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 postal restrictions, closure of markets and people’s focus on buying the basics, Hands of Hope has re-opened after a three month ‘stay at home’ period. So as not to create unmovable stock however, just two days a week employment is being offered with additional days when orders are received.
Thankfully, most of the producers were eligible for government assistance during the closure period and to those who weren’t or were waiting for payments to be approved, the project provided financial support.
To supplement their income, the producers have been helped to start additional income-generating activities which they turn their attention to on days not working in the project.
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 creativity. Participants are encouraged to design their own products and feel proud of the feedback received and resulting orders.
An elected committee oversees production and management of the daily tasks, including care of the working space. The specific roles of designing, quality control, stock management, packing, ordering and shopping for raw materials, are undertaken by others within the group, with each person, from the committee down, involved directly with production itself.
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. Transportation from the villages is provided and those who come by motorbike 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 2019, twenty-one of the group 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. The participants also have the opportunity to join weekend workshops and seminars on health issues and family celebrations held throughout the year, commemorating Songkran (the Thai New Year Water festival), Mother’s Day and Christmas.
School-aged children are welcome to take part in a holiday programme, producing their own line of products and receiving remuneration which helps with expenses when the new school term begins.
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.