5 Gifts that Make a Difference for Kids (and the Artisans Behind Them)

December 4, 2015

Think children first while you holiday shop. Every purchase helps save children’s lives!

UNICEF Market is celebrating its first anniversary, one year of working in partnership with local artists to save and protect the world’s most vulnerable children. The purchase of any UNICEF Market gift helps fund the simple, low-cost interventions that have been saving children's lives for decades. 

The gifts are beautifully crafted — from locally sourced home decorations and unique wearables to holiday card sets — and each artist has a unique style, cultural flair and creative eye. Here, we spotlight five gifts and five talented artists who are working hard every day to share their trade and put children first.

By purchasing one or more of their creations, you not only support the artisans, but help children in need. UNICEF Market features thousands of handcrafted objects made by gifted artists around the world. Proceeds from the market support the artists as well as UNICEF programs that improve children’s lives everywhere.

1. Endless Love Sculpture: Artist Eka, Indonesia

Eka lost her husband in 2009 to a long illness, leaving her with a 3–year-old daughter and a 10-day-old son. She keeps her husband's memory alive by carving coconut shells found here, and her inspiration and craft come from the energy she gets from her children: “Even though I am alone, I always keep my spirit up and go on strong for my children.” Each of these handcrafted items has a story: a story about handed-down craftsmanship; a story about overcoming odds; a story about vision, independence and empowerment.

2. The Christmas Owls: Artists Margarita and Martha, Peru

In Peru, Margarita and Martha are hard at work as a mother-daughter team crafting holiday decorations using traditional materials in innovative ways, combining ribbons and fabrics with beads and tiny straw baskets found here. Margarita and Martha use their craft to share their love of Peru, saying, “We’d like the whole world to visit Peru and, of course, to enjoy our favorite handicrafts.”

3. Chai Phraya Belle Green Torsade Necklace: Artist Samalee Nawakul, Thailand

Samalee Nawakul beads away from her home in Isan in Northern Thailand. In the beginning, she started with a half a kilo of wooden beads, saying “I made a few necklaces with bright, noticeable colors, and I began selling them on the streets. My necklaces caught the attention of tourists, who liked them because they were affordable, lightweight and beautiful.” Samalee has gradually added new designs, found here, and sells her work at a Night Bazaar close to her home. 

4. Gold Plated and Sterling Silver Earrings: Artist Diah Arini , Bali

In Bali, Diah Arini is hard at work, designing and crafting silver jewelry to support herself and her family. Born in Celuk, renowned for its silversmiths, Diah felt confined when she became a mother and a housewife. Determined to make a difference, she followed her passion and found a niche in the jewelry-making business. Since 2012, Diah has developed a collection of women’s pieces, found here, that draw inspiration from both Balinese nature and local fashion trends. “My jewelry reflects me and the beauty I find in life.”

5. Scarves: K’amolon K’i K’ojonel, Women’s Organization, Guatemala 

In the Maya language, K'amolon K'i K'ojonel means "let's get together." That is the name of an association founded in 1987 to support women left widowed during Guatemala's years of conflict. Many, along with their children, were left living in extreme poverty, and weaving became a means of survival. Today, these women are enhancing economic opportunities within their communities and empowering other women to pick up the craft, seen here. K'amolon K'i K'ojonel has grown as a successful association for women, run by women, with 200 active members who are “Weaving a Better World.”

We encourage you to support these local artists and make a difference to children in need. Help UNICEF put children first by starting your holiday shopping here!

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