At a point in my late teen years, I was one signature away from joining the Peace Corps. But before that spec of time, there was my younger teen years, a period in which I was heavily engrossed in International Affairs. Most of my interest was embedded with Africa. I dreamt of being a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador and traveling to Northern Africa. My family thought I was crazy because where I wanted to specifically make an impact (Sudan), was at the time, in a state of crisis – with a western region (Darfur) being described as one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.
After sharing all of that, I must note that my personal backlog is not what is important here. What’s important is that with the ever-growing, widespread participation of developing countries in World Trade, and the partnering interests of Americans with such communities, I see a glimpse of hope. A hope that through social enterprises (like the one being featured in this article), there can be an “increase of economic opportunity” to empower developing countries and in return, make the world a better place for all who inhabit it.
I recently had the fortunate opportunity to connect with Elisabetta, a California native with the same love of traveling and worldly treasures that I engross! Although she has a lot of credentials under her belt (like once creating her own fashion line in Milan), it was her work with a non-profit organization (in N.Y.C.) that blessed her with real-world experience and encounters with recent immigrants from Africa and Latin America.
Along her path, she started studying global affairs, had a personal experience with the United Nations, and ultimately joined the Peace Corps and moved to Mozambique – which then sparked her founding of KURANDZA .
Here is more about her time in Africa:
“While living in Guijá, a small village in southern Mozambique, Elisabetta Colabianchi served as a Community Health Volunteer with the Peace Corps. Her main role was to work at a hospital, counseling HIV-positive women on treatment adherence and the prevention of HIV transmission to their children. During her work she realized that many patients living in surrounding rural villages, would abandon treatment because they could not pay for transportation to the hospital to pick-up their medicine each month. Because of this, Elisabetta and her good friend and community counterpart, Percina Miocha, started a women’s sewing cooperative for HIV-positive women, with the goal of teaching them a skill that would earn enough income to pay for the monthly transportation costs to the hospital, helping the women stay adherent and healthy.
Elisabetta and Percina successfully received grant funds, procured all equipment and materials, and built their small workshop with the women. They began to sell jewelry and accessories made from capulana, a traditional cloth of Mozambique. Sales from these items allowed the women to not only pay for transportation to the hospital, but to also buy other basic household items, school books and uniforms for their children, and to start saving for their future.”
So, Kurandza is a purpose-driven fashion company that creates handcrafted jewelry and accessories with women in Mozambique. My favorite Kurandza earrings (pictured-below) were created by Zulfa, a twenty-two-year-old mother from a small village in South-Eastern Africa.
The Xonga medium stud button earrings are a very pretty pair of earrings! The word “xonga” come from the word meaning “pretty” in Changana, the local language of Kurandza’s artisans in southern Mozambique. They are handmade from traditional capulana wax-print cotton fabric and metal buttons:
The “Capulana” fabric is used in various African countries – many women wrap this traditional cloth around their waists as a skirt, use it as a head wrap, or even use to carry babies on their backs. It comes in a variety of vibrant colors and represents the history, values, and cultures of such beautiful places and their people.
Visit www.kurandza.com to see more beautiful one-of-a-kind pieces, including earrings, bracelets, and tote bags.