Rapaport Magazine


By Amber Michelle, Editor-in-Chief
 Grace with her “Go Inside” pendant at the JA NY Show.
Photo courtesy
Sandro Art & Photography.

This is the story of Grace and how jewelry is helping her build a new life. Grace and her family fled the Liberian civil war for a refugee camp in Ghana when she was eight months old. As Grace grew up, her deepest desire was to go to school, but it cost money the family did not have. When Grace was seven years old, her mother made arrangements with a wealthy woman who promised to send Grace to school. In exchange, Grace would live with this woman’s family and do their housework. Grace moved in with the family who, instead of sending her to school, turned her into a slave while pretending that Grace was their daughter. The family worked Grace hard, beat her mercilessly and told her that she was a ”born slave.” To survive her ordeal, Grace would seek refuge behind a large wooden door that was off its hinges and propped against a wall. In that place, she would “go inside” herself and imagine a better time. One day, when she was 18, Grace was doing laundry. She heard a voice tell her to “go inside.” She ignored the voice, knowing that if she didn’t do her chores, she would be beaten. But the voice persisted, so Grace went into the house. There, on a table, she found her UN ID card — the one that proved she was not her captor’s daughter. Grace took the card and ran to a neighbor and got help. That day she was free. Grace was brought to the Strongheart Fellows Program, which facilitates intensive healing and learning for young people of exceptional promise who come from extreme traumatized backgrounds — child slaves, child soldiers and survivors of war, genocide or disaster. The program also teaches its members how to become entrepreneurs in order to exit the cycle of poverty. Many create products that draw inspiration from their past experiences. Grace has created a pendant that is a door, with the words “go inside.” Other members of the program have also created jewelry for the Strongheart product line. The proceeds from the collection go to support the Strongheart Fellows community, giving the members of the group a means to support themselves. Grace, who is now 21, was at the JA New York winter show, where her necklace debuted, along with some other jewelry pieces from the Strongheart product line. The products have attracted the attention of numerous celebrities, as well as national consumer magazines and television. Retailers who may be interested in this collection can find out more by going to strongheartjewelry.com.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - February 2012. To subscribe click here.

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