. Knowing yourself well and knowing, believing and breathing that motivating factor will help to ground you and inspire you, I promise. The precious moments I have spent with girls of Emerge have helped me not only get through challenges in building an organization, but my own personal challenges as well.

Besides buying jewelry, what are some other ways interested parties can support Emerge Global?
There are lots of ways to get involved with Emerge. As a non-profit we rely on donations to support these girls and our programs every day. You can donate online here. Donations, even as small as $5, make a tremendous difference. We also accept volunteers (to learn more or apply to be a volunteer, please email: Finally, if you are a budding Fashionista who is eager to spread the word, you can become an Emerge Agent and sell Emerge jewelry by hosting a jewelry party (email our U.S. Director, Ellen, at

Thank you, Alia!  I'm really excited about this amazing organization and can't wait to buy my first piece of Emerge jewelry!

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