Artisan Spotlight: Olivia & Rachel’s Story
Jessica Honegger is the Founder and Co-CEO of Noonday Collection. She loves having the opportunity to travel to visit Noonday’s Artisan Partners across the globe. Recently, she packed up her three kids and took them on a life-changing trip to visit Noonday’s first Partner Business in Uganda.
My kids start school next week and today we are on a last summer blow out day at a water park. It was a monumental summer and I can’t wait to share more about lugging my three kids with me to Africa (more on that soon!). But as we end summer and start school, I can’t get out of my head so many of the school-less children I saw in Uganda just three weeks ago. At one point, an eight-year-old girl begging on the streets knocked on our window asking for money, “Mommy,” asked my eight-year-old Amelie, “How will she know the way home? Where are her parents?”
In so many of the countries where Noonday works with our partner artisans, poverty prevents children from being able to go to school and get an education. When I visit our artisan partners around the world, what they share over and over again is the dream for their children to receive an education. They hope that their children’s education will be a gateway to a safer and healthier life. But because job opportunities are scarce in countries like Uganda, a quality education often remains an unattainable goal.
Because of your purchases, however, artisans in Uganda are experiencing financial stability that enables them to thrive (want to see their zest for life in action? Check out this video from my time at the workshop). Often organizations ask one question as a way to measure poverty alleviation for their clients: “Are their kids in school?” One of the most poignant moments I had while in Uganda was visiting Rachel’s school. Two years ago Rachel’s mom, Olivia, felt she had nowhere left to turn. As an orphan and survivor of exploitation, she had been given few opportunities to pull herself out of poverty. She could not care for Rachel, and in her desperation was about to leave her at an orphanage in hopes of giving her daughter a better life.
Then, she met Jalia and Daniel, the leaders of Noonday’s artisan partner group in Uganda. They offered her a job making paper bead jewelry, and today, her life looks so different. With her earnings, Olivia was not only able to keep her family together, but to send Rachel to school, where she is thriving. When I visited her school, the headmistress introduced me to her own daughter saying, “All of my children attend this school so the parents know that if it is good enough for my children, it is good enough for theirs.” The change in Olivia is palpable. The weariness I saw in her eyes when I met her two years ago has been replaced with pride.
(Olivia used to live on the streets. Here, I’m visiting her in the home she now rents!)
As we send our littles off to school for another year, let’s stand in solidarity with all the women around the globe who have the same dreams for their kids as we have for ours. When you shop at Noonday Collection or host a trunk show in your home, you give opportunity to women like Olivia—and they pass that opportunity along to their children. Come shop our latest paper bead creations, each made by one of our talented Ugandan artisan partners, and celebrate the fact that your purchases are helping families around the world give their children the best gift of all: the chance to learn!
Meet Jessica Honegger
Jessica is Noonday Collection’s Founder and Chief Dreamer. Jessica spends her days inspiring others to live lives of purpose—from empowering our Ambassadors to be powerful storytellers and stylists, to visiting and encouraging our Artisans partners across the globe. After hours, Jessica can be found relaxing with her husband, dancing with her three children, and enjoying a good book.