“I don’t want to help orphans,” said no person ever. But if just thinking of Little ol’ Orphan Annie doesn’t pull at those heartstrings enough to really make you go out and do something, let’s look at some stats. According to UNICEF (the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund) there are 153 million orphans worldwide. Just to put that into perspective, that’s enough to form a country with a population larger than our new BFF country, Russia.
This is an issue that crosses borders, racial divides and economic classes, and is beyond any child’s control. What’s more, the implications of being an orphan are both incredibly dispiriting and far reaching. Many children living as orphans face struggles that range from medical needs to developmental delays and they often face exploitation, as orphans make up a large portion of the children sold into sex slavery or forced into combat. And because so often they do not receive adequate personal interaction or a loving environment, many kids also don’t have the resources or gain the skills (personal or professional) to actually make it out in the world as adults. This often leads to a life of crime, prostitution or even suicide.
Okay, holy depressing. Now you’re ready to get out there and do something! But, let’s say that “theoretically” you maybe can’t even dress yourself in the morning, so adopting one of those cute little kiddos is not really an option. That’s where U.K. couple, Chris and Amy’s company Hope In Planks comes in.
Now, I don’t just like Hope In Plank’s wooden home goods because they all have all a branded stamp that says “HIP” on them (although that is a pretty rad added bonus, since all my friends will now know just exactly how hip I am when I pull out the beautifully crafted goodies). No, I like their products because they were born out of a desire to sustainably achieve positive change — currently 10% of every H.I.P. sale is donated to Story International, a not-for-profit working to transform the lives of orphans in the mountains of Guatemala.
Amy volunteered with Story International as a school teacher in 2013 and loved the work that they were doing, so she sought out a way to be able to support them — voilà, H.I.P. was born. The money coming from H.I.P. currently goes to support orphans in La Fundación Salvación in Huehuetenango, Guatemala. And knowing that very often the transition from communal living to independent living can be a struggle for orphans, part of the donations are used to help the orphans when they turn 18 and leave the orphanage. They do this by supporting the El Puente program which is a 12-month program designed to ease the transition from group home living to independence and adulthood by teaching them how to build a resume, drive a car, cook for themselves, manage a budget, etc.
H.I.P. would also like to eventually be able to get involved further with providing funding and resources to equip orphans with necessary skills for life, as well as for the workplace. Their ultimate goal is to empower those leaving orphanages to rise above the cycle of poverty and to start their own businesses by providing training, micro-finance and business advice.
On the other side of the business, H.I.P. uses FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified wood — which is the best indicator that the wood was harvested sustainably. And all of their products are hand sanded, finished and treated by Chris and Amy themselves, so no worries about labor issues. They currently carry their signature oak candle holders with the option of one or three tealights and their floating key shelf, and are constantly looking to improve the variety of their product offering (code for: keep your eyes peeled for new, “one-off” and limited edition products).
So just to recap, a purchase from H.I.P. would mean you get a handsomely hand-crafted piece for your home with a stamp that let’s your friends know your probably cooler than them AND you’re supporting orphans at the same time. Win-win, if you ask me.
Looking for more ways to get involved?
- The Hope Effect is a company that allows you to start your own campaign, share it with friends, with 100% of the dollars you raise going to provide family-style homes for orphaned children around the world.
- Seeds of Hope is a coffee company that provides great coffee to you, but also food, medical care and education to orphaned children and widows around the world (with their largest effort focused in Sub-Saharan Africa). Pssst…you can also buy in bulk, because we all know you can never have enough coffee.
- Bridgewater Candle Company is working to fight hunger of orphaned children around the world. Through their partnership with Rice Bowls, Bridgewater started their Light a Candle + Feed a Child program, in which a portion of each jar candle sale goes to feed a child for a day.
- Donate to World Wide Orphans — a New Jersey based INGO that is transforming the lives of children and communities by providing education, medical care and psycho-social support in their local communities so they can become confident, competent, thriving adults who will change the world around them. Or The Global Orphan Project — which works provide shelter and care for the basic needs and positive development of orphaned and impoverished children and their communities in some of the poorest areas of the world.