Women are the drivers of economic growth.

You might doubt this or shake your head, given what all of the history books say about economic growth. But shake no longer, my friend – because we now know this to be true.

Give a woman money to buy a cow – 9 times out of 10 she buys the cow, finds a way to turn it’s milk into a higher-valued item, saves the money, pays off the loan, and buys another cow so she can send her kiddo to school.

Because women are (by in large) the caretakers of the family, a good deal of any money that is given to them goes to care for and prop up the next generation. Not only that, but women are EXCELLENT credit risks – give a woman a loan, and 98% of the time that loan will be repaid. We be rad, ladies.

And this brings us to Japan.

Between 2012 and 2014 we lived in Japan. My children attended local Japanese schools, we dove into the culture, we ate all of the sushi. It was wonderful, it was complicated, and it was some of the best years of my life.

It was also a time of major disaster relief in the face of the Fukushima nuclear meltdown.

Less than a year before we arrived, a giant earthquake hit just offshore of northern Japan. It created a massive tsunami, which raced to hit the shore – and destroy everything in its patch. It took out house, it took out HOSPITALS – and, possibly the worst of all, it took out a nuclear power plant.

This area of Japan is still in disarray. You know how we talked about the FEMA trailers living outside of New Orleans forever? Imagine that – but now more than seven years later. This is not the fault of the government – this is the fault of the incredibly rich, incredibly beautiful, and incredibly complex cultural traditions of Japan.

You see, some of those families have been living on that same plot of land for THOUSANDS of years. Like, before Jesus thousands. And they’ve had great feuds with people from other regions (think samurais – I am not kidding). And for the government to look at them and say “I’m sorry, this land is now polluted beyond repair, you must leave and move into the same village that all of your ancestors fought against for millennia” ??? It honestly…doesn’t work.

Enter the Nozomi Project.

These people, this area, is now having a terrible time overcoming the devastation. Economically, they don’t know how to recover when their agricultural lifestyle is no longer an option. So a few women – yep, women – have banded together to create a new possibility. And now you can band with them. Led by the fearless Sue Plumb Takamoto, this group of women realized there was value in their brokenness. Looking around, they saw their shattered life – and saw their beautiful Japanese pottery shattered as well. An idea was born, and they realized they could create unique, beautiful, and amazing jewelry from these pieces.

And you are invited to join them.

Help economic growth with an at-home service project be the change with Aina Giving

Designed by our amazingly talented tribe member Holly, this week you can create a beautiful handmade jewelry carrier – to store that jewelry. Feeling motivated? You can now even send some of your own beautiful broken pottery to Nozomi, and they will make international pieces of hope, love, and economic growth for the region. Keep reading to find out why, exactly, these women named it the Nozomi Project – for nozomi, of course, is the word for “hope” in Japanese.

Supplies Needed:

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Help economic growth with an at-home service project be the change with Aina Giving

Note: Some of these links may include affiliate links :)[/one_half]

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Instructions:

Step 1: Cut the Fabric

Using the fabric that you want as your outer fabric, and which as your liner. For your outer fabric, cut out 2 large circles with a diameter of 11″ (this includes seam allowances). For the liner fabric, cut out 2 smaller circles with a diameter of 7-1/2″ (each).

Help economic development with an at-home service project for nuclear disaster

Step 2:

Fold the fabric of the large outside circle in half. Finger press. This is for finding the center line and for placing the buttonholes.

Help economic development with an at-home service project after nuclear disaster in Fukushima

Open up your circle and turn wrong side up. Cut out 2 small squares [ approx 2″x2″] of interfacing. Measure 1/2″ inwards from outside edge and fuse the interfacing in place with your iron.

Step 3:

At the fold line, measure 2″ inwards from the outside edge. Mark this point with your disappearing marking pen – this will be the outside line of your casing. Now, measure 5/8″ inwards from this line and mark again – this will be the inside line of your casing. Make a buttonhole in between these two marks – one buttonhole on each side of the circle (at the fold line).

Help economic development with an at-home service project after the tsunami

Step 4:

For both your big and your small circles, place right sides together and pin. Stitch these circles together with a 3/8″ seam allowance, backstitching at each end. Be sure to leave a small 1″ – 2″ opening so we can turn them right side out! Press with an iron.  Notch seam allowances 1″ apart for the entire outside edge.

Step 5:

Turn circles right side out. Press to lay flat. Now edge stitch 1/8″ from outside edge on each of your circles – this will close that hole.

