I'm Going to Rwanda with Noonday...and Maybe You Are Too
by Jen Hatmaker on May 14th, 2014

I’ve been WAITING WAITING WAITING to tell you something awesome and exciting…
Perhaps I’ve made my feelings about Noonday Collection clear, yes? Like how you’ve seen me wearing their jewelry in approximately all the pictures that exist of me. And how my friend Jessica has developed the most amazing social enterprise in which vulnerable women in nine different countries make beautiful, and I do mean beautiful jewelry and bags and accessories, creating sustainable income and transforming their families and communities. And how Noonday also creates amazing job opportunities for the Ambassadors here who get to tell the story.
Women here for women everywhere.
So guess what? This summer, we're fusing fashion and justice as Noonday Collection partners with International Justice Mission for the #StyleForJustice Story Team Trip to Rwanda.

Guess who is going?
Please enjoy this picture of me with my adult braces.
"How could she possibly be cooler?" asked no one.

But guess who else might be going?
Want to join us in Rwanda on an ALL EXPENSE PAID trip as we #StyleForJustice? We are offering the opportunity to include someone we may not yet know to come with us! Tell us why YOU want to join us in winning people's hearts to chase a global vision of economic empowerment and justice, and you could win a spot on our team!
You’ll have to enter and rally your social community to vote for you every day until the contest closes. Ultimately, the person who is able to harness her community and convince them to support her in going will win. We believe this person will end up being a powerful advocate that can then bring her community along with her!
Everything you need to enter is at this site. You have until May 28th to enter and vote! And don't worry, we want as many people to advocate with us as possible, so we'll be giving away a $100 Noonday gift card and a signed copy of IJM Founder Gary Haugen's latest book, The Locust Effect to 10 lucky entrants, chosen at random.

Isn't this the most exciting thing you've ever heard???? YOU COULD COME TO RWANDA WITH US AND MEET THE NOONDAY ARTISANS AND FALL MADLY IN LOVE! We've all been dying to tell you. My fellow storytellers and I are thrilled beyond words. We hope you'll follow our trip and meet the Rwandan women and see all the beauty and goodness and sisterhood that is Noonday Collection, whether you watch from home or snag that one amazing spot on our trip. Here is a little message from the team:

Channeling my dog Randy Jackson, WHO IS IN IT TO WIN IT???? Rally your troops! Win your spot! We cheering you on and cannot WAIT to find out who is coming with us!

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Desirie Dougall - May 14th, 2014 at 8:48 AM
Oh my gosh!!! I've been to Rwanda the last 2 summers and you are going to LOVE IT!! It's the most beautiful place I've ever been! I've met wonderful people, participated in amazing worship and continue to support connections I made there! I hope you have an awesome time :)
Jim - May 14th, 2014 at 8:50 AM
Hmmm, maybe a man would like to be part of something like this? Just sayin...
Anne Mary Orr - May 14th, 2014 at 8:55 AM
I'm a dentist, and I DO think that you and your adult braces are the coolest!
Emily - May 14th, 2014 at 8:57 AM
Well just shut your mouth. IJM, empowering women, beautiful jewelry, storytelling, and some of my favorite authors? Hmm, let me think for a minute. PICK ME!! :)
Chesle Blair - May 14th, 2014 at 9:06 AM
Yes please!!! Pick me, pick me!!
Holly Colby - May 14th, 2014 at 9:10 AM
I have gone to Guatemala but I'd love love to go to Rwanda!!
Sara - May 14th, 2014 at 9:11 AM
I so wish I could go! It's the ultimate! Maybe one day!!!
Tammy Holm - May 14th, 2014 at 9:22 AM
Oh my gosh. I love this!
Jenny - May 14th, 2014 at 9:24 AM
This IS the most exciting thing I've ever heard!!! I'm in LOVE!
gina - May 14th, 2014 at 9:26 AM
I love africa and have been to other countries but not Rwanda- I am involved with Young Life in africa and God is moving in the hearts of high school kids- I want to go and see this work and maybe partner with your trip! Pick me! I have my shots and PP- ready to roll
Kathy - May 14th, 2014 at 9:30 AM
Women. Jesus. The Word. Hope. Love. Making a heart difference for Heaven's sake in ministry. Yes please.
Shari - May 14th, 2014 at 9:36 AM
Love. Never been a part of anything other than raising children. I've been able to send them to Haiti, Costa Rica, and Belize! Would love to come home like they did. Changed!
Kelsey O'Neal - May 14th, 2014 at 9:46 AM
Wow this is so awesome! My best friend Amy Bardi started Clothed in Hope, a similar organization that teaches widowed women in Zambia to sew so they can be providers for their children. It's been awesome to witness the work God has done through Clothed in Hope, I would love to be a part of what God is doing in Rwanda through Noonday!
Catherine - May 14th, 2014 at 10:45 AM
You'll be hearing from me about this soon.
Sheri - May 14th, 2014 at 11:24 AM
I was ready to submit stuff until I realized I will be in Haiti that time frame. I love and am inspired by the work of IJM so would love to have been able to travel with this great organization! Oh well, God's work is being done all over the world, and I am so blessed to get to be a part of it wherever that may be! Have a great trip!
wynne - May 14th, 2014 at 11:40 AM
can't wait, can't wait, can't wait!!!!
Renee Grogan - May 14th, 2014 at 11:56 AM
"Be shepherds of God%u2019s flock that is under your care, watching over them%u2014not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve;" 1 Peter 5:2.

