Jewels of Hope was established in November 2004 in Ladybrand, Free State as a support group to 11 children from child-headed households, who made jewellery to support themselves. This model was extended, through partnerships, to several other locations in Southern Africa. By 2008, 250 children formed part of the Jewels of Hope in South Africa, Lesotho, Zimbabwe and Malawi. The jewellery has been sold in South Africa and exported to the USA, UK, Australia and Europe, the export market constituting 80% of sales revenue at it’s peak.
Our vision has been to transform vulnerable children into champion citizens! The focus of Jewels of Hope was to impact a few children deeply for life, rather than to simply touch many children’s lives temporarily.
The practical skill of jewellery-making, the thrill of earning an income and the sense of belonging to a family group is invaluable for a child. However the ultimate goal of belonging to a Jewels of Hope group is to provide core social and spiritual development for the children.
JEWELS OF HOPE TODAY
The new approach of the organisation is Asset-Based Citizen-led Development (ABCD). Where community members are encouraged to generate sustainable solutions for their own development challenges.
WHAT IS ABCD?
ABCD has been around since the beginning of mankind – often out of necessity but also out of a natural inclination to collaborate and utilise what is readily available. This is illustrated through a quote from Lao Tzu a Chinese philosopher,
Lao Tzu circa 650BC:
Go to the people. Live with them, learn from them, love them. Start with what they know, build with what they have. But with the best leaders, when the work is done, the task is accomplished, the people will say, “We have done this ourselves”.
Recently the principles of ABCD have been formulated into an approach to development, pioneered by the ABCD Institute (USA) and the Coady Institute (Canada). ABCD builds on the principles of the participatory approach to development. It is a critique of and alternative to the needs- and problem- based approaches to development, which assess communities in terms of what is lacking and is often conducted by external agencies. The identified problems and needs translate into necessary interventions by external entities. This needs-based approach turns citizens into clients and also paralyses and neglects the assets, resources and energy that exists within people and their communities.
The Asset-Based core principles are:
Community-led development is one of the main strategies to sustainable social development – development processes driven by people who are directly affected by the challenges they seek to address.
Stories of success: the starting point is the shared history of success stories in bringing about change in the community.
Acknowledging the power of collaboration and social capital: the main resource in communities is the strong social ties that exist between community members and the different forms of organisations that are formed.
Appreciation and mobilisation of existing assets in the community: every community, no matter how poor, has access to different physical, social, financial, human and natural assets, which can be mobilised for community action.
Stimulating opportunity seeking mindsets: ABCD is about changing mindsets towards a ‘glass-half-full’ approach to life.
Social entrepreneurship: is about creating social and economic value with available Assets.
Crucial to the ABCD approach is that the power over development processes is held by the communities themselves. Through an ABCD process, communities become empowered from the inside out, which is critical in active citizenship and ensuring government accountability. The role of NGOs within this approach is one of facilitating and connecting to other stakeholders.