Step 6:

Now we’re going to sew the casing. Remember those casing marks that you created earlier? We’re going to follow those measurements and make 2 circular stitching lines. Remember that the buttonholes will be in the middle of the dashed lines, like this:

Help economic development with an at-home service project after the tsunami in Japan

Step 7:

Cut out 3 pieces of your batting, each in the size of a circle. Your first piece should have about 4′ diameter, the next 3.5″ and the last 3″. Place these batting pieces on top of each other in the centre of your large circle (outside fabric facing down, if your inner and outer fabric is different).Help economic development with an at-home service project with the Nozomi Project

Step 8:

Lay your smaller circle on top of the batting pieces. Pin in place. Feel for the edge of the batting and use your marking pen to create a circular stitching line. Stitch around the edges of that circular line to attach the smaller circle to the bigger circle.

Help economic development with an at-home service project with the Nozomi Project in Japan

Step 9:

Now add your “pockets (perfect for smaller jewels!). Stitch from the inner circle to the middle circle with 6 straight lines – like spokes on a tire. Here is what it will look like from the outside of the outer fabric:

Help economic development with an at-home service project with the Nozomi Project in Fukushima

And the inside of your inner fabric (make sure to backstitch at beginning and end):

Help economic development with an at-home service project with the Nozomi Project after nuclear disaster

Step 10:

Pull your ribbon through one buttonhole, all the way around, and exit out the same buttonhole. Repeat for the other side. Knot each side of the ribbon and pull to close your jewelry bag:

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And your beautiful Jinja Jewelry bag is done! Holly is SO talented, we are eternally grateful for her beautiful work and support.

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Now you just have one more step to do….

Final Step:

Buy some amazing jewels to support the Nozomi Project. Even better? Host a sewing party to make these bags – and make it a Domo-Domo party by selling the beautiful Nozomi Project products at your party. And, if you’re extra motivated, you can even send them some of your very own beautiful broken pottery so they can make international symbols of peace, community, and economic growth after disaster.

YOUR ISSUE: Economic Growth

Now that you know what to do, let’s talk a bit about why this project is so important. Here are a few fast facts on economic growth & microfinance – and why supporting it is so important to our whole society:

Help economic development with an at-home service project be the change with Aina Giving and Jinja Jewels

Microloans are loans that are smaller than $50,000, given to people with higher credit risk, that require repayment within 7 years. Many organizations have popped up throughout the past few decades to support developing nations. Famously, the creator of the microcredit idea, Muhammad Yunus, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his work. Currently Muhammad Yunus’s organization predominantly supports women in microlending :).

Why should we care about microloans and economic growth? Because study after study shows that the best way to grow our future is through reducing income disparity. Microloans and economic growth in disaster-struck areas do just that. Many of the people that receive microcredit are not able to receive traditional loans because they haven’t established…credit. It’s a terrible catch-22. This project helps so much to support people that need it. If you’d like to do more, check out the Kiva Foundation – it’s a crowdfunding platform for microloans.

YOUR ORGANIZATION: The Nozomi Project

Economic Growth after a disaster is, above all else, is a story of hope. Started in 2012, the Nozomi Project eventually adopted the name “Nozomi” because, in Japanese, nozomi spells hope. Inspired by the beautiful broken pottery she found after the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster, Sue Plumb Takamoto gathered together a small group of women to create jewelry out of these broken shards. This jewelry is now a source of economic empowerment, growth in this shattered region, and hope for the women and families that have been left behind. They are amazing – and we love that they, just like Aina, are a socially conscious for-profit organization –  just one of the reasons they earned the Aina Accreditation.

Help economic development with an at-home service project be the change with Aina Giving and Jinja Jewels

You can see the whole video of the Nozomi Project Here, read more about what they are doing here, and find more ways to get involved here.

MEET YOUR MAKER: Holly from Just a Regular Ol’ Mom

This week we teamed up with the amazing, wonderful, and incredibly talented Holly to bring you this project!

Holly is a mom, a wife, and a crafter – she’s all the things that we are, too ;). Passionate about helping others, building strong communities, and quilting beautiful projects, Holly lent her sewing skills to help bring you this project. We couldn’t love it, or her, more. Thank you to all of our amazing Change Crafters that are helping us with such beautiful work!

Help economic development with an at-home service project be the change with Aina Giving and Jinja Jewels

GET CONNECTED TO AINA

We love more friends! Not only do we want you as a part of the Aina Ohana, but we’d love for you to share your creations with us on  Instagram! Follow us @ainagiving – and tag us with pics of your world-changing project!

Carmen Westbrook is the CEO and co-founder of Aina Giving, a female-led company that transforms women into world changers. Join the movement of DIY World Change and get our accredited projects, leadership coaching, and nonprofit consulting – email us and tell us how you want to change the world. We’ll help you get there.

Meet the Team behind Aina's Story | Uniting crafters and makers with charitable organizations for community driven volunteer world change