I met Amy Breitmann at the Winsome Retreat, she is the Vice President of Marketing of Vi Bella Jewelry. Vi Bella is an amazing ministry! I’m honored to have her share today! Read and be inspired!
There are a couple of responses that we can have when we see injustice, poverty, and despair. We can be afraid, humbled, saddened, dismayed and do nothing. Or we can get on our knees and pray that God will use us. Little, seemingly small, ill-equipped us.
I am glad that world-changers choose the latter.
Julie Hulstein is one person who chose to be used to make a dream a reality. And it was a God-sized dream. An undertaking and calling that would stretch her and eventually many others to impact poverty in tangible, life-changing ways.
After traveling from Iowa to Haiti in 2010, Julie’s heart was grieved by the extreme poverty and the destruction caused by the earthquake. The people of Haiti had lived with overwhelming lack for generations and this weighed heavily on her. As she returned to her home in Iowa, something stirred. The face of one woman who had hosted her in her small tent haunted her. But more so, her words stayed with her. The words lacked hope. The name that this young woman had given her: “Mama Julie,” began to define a calling.
One thing that Julie knew for certain was that in a country where there were more aid workers on the ground than any other place in the world, handouts were not the answer. Employment was. She thought about her own daughter, who was about the same age as the young Haitian girl. This young girl was immersed in bleak circumstances. Julie couldn’t imagine leaving her daughter in such conditions. She prayed. There had to be a way to help. A plan was birthed out of this prayer.
And so the concept for Vi Bella Jewelry began in 2011. The word “Vi Bella” means “beautiful life,” and this became the goal of everything that sprung from this ministry~ to create beautiful lives for women and families. The idea was to design jewelry and hire women from Simonette, a small village outside Port Au Prince to be the artisans.
From the very beginning, Vi Bella used materials that were part of the landscape of Haiti. Plastic bottles that littered the beaches and streets were gathered, sanitized, molded and painted to make bottle beads. Strung together they told a story of making broken things beautiful. In much the same way, newspaper was recycled into making paper beads: rolled, glued, painted and finished to tell a story of redemption.
What began as a small call to respond, has grown into an organization that now employs more than thirty artisans. Expanding from one original center in Simonette, Haiti, to four centers- two in Haiti, one in Croc, Mexico, and a home office in Sioux Center, Iowa. All employ artisans who earn an above-average daily wage and are given the opportunity to attend bible studies. In addition, artisan’s children are sponsored to have the opportunity to attend school, and Vi Bella gives back to the communities where they operate.
Each day artisans, their families, and communities are made more beautiful.
All of us here at Vi Bella are so glad Julie answered a call and invited others to be world-changers.
And you can be part of the ongoing beautiful story. By becoming a Beautiful Life Ambassador, hosting a beautiful life gathering, or purchasing Vi Bella jewelry, you contribute to the God-sized dream that is still unfolding in these lives and communities.
Vice President of Marketing, Vi Bella Jewelry