• The Make It Good campaign is helping young women and girls in poverty (Etsy)Source: Etsy
Nari Kim is taking part in an Australian and New Zealand initiative to help make girls living in poverty financially independent through education and skill exchange.
Bianca Soldani

11 Oct 2016 - 9:28 AM  UPDATED 11 Oct 2016 - 1:51 PM

When Nari Kim moved to Melbourne from her native South Korea, one of the things that helped her settle in was her craft. The mother-of-two creates embroidered brooches and felt and fabric accessories which people began noticing on her handbag.

"I migrated four years ago and it was really tough, it's still tough. I do speak English but I found the culture difference very difficult," she tells SBS.

"But then I always take my bag around with me, and people were looking at me and being so kind with their feedback and their compliments, and this one lady at my kids' swimming pool actually told me I have to sell these."

Nari now lists her creations on online handmade marketplace Etsy, and is one of a host of sellers participating in their Make For Good campaign to help skill disadvantaged young women around the world.

Products under the theme of “creating brighter futures for girls”, are on offer as part of the initiative which partners with Plan International Australia to donate 20 per cent of revenue to educating and empowering girls living in poverty.

According to UNICEF, young women with access to education are “less likely to marry early and against their will, less likely to die in childbirth, more likely to have healthy babies, and are more likely to send their children to school”. Thus learning new skills through ongoing education is crucial to breaking the cycle of poverty, and the possibility of self-employment gives the 15.5 per cent of unemployed young women around the world a chance to be financially independent. 

“If we want to end poverty in our lifetime, we must release the potential of all women and that begins by empowering them to support themselves and their families," Plan CEO Ian Wishart says in a press release.

"When a woman earns a steady and fair income, she will invest 90 per cent back into her family, breaking the cycle of intergenerational disadvantage."

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A range of handmade goods from jewellery to soap, homewares and toys will be up for sale as part of Etsy and Plan’s initiative which is now in its second year.

In excess of $30,000 was raised by the campaign in 2015 and two sellers went to Cambodia to impart their individual skills to a community of women and girls in person.

This year, a particular focus will be paid to Sri Lanka where they plan to train 360 young women in a number of skills, and provide business start-up funding for 100 of those.

For Nari, she chose to be involved to help make the world a better place. "I'm a mum and if there's any kid around the world that's suffering and going through things that he or she shouldn't be going through, that matters to me and should matter to my kids," she says.

"I believe that in order for my kids to be happier and more prosperous, the whole world has to be better."

Since moving to Australia, Nari has taken inspiration for her work from the natural world she sees around her. Coming from the highly urbanised city of Seoul, she didn't grow up surrounded by greenery and flowers and animals now feature strongly in her broaches and the hand drawn and coloured cards also she makes.

Every element of her work is handmade - even down to the beads which she moulds herself from clay - and personal, and her drawings holds a particular sentimental value.

"My father loved sketching and he passed away just before we came to Australia," she says.

"It took my mother many years to really accept the fact that he's gone but a big part of her healing was colouring. Colouring was the only thing that could really keep her calm and focused on not thinking about dad, so I do that a lot, I do sketches for her and she colours them.

"Colouring and creating cards is a healing process for me too," Nari explains.

Her products and the Make For Good collection can be viewed on Etsy's website.

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