I LOVE Noonday! I have a necklace that I wear at least once a week! I would love to serve as the hands and feet of Jesus and help further this work while being transformed for good.
Amy - May 14th, 2014 at 12:09 PM
Dear Jesus, if you want me to go, please let them pick me.
Sarah - May 14th, 2014 at 12:22 PM
If I weren't currently 6 months pregnant, I'd totally be entering this! What a beautiful opportunity!!!
Renee Grogan - May 14th, 2014 at 12:29 PM
"Be shepherds of God%u2019s flock that is under your care, watching over them%u2014not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve;" 1 Peter 5:2.

I LOVE Noonday! I have a necklace that I wear at least once a week! I would love to serve as the hands and feet of Jesus and help further this work while being transformed for good.
Lisa - May 14th, 2014 at 12:38 PM
Thank you for sharing this opportunity, I entered and I'm sharing and rallying as much support as I can!
desiree - May 14th, 2014 at 2:19 PM
"Speak out on behalf of the voiceless, and for the rights of all who are vulnerable." Proverbs 31:8

Hoping to join you!
Jen - May 14th, 2014 at 2:48 PM
I'm definitely entering!!! Not sure how much rallying I can get, but what an amazing life changing opportunity!
Heather - May 14th, 2014 at 4:04 PM
Jen - I totally need to go! How long is the plane ride to Rwanda? We will have so much to talk about!!!
Raechel Myers - May 14th, 2014 at 5:43 PM
So stinkin' excited, Jen! Praying now that the Holy Spirit will teach us and use us for His glory! xo
(also - this is going to be so fun!!)
Ilse - May 14th, 2014 at 6:59 PM
This is really exciting news! Africa . . . my heart says, YES!! Pick me :)
Kelli - May 14th, 2014 at 8:29 PM
What fine. I really, REALLY wish I could enter, but given that I'm due to have a baby in September, I have a sneaking suspicion that ever single person I know would be less than supportive of me trekking my 7 months pregnant belly to Rwanda. Like it would be dangerous or something... ;) But I'm excited for you all and the lucky winner!
Pansy - May 14th, 2014 at 8:55 PM
Oh I hope I get to go, I am so ready to go with you. Thank you so much for the opportunity to have a chance to go.
Christina - May 14th, 2014 at 9:55 PM
Doing my video on Sunday!!
Kate Rockett - May 14th, 2014 at 10:37 PM
Would love to go because I am the same kind of different as you!
De Grable - May 14th, 2014 at 11:09 PM
no clever words, just I want this... I want to go. I need to go. I need to experience life in another culture. I am being open. I want to spread my heart and my wings and fly to another place and talk about Jesus.
Rebecca - May 15th, 2014 at 2:13 PM
I've recently fallen in love with orphans abroad and would love to add Rwanda to my list!


