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The first time I went to Calcutta I tried to chat with some street kids. One precocious little girl pointed to my very simple hair clips obviously wanting them. I took one out and handed it to her. I mean why not? But as I took off the second one a different little hand reached out—and I handed it to the second girl instead.

The girls began to brawl. I mean, full-out, screeching, hair-pulling, pushing and shoving over my second hair clip. The first thought it had been promised to her and the second one thought otherwise. I had no language skills to help me at this point, and no adult nearby seemed to care. Other children laughed and pointed and just made things worse.

It was clear that the argument wasn’t going to end any time soon and in my ignorance I had done more harm than good.

While all people make mistakes in a new enviroment, the best plan is to not try to ‘help’ until you have some understanding of what you’re doing in that particular place, that particular culture, those specific circumstances.

Holding Hope Collection jewellery comes from social enterprises started by people who took the time to do just that. They immersed themselves in the culture, learned the specific needs of the community they were in, and did a LOT of reasearch before they opened their doors and offered training and employment to women who needed something that was going to actually help and be sustainable long-term.