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Out of Africa, Into Belltown

Hands of the World is a retail outlet in Seattle’s Pike Place Market that trades in hand selected, exotic folk art, jewelry and accessories from around the world. Just down the ramp from City Fish, and across from the Market Magic Shop, Hands of the World has been a mainstay at the market since 1982. After a stint as director of a non-profit in Thailand, the owners saw firsthand how the idea of people making crafts by hand for retail purposes was a way out of poverty and independence.

Since 2003 Belltown residents, Paul & Cathy Addis, have been running a non-profit (Life Spring) that focuses on community development and humanitarian needs in East Africa. While programs such as educational scholarships (especially for girls), clean water initiative, famine relief, healthcare projects, and feeding programs have been a longstanding part of Life Spring activities, only recently has the micro-finance and partner support programs been active.

Within the partner support activities, Life Spring has linked up with Child Restoration Outreach (CRO) of Mbale, Uganda to buy bead necklaces, made with discarded magazines, from CRO and sell them in the USA. The children at CRO are found on the streets of Mbale and given a safe place to stay while the counselors and staff attempt to restore their lives at school and with family members.

Being local to Belltown, Life Spring naturally sought businesses in downtown Seattle that would be willing to purchase the necklaces. Hands of the World shared a common vision with Life Spring and became the first outlet for the CRO necklaces in the USA.

The process involves Bishop Alex Wafula Wabwile (of Webuye, Kenya) purchasing the necklaces from CRO at full asking price, shipping them to Belltown where Paul & Cathy bring them to Hands of the World, who buys them at a slight mark up to cover costs in order to sell them to their customers. The Wells Fargo ATM at the corner of Pike & First becomes the gateway to deposit the money into the Life Spring account, then Bishop Alex can use his ATM card to withdraw the funds in Webuye to be used for the various activities there. CRO gets their money up front, Life Spring gets their money returned when it’s deposited in the ATM, and Hands of the World gets their product to sell at a profit.

So if you’re in the market for jewelry or folk art, please consider stopping in at Hands of the World, because it’s a small world and you can make a difference.

Video of the necklaces being made can be seen here.

Bishop Alex with necklaces in Kenya

Bishop Alex with necklaces in Kenya

Cathy Addis (center) watches as CRO staff demonstrate making the necklaces

Cathy Addis (center) watches as CRO staff demonstrate making the necklaces

Children at CRO in Uganda

Children at CRO in Uganda

Hands of the World

Hands of the World in Pike Place Market.

1 Comment on "Out of Africa, Into Belltown"

  1. AMHitchcock | August 26, 2013 at 2:23 pm |

    Nice post, thanks for sharing. I’ll definitely be stopping by Hands of the World next time I’m at the market!

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