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Written by Magaly Fuentes - Tuesday, 28 September 2010


According to studies by The World Bank discussed on Global Issues:

  • Almost half the world (over 3 billion people) lives on less than $2.50 a day.
  • At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day.
  • The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the 41 Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (567 million people) is less than the wealth of the world’s 7 richest people combined.
  • 1 billion children live in poverty (1 in 2 children in the world). 640 million live without adequate shelter, 400 million have no access to safe water, 270 million have no access to health services. 10.6 million died in 2003 before they reached the age of 5 (or roughly 29,000 children per day).
  • Less than one per cent of what the world spent every year on weapons was needed to put every child into school by the year 2000 and yet it didn’t happen.
  • Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names.
  • Based on enrollment data, about 72 million children of primary school age in the developing world were not in school in 2005; 57 per cent of them were girls. And these are regarded as optimistic numbers.

The sad reality is that there is a lot of poverty in this world and poverty fuels a vicious cycle that includes a lack of education. Another reality is the fact of gender inequality and how the effects of poverty and lack of education result in a seemingly inescapable path for many young women all over the world.

Studies show that providing education for young women in the developing world is key in societal progress with a reduction in fertility rates, a decrease in infant and child mortality rates, protection against diseases, more women in the labor force, educated women encouraging their children to pursue an education, a decline in youth violence, a decline in domestic abuse and a decline in human trafficking. With results like that, why wouldn’t everyone in the world, who has the means to invest in any small way, invest in education?

The green movement is about more than just using sustainable materials and developing innovative ways to live without damaging the environment. It is about creating a better world, especially for the large part of the global population who lead a daily struggle to survive. The eco-revolution is therefore intrinsically linked to the fair trade movement and other initiatives to bring good health and education to the developing world.



For the many who have the power to change things and know it may take a small effort to do so, it is just about a decision and there are companies such as the Andean Collection, a U.S.-based company that collaborates with NYC designers and Ecuadorian artisans to create bold and beautiful jewelry, who have made that decision to promote a healthier world with an “of course I will” and “when can I start” attitude.






Andean Collection, lead by owner and designer Amanda Judge, has an almost exclusively female staff of artisans and they currently pay for the education of their staff member’s children as well as offer to pay for the education of any adult staff member who wishes to return to school. This is a huge incentive for their team of artisans and something the Andean Collection deeply believes in as they watch their generous initiative change lives before their eyes.


I asked Amanda to share a personal story related to her team and her work to support the education of her artisans. Here is a direct example of how The Andean Collection is helping to change lives:

“We had one worker, Patricia, who was 16 and wasn't going to school anymore. Her parents thought that there wasn't any reason for a girl to get an education. She actually inspired us to start this program because we realized that programs that bring employment to a village are fabulous, but they can also put more of an emphasis on working while taking emphasis away from education. As result, we created a policy that any school age young adult who wanted to work for us also had to be in school and could work for us part time in the afternoons while we would pay for the schooling. We had to talk to Patricia's parents ourselves because they did not want her in school. We explained to them that our organization is growing in their community and that we will need women who know how to make jewelry, but also know how to do math and write well, to help us expand in the future years. Once they saw that education would not be wasted, they agreed to let her go back to school. Since we also bought her an indigenous outfit, she was no longer ashamed of going out of the house as they believe women should only be seen in indigenous dress otherwise it is looked down on as what they equivocate to ‘low class’. Patricia now happily goes to school and loves math!”



The approach the Andean Collection has taken to empower the women with whom they work is a long term strategy to raise the education level of the community. Investing in women’s education means the future generations will have a better chance at a better life. Bringing employment to the communities means that the education will be put to good use.

Education is a tool for poverty alleviation. Education is an empowering investment in human capital.

It only costs $350 to sponsor a child for a year of schooling, including school fees, materials and uniforms. If you want to sponsor a child for a year of schooling in Ecuador, you can make a donation to the Andean Collection's non profit arm, The Andean Project by calling (347) 627-0098 or emailing This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

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