Hands of Hope
Encouraged to live
Empowered to create
The Hands of Hope project, begun in 2005, provides villagers living with or affected by HIV/AIDS, with creative and dignified employment. The producers currently handcraft almost 700 designs of cards, decorations, mobiles, and gift items, using ‘saa’ paper as the main medium– sustainably made in Thailand from the mulberry tree. They receive a just income for their work, health care and transportation assistance,
as well as a community of friendship and support.
Together we embrace LIFE
Although the current climate is not inducive to the sale of handcrafted goods due to some postal restrictions, closure of markets and people’s focus on buying the basics, Hands of Hope is open for business!
So as not to create a surplus of unmovable stock and to ensure funds are sufficient to last the year, the producers attend the centre three days a week. When orders are received, days are spent in the workrooms as in the past. However, if orders are in short supply, rather than stockpile products, the producers have engaged in communal agricultural activities.
To supplement their income, on the days not spent in the project, the producers have been helped to start additional income-generating activities at home.
The tranquil, natural environment of the Friendship Centre overlooking a large fishpond, with neighbouring bamboo forest and rice fields, provides a calming place to work.
There is dignity to be found in creative pursuits and Hands of Hope fosters such creativity.
For sixteen years, participants have been encouraged to design their own products and feel proud of the feedback received and resulting orders. The range is extensive.
The specific roles of designing, quality control, stock management, packing, ordering and shopping for raw materials, are undertaken by the members, with each person, involved directly with production itself. With a reduced number of producers since Covid first appeared, production has become very much more of a team effort.
A seven-hour working day is the norm with production beginning after morning meditation. A meal is shared at noon and the producers have time to relax.
Wages are paid by the day, with paid time given to attend hospital appointments.
In former years, transportation was provided from the villages by the staff of the Outreach Programme but with a reduced number, all come on motorcycles and receive a weekly petrol allowance on top of their wage.
An end of month bonus is paid into a ‘retirement’ fund for daily workers and a generous end of year bonus is received by all participants. A monetary birthday gift is also given.
A commission for every product sold, is paid to the designers at year’s end. In 2020, 12 current members and 15 past members, received such bonuses.
The community aspect of this programme is so important. The participants have friends with whom to share their concerns and their joys. this has taken on greater significance with the stresses of the past 18 months. The participants also have the opportunity to join with the Garden of Friendship community for celebrations and special events held throughout the year. (The large Outreach family celebrations have had to be cancelled in 2020 and 2021.)
The Good Shepherd Outreach Staff monitor the health of our producers and accompany them to medical appointments when necessary. Anti-retroviral medicine is indeed necessary for prolonging life, but without dignified employment and daily social support, it cannot give quality and purpose to those living with HIV/Aids. Hands of Hope does exactly that.
Social welfare funds for producers, when ill health makes working impossible
New international outlets for our products
With increasing frequency, Hands of Hope have collaborated with customers to supply custom made items for conferences, weddings, and other special events. Should you wish to place a custom order with us, simply contact us to discuss your needs, the price, and estimated delivery time.