This Christmas, you can empower widows, abandoned mothers and orphans by buying handcrafted gifts online from C.A.R.E. Africa, an organization founded by Southeast Christian Church member Patrice Miles and Nigerian Emmanuel Salako to help struggling moms earn enough to survive and send their children to school.
Items at C.A.R.E. Africa Etsy store (www.careafricastore.com) include dolls, bracelets, clothing, backpacks, purses, baskets, sandals and more. Each purchase benefits artisans and children in C.A.R.E. Africa.
Women have to bead a lot of necklaces to make enough to pay $300 a year for school fees, but they are willing to work and grateful for the opportunity. The women have also learned to sew and make sandals.
Lenny and Patrice Miles saw need every day while living and working at a mission hospital in Egbe, Nigeria. There are no safety nets for those who cannot earn money to provide food, clothing or school fees. C.A.R.E. encourages, empowers and disciples them.
What happens at C.A.R.E. Africa changes the way life looks for many families. On Wednesdays, women gather for Bible study and to learn how to bead, sew, make palm sandals, run a grinding machine or run a catering business. These skills give tools to earn a living.
“There are plenty of artisans throughout Nigeria who do beautiful work,” Patrice Miles said. “But unless they live in a tourist area or city, they are not able to sell their goods. C.A.R.E. pays artisans for their products, then sells them in the online Etsy store. We also care for and disciple artisans.”
C.A.R.E. also sponsors a home-care program for orphans that allows them to stay with a family member while providing scholarships, weekly accountability, tutoring and mentoring for the entire family.
“After studying orphan care and a lot of prayer, we realized the importance for orphans to remain in their community,” Miles said. “African culture values tribal heritage, and the tribe will come alongside to help. The home-care program helps caretakers care for children in the community. Our staff visits them weekly and comes alongside them.”
C.A.R.E. started an elementary school for 118 children that is supported by sales from the Etsy store as well as providing income for artisans.
Children enrolled in the C.A.R.E. Africa program learn about Jesus through AWANA, a discipleship program. Friday discipleship for older children gives them a chance to learn about God and ask questions.