In Design—Fashion Designers, Trendsetters

Global Connections

From cast off to hand crafted, Adera Foundation’s jewelry unites women half a world away.

By Alison Foster

Opening the cover of Chrome magazine brings an entire world to life in brilliant color. Flashy Paint Horses and their fearless riders leap out from the paper and invite readers to dive in and explore the opportunities and lifestyles afforded by a horse that’s marked for greatness. In a blend of colors, stories and art, Chrome connects us to our pasts and emboldens our futures, celebrating the vibrant world APHA members live and love.

But half a world away, APHA’s signature coffee-table magazine and its glossy pages serve a different purpose, yet one that’s just as meaningful. A chance introduction between an APHA member and a passionate humanitarian has woven another colorful connection on the backs of our Paint Horses and given Chrome an unexpected purpose beyond the stories contained in each issue. Long after the magazines roll off the printer and the final words are read, the lustrous paper and bright hues come back to life, repurposed as elegant jewelry by the Adera Foundation while serving to help support the livelihoods of African women and their families.

A World Apart

On the outskirts of Ethiopia’s capital city of Addis Ababa sprawls a massive landfill known as Korah. A refuse-laden area approximately the size of 89 football fields, Korah’s foundation of decomposing garbage and mangled plastic supports a large community that’s intimately connected to the landfill. Silhouetted among the discarded heaps of detritus, colorfully garbed women, men and children scrape and sift through layers of refuse, scavenging for scraps to sell and sustenance for survival.

“Many are single mothers who are driven to Korah by the widespread drought, famine and poverty that plagues the region,” said Adera’s US Executive Director Julie Miller. “They are the poorest of the poor, and they are often forced to forage food from the landfill to feed their families.”

Desperate for their children to escape the poverty cycle and find a better life, women from this region frequently make the anguished decision to voluntarily surrender their sons and daughters to government-run orphanages. Some have been adopted by families abroad, including those from the United States.

“These adopted families, along with their friends and relatives, began searching for a way to give back to the Ethiopian community,” Julie explained. Their passion gave birth to the Adera Foundation.

Founded in 2009 by Caren and Joe Robertson and based in Fort Worth, Texas, Adera was originally limited to individual projects such as building libraries or schools; soon, however, the Christian-based mission evolved and adopted a long-term development approach to make greater impact in Ethiopia.

Building on its commitment to long-term and sustainable development, Adera’s initiatives now include a family sponsorship program, a daycare for children and, more recently, a bead-making program to support at-risk mothers from the community,” Julie said.

Family preservation is central to Adera’s mission, and as such, those involved in the organization were quick to realize that they needed to offer locals a way to end the cycle of poverty and economic instability that results in mothers placing their children up for adoption.

It started with the Adera daycare school in 2012, which now has space for 110 of the regions most vulnerable children,” Julie said. Once the children were in a safe space, we wanted to find a way to support their mothers so that, if necessary, they alone could meet their children’s needs. We knew that empowering these women was vital for keeping these families together.


This is an excerpt from the full article—get the whole story in the Spring 2019 Chrome magazine, which is sent to all current APHA members. Not a member? Join or renew at apha.com/join.


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