With several shopping days left until Christmas, I am finding myself overwhelmed with places to give back. Sometimes, it’s gifts that will help others as I make a purchase. For others, it’s places where I can simply make a donation.
In 2005, Antonio Guterras, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, talked about the life of a refugee by saying, “While every refugee’s story is different… they all share a common thread of uncommon courage – the courage not only to survive, but to persevere and rebuild their shattered lives.” The Hill Country Hill Tribers loved those words so much that 2 years later they decided to introduce the Burmese hill tribe refugee community to the rest of Austin. After doing some initial outreach, the refugees began gifting back with homemade and cultural treasures they created. Thus, the Hill Country Hill Tribers was born. They make and sell beautiful handwoven bags, jewelry, and artwork to support themselves as they continue to rebuild their lives. Since that time, they have helped more than 30 refugee women begin to rebuild their lives while also preserving their own culture and sharing it with us.
Here are a few of my favorite items for sale at Hill Country Hill Tribers:
First up, the Kachin Earrings Tatted Paisleys in gold. I love dangly earrings, and for $22 these are a great deal for some lightweight, threaded earrings. A woman named Huang designed these and they’re a great stocking stuffer or would be great as a present for female teachers. (Just a thought! I’m always thinking of my teachers!)
Ruby is the mother of two girls who makes stuffed toys. This Felt Stuffed Owl with a heart on it is the kind of present I would buy and leave out “From Santa” on top of the other gifts for any child over 3 years of age (because of the buttons!). It sells for $18 and would make a great present for a young child in your life.
Finally, as a scarf-lover (really, I wear one daily when the cold snap hits the Midwest and I don’t stop wearing them until it warms up in March), I love this Woven Eternity Scarf in Tribal Stripes by the artist Ra Noe. It’s made from pearl cotton yarn and has three major colors (jade, moss, and plum) running through it. Of all the artists’ work I’m featuring today, it is the most expensive at $36, but still very affordable for Christmas. Of all the scarves I own I have more infinity scarves than anything else because I can loop it around my neck quickly and don’t have to worry about styling it too much.
If I were to go to a mall or major department store to find items like these they would, undoubtedly, be more expensive, and I’d rather have something handmade that also helps an artisan and refugee in need of some income. If you’re interested, here’s a short video on the artisans who make these crafts, Burmese women who have left their homeland in search of a better life.
You can meet the artisans you’re helping at Hill Country Hill Tribers here to read more about them. Make sure to see all the posts in this collection by starting with the first one, iSanctuary by going here. Happy Shopping!