Stephanie - May 15th, 2014 at 4:05 PM
I originally left this comment on Facebook, but I deleted it there and am posting it here instead.

Do you have the financial info for Noonday? I've been trying to find it, but all I see is that they aren't a non-profit and are a MLM. How much is really going back into the communities? How much are the items marked up to sell here in the US? Which percentage of profits is given to the sales reps here and what percentage goes back to the artisans?

I'm a little shocked to see you participating in this. I don't really see how this isn't just poverty tourism (especially given some of the other bloggers who are going).

I'm really not trying to be rude, but you have done so much good for poverty awareness and social causes. I am just trying to wrap my head around you participating in this. Why is it better to send over a group of bloggers to take photos and what have you rather than just give the money to the artisans to better their lives? After reading about the Noonday Guatemala trip I was appalled. The bloggers talked about cocktails, the hotel, the shopping, etc...almost nothing about the talented women whose stories they were supposed to be telling.

I doubt you will reconsider going, but I wish you would. I've been reading your blog forever, and I have read all of your books (most multiple times). However, I think this may just be the dealbreaker. It seems like the antithesis for everything you stand for when it comes to helping others.
Katriel - May 19th, 2014 at 1:47 PM
Seconded. I'm really disappointed that you're participating in this commercial poverty-tourism "adventure" for white women. If you want to "tell the stories" of women impacted by this multilevel marketing company, why don't you let them tell their own stories? I don't think they need a pack of middle class, white, American women coming over to do it for them.
Karen Hopeland - May 15th, 2014 at 7:01 PM
I love you and am a HUGE fan but am disappointed in this decision. Reading the comments over at Kelle Hampton's blog (kellehampton.com) has really opened my eyes to poverty tourism and the ambiguous nature of this... charity? What is it? Anyway, I'd recommend you read over there to get more info
Lauren Mills - May 15th, 2014 at 8:55 PM
Karen - I have a strong opinion against poverty tourism and have tasted bits of it myself on past trips. There is certainly a fine line. But I think I am missing something in your comment... Noonday is EMPOWERING women by employing them and paying them beyond fair wages. I see job creation as the very opposite of charity and absolutely one of the best, if not the best, tool by which to equip and empower others out of poverty. The trip, it appears to me, is to demonstrate to others this powerful tool of poverty alleviation, and, much more importantly, to tell the true, real stories of lives changed not by charity, but by equipping.
Molly - June 9th, 2014 at 5:02 PM
What are their wages? I can't find anything specific.
Judy - May 16th, 2014 at 9:41 AM
See GOMI's recent post regarding these priveledged white women going on this trip. That explains everything about this pathetic venture. And Kelle Hampton as one of the choices?! Unbelievably lame.
Cheri - May 16th, 2014 at 10:13 AM
I have entered and am working on rallying the troops! Oh my goodness, what a trip of a lifetime!

oh please - May 16th, 2014 at 10:23 AM
People have put forth great questions on GOMI. Summarizing, will (and how) permission be granted by the enevitable pictures that will be taken and used on your blogs of the poor, underpriviledged people you will exploit on your blogs to get the faux praise you ladies can't seem to live without on a daily basis? How can we be sure they will want their faces all over blogs like Hampton's? Also, how about all the money you earn from the page views you will get after this trip? Any money going back to the people there from this? That was a rhetorical question because we all know the answer.
taylor - May 16th, 2014 at 2:41 PM
can we start a real fundraiser to raise real funds and really give the funds to those in need to have these women NOT go?
Emma - May 17th, 2014 at 12:34 PM
All expenses for 9 American people to travel to and stay/eat/transport around Rwanda is a life's fortune to the Rwandan women. And the money to fund this trