THIS IS A STORY OF TRANSFORMATION.
BULLETS ARE UGLY. COLD BRASS DESIGNED TO DESTROY. BUT THROUGH THE HEAT OF LOVE AND FIRE MYFIGHT IS CHANGING THAT. LITERALLY RESHAPING THE EVIL INTO SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL.
Ethiopian model, Mekdes Lombardi, wearing pieces from MyFight's Bullets to Beauty collection. Early 2014.
You see, Eritrea and Ethiopia were once a single country. The civil war that divided them began in the fall of 1974 and raged for nearly 17 years. When it ended in 1991 1.4 million people were dead. Only seven years passed before violence erupted again, lasting this time for two years, 300,000 people died. Today the highland border regions of Ethiopia and Eritrea are prone to outbreaks of skirmishes and westerners visiting the area have been kidnapped and killed in recent years. With reminders of the conflict still scattered across the Ethiopian highlands the healing process will be long and slow.
Children minding their flocks and crops trek up and down the Simien Mountains of Northern Ethiopia collecting brass bullet shells from the wars, turning them into recyclers for a little money. Finding the casings in the grass and rocks where soldiers fought and died only decades ago. The brass is bought by other farmers who uses traditional methods to create beads from those bullet shells. From their a group of women on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia buy those beads. There, under Mount Entoto, women with HIV are employed to re-purpose the bullets into beautiful works of art. With jobs these women are able to buy medicine, send their children to school, improve their homes, invest in savings, start and grow new businesses, and ultimately transform their community.
Bullets To Beauty represents in the most perfect way the union of consumerism and poverty-abolition. By wearing our Bullets To Beauty collection you are transforming something dark and ugly into something beautiful and life giving.
Instances of HIV/AIDS are obviously not spread evenly. Mount Entoto is home to nearly 5000 individuals suffering from the disease. HIV has a strongly negative stigma in Ethiopia and many women are forced to leave their families and have no hope of finding employment. Desperation to survive leads the women to a life of begging for food and assistance. Often they make their way across the country to the mountain on the edge of the city.
EMPEROR MENELIK THE SECOND MOVED THE CAPITAL OF ETHIOPIA TO THE TOP OF A MOUNTAIN CALLED ENTOTO IN 1889. INSPIRED BY ANCIENT ROCK HEWN CHURCHES, THE EMPEROR BUILT SEVERAL CHURCHES, AND TODAY THE MOUNTAIN REMAINS A RELIGIOUS AND SPIRITUAL CENTER. THOUSANDS PILGRIMAGE TO THE SPRINGS OF THE MOUNTAIN SEEKING THEIR HEALING POWERS.
The religious significance and hope of healing has led thousands of HIV positive women to seek a new life on the slopes of this mountain. A new and better life is not easy to find. But for more than two hundred women our partnership with Entoto Artisans provides just that.
The women making this jewelry are paid twice the national minimum wage. The families are provided HIV care and educational opportunities and the women gain the dignity and self-esteem of skillfully creating beautiful jewelry as artisans in a supportive and nurturing work environment.
At the end of 2014, thanks to strong demand for this line of jewelry, the women in Ethiopia were able to get a 26% raise above their already strong incomes - not just a bonus - but a raise. Additionally, another hundred women are currently being hired on to help accommodate the continued growth in sales.
When you wear the Bullets to Beauty line of jewelry you can know that you're doing more than looking good. You are supporting the hundreds of women in Ethiopia who make the jewelry by providing them a fair wage. You are also supporting the continued work of MyFight. We are always expanding and growing; looking for new and improved opportunities to leverage the sustainability of business against the evils of poverty.