What started as a traveling surfer's promise to a child in an orphanage in Bali Indonesia became an international movement.
Please don't forget about us!
It was the plea of an older child as the surfer was leaving for the airport after an extended stay.
"Don't worry; I won't," came the answer, steady and sure.
And he didn't. And he hasn't.
A few weeks ago, I bought Mary Beth a pair of earrings from an organization that looked intriguing. The earrings were unique and very pretty. The organization behind them Exceptional. Extraordinary. Over time, I've gotten to know a little about the people behind the business.
Christy Halsell shared how it all got started:
"When I went to Bali on my honeymoon in 2003, I had no idea it would gradually become such a pull in our lives.
"Okay, that’s a lie. I had a sneaking suspicion. Probably because my husband, Charlie, is a surfer and pulling him away from the waves in Bali is like pulling a child away from Disneyland. Or pulling me away from chocolate, to give a very realistic analogy.
"Though I knew Bali was close to Charlie’s heart, I was surprised to find his vision for this small island so intense."
Christy had married a man who had made a promise on his first visit to Bali. And it was a promise he meant to keep. If you ask Charlie, it is Christy who has made it possible for him to keep the promise in ways neither of them could have imagined when they began their life together.
“She is my constant,” Charlie shares, “I’ve always been a dreamer with only half-follow ups at best. Christy doesn’t forget the goals we set together. On her first trip to Bali – our honeymoon – I told her about my idea of starting a business to provide for the basic needs of the children, and she said ‘Let’s go for it!’ That’s when things started taking off.”
Christy picks up the story, "In fact, we ended up back in Bali a few short years later. We spent nine months learning how to live and do business in this other culture with our two small boys. As we worked, we hoped to begin fulfilling our goals of helping others in need."
" During that nine months, we went weekly to an orphanage Charlie had visited years before on missions trips. Our vision for this orphanage began to take shape and today, through a few different importing/exporting business ventures, and with the involvement of Charlie’s family, we are blessed to be running a company named Give Jewelry."
Facebook has been instrumental in the growth of the movement--that was the tool by which the word spread that these folks were doing some extraordinary things. Using the crafts of local Balinese artisans (whose lives have been changed, too) they were able to sell jewelry internationally and to deliver on an extraordinary promise: 1 piece of jewelry will feed 1child for 1 week. Lots of people "liked" that idea on Facebook. So many people, in fact, that it drew the attention of VH1's Do Something Award. Give Jewelry was a nominee and Charlie and Christy found themselves in some interesting company. Charlie recounts,
“When we found out that it would be a Red Carpet kind of event, in Hollywood, Christy and I both borrowed fancy clothes from my brothers and sisters.” (Charlie comes from a family of nine children.) It was so much fun to be the only ‘non-celebrities’ there.Randy Jackson from ‘American Idol’ was just down the row from us and ‘Snoop Dog’ was just across from us all night.”
Other winners of the Do Something Award were Leonardo DiCaprio, “Glee” the Tv Show, Jonas Brothers, Hannah Teter, Kathy Griffin, Tyra Banks, Alyssa Milano, the city of Austin Texas and the film “I am because we are” – a documentary about the orphaned children suffering in Malawi.
Charlie continues, “I always knew that I could never meet the needs of even one orphanage.Now with their Facebook family and the Do Something Awards to help get word out, it’s great to see how many children’s lives are changed because a lot of people are each doing a little.”
"I kept the trophy for the Do Something Award in my office for a few months, but then took it with me on my next visit to the children in Bali.Every time I looked at that thing, I knew that people had voted with the children in mind.That award was theirs and I knew it.I surprised them with it at a party they put on for me. I cried hard as I brought the trophy out of the fancy black box that it had been delivered in. 'This is for you guys' I forced out through slobber and tears. Lots of people from around the world know about you now - and you have helped them to feel needed again. And then I added lots of other mumbled stuff that I can't really remember now."
The children of the Bali Orphanage come from all over Indonesia. Many of the country’s islands are poor, which means families are often split up because of death, poverty or disease. Because Bali is one of Indonesia’s more stable islands economically, orphaned children often find themselves here.
Give Jewelry has partnered with the oldest and most established orphanage on the island. It’s run exclusively by volunteer nuns,and it operates with extremely modest means.
Under Indonesian law, only citizens of the country can adopt children from its orphanages. This makes placement challenging for these kids – as a nation that struggles economically, few Indonesians are in the position to take on an extra mouth to feed – and many of these children live their entire lives within the orphanage before leaving to get married or find work.
At any given time, between 45 and 80 children call the orphange home. And there is little hope for any other. The nuns, the children, and the people behind Give Jewelry are family in the truest sense of the word.
We think a lot about crafting home here on this blog. A purchase of Give Jewelry is a truly beautiful way to help craft a home a world away.