Work For Widows is the brainchild of Pam Porodo, a Canadian who moved overseas with her family in search of adventure in the 1990s. After spending time in countries as far flung as Dubai and Scotland, Pam and her husband Jerry settled in Sri Lanka, and were in the region when the 2004 tsunami hit.
Moved by the enormity of the devastation, the entrepreneurs shuttered their local businesses and poured all of their energy into emergency aid, founding a grassroots organization, coordinating hundreds of volunteers and assisting thousands of people that were victimized by the disaster.
It was in a displaced camp just outside Colombo that Pam encountered a young woman who changed her life. Twenty-one years old and pregnant, she’d lost her entire family in the tragedy. Now alone, homeless and hopeless, she was stockpiling stolen medicine, planning to commit suicide before the birth. Moved, Pam promised she’d find the young mother employment to support herself and her baby.
Driving back from camp, Pam passed a bead store and had a flash of inspiration. What if she commissioned this woman to make jewelry that she could then sell? The answer was clear and Work For Widows was created that very day.
Within weeks, the idea spread like wildfire. Scores of neighboring widows wanted work, too, and Pam’s army of artisans soon grew from twenty, to forty, to sixty women. These days, women in Haiti and Sri Lanka are producing exquisite handmade pieces that generate a wage that enables them to thrive.
Pam felt this idea could go further, though, and so now Work For Widows is closing the circle, enabling these talented artists to contribute to the well-being of women all around the world.