Something as simple as buying a bracelet from Orcas Arts and Gifts can help a disabled person in Nepal.
Alongside the jewels and fossils of the island store is a shelf of handmade bracelets, and the profits from those bracelets fund the fledgling program Diapers for Dignity which creates and distributes reusable diaper kits to Nepal’s disabled population.
“Nepal became a place for me in 1979 when I was selected for the Dooley Foundation Stewardess volunteer program,” said Orcas islander Kate Jewell, who has a doctorate in naturopathy, director of AirIntermed Nepal and creator of Diapers for Dignity. “I remember frantically scanning the entire map of Africa, looking for this soon-to-be home where I would be living and working for three months. Then, thankfully, someone told me Nepal was in Asia.”
At the time Jewell was working with an immunization team based out of a town called Gorkha. There was no running water, no bathrooms or electricity in the house in which she stayed.
“Working with the people, trekking this beautiful land with incredible vistas of multigreen rice paddies ringed by the snow-capped Himalayas was physically draining and magical,” Jewell said. “I fell in love with Nepal and her people.”
Jewell returned to Nepal throughout the 1980s. It gradually became a distant memory, she said. That was until the earthquake of 2015.
“I knew I had to do something,” Jewell said. “Long story short, I revamped the volunteer program (Air Intermed) with the help of Dooley/Intermed International, Airline Ambassadors International and Mission Himalaya.”
Air Intermed offers participants the opportunity to work at the EcoHome for Children in Nepal. Airline Ambassadors International trains airline personnel how to spot human trafficking. The result of the partnership between the two is an organization that focuses on teaching orphans and Nepali children how to recognize potentially dangerous situations.
Through friends Jewell was introduced to a man named Devendra Amgain who owns a company called Craft to Care which employs 400 women saved from human trafficking.
“He teaches them how to make beautiful, beaded bracelets and (the women) create the intricate designs,” Jewell said. “The bracelets are crafted by stringing many, many beads (and counting the pattern) on a single thread, then taking the tiniest crochet hook imaginable and creating the tube that becomes the bracelet.”
Many of the bracelets available have a single red bead woven into it to signify the impact of human trafficking. The bracelets fit almost everyone and are worn by gently rolling them onto your wrist. Each bracelet allows the artisan to earn a living while being able to remain in her home, care for her family and rebuild her life.
“(Diapers for Dignity) is currently a work in progress and will also help create a caregiving program to help the families,” said Jewell. “It will be headed by one of my Nepali friends I first worked with in 1979.”