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Finding Inspiration Through A Love Affair With India

by Jane Reddyhoff

Jane Reddyhoff is the founder of Rize jewellery, inspired by the beautiful architecture and culture of India and hand-made by skilled artisans. All of their jewellery is made from recycled sterling silver, using sustainable crafting processes.

My family and I moved to Bangalore, India in 2014 and we lived there for nearly 5 years.  Bangalore wasn’t new to us, but living there with our nearly 3-year-old son was.  We moved primarily for my husband's work, but we were also struggling to shake our travel wanderlust, even having had our son, so we said we would give it 6 months to see how we got on.

India is a complete assault on the senses, the colour, the chaos and the fascinating culture are like no other country I have experienced.  It is true to say that all life is visible in India, the good, the bad and the ugly.  Bangalore, is a modern, cosmopolitan city, but the extreme divide between the rich and poor is still very visible.  People with disabilities begging in the streets, children walking through polluted traffic selling anything they can find and exhausted mothers carrying their babies asking for a few rupees.  All this was a daily reminder of just how much need there was. However, there was also another side to the city, where the wealthy shopped in malls for Jimmy Choo shoes and lunched in the finest restaurants.  Supercars navigated pot-holed roads and affluent young Bangaloreans partied in bars and clubs at the weekend. 

Most expatriates I met living in the city either loved it or completely struggled with it.  For me, it was a deep love affair.  The experience that made me connect with India so deeply, was volunteering for two children’s charities in Bangalore. Both charities look after children from impoverished areas, most were either orphaned by parents with HIV or they themselves had HIV and were abandoned by their parents. Jagruthi Trust and The Freedom Foundation both house, educate and feed these children, giving them a second chance in life. 

I visited the children many times and organised various events to raise awareness and funds.  I learned about some of the children’s traumatic start in life involving illness, neglect, abuse and abandonment. I will admit there were times when I was overwhelmed learning about their experiences, but their remarkable resilience and humility taught me to be truly grateful for my blessings in life. I was reminded that we must all share what we have and that true human happiness comes from human connection and service to others. 

Sadly we had to leave India in 2018, but I vowed that I would continue to raise awareness for these children and find a way to continue to raise funds too. Just before the pandemic hit the world globally, my family and I returned to India for a visit.  My mission was to source Fairtrade jewellery artisans who could produce a collection for me.  While there I sourced some beautiful vintage jewellery which I started to sell online. Soon after that, I designed my own jewellery collection with an organisation of artisans in Jaipur who are World Fairtrade Organisation and Fairtrade Forum India registered.  Not only do the artisans get paid fairly, but they also receive financial help with their children’s schooling and their family's medical care. 

Rize Jewellery is inspired by the fascinating culture and beautiful architecture of incredible India. 10% of all sales go directly to Jagruthi Trust and The Freedom Foundation. My dream is to start The Rize Foundation which will provide for both charitable communities on a larger scale, building new educational centres, and home care centres and sponsoring children for educational scholarships.  

I look forward to my next visit to India, where I will visit the children to deliver kind donations made by Rize customers. I will also be working with the artisans on my exciting new jewellery collection. Atulya Bharat! (Incredible India!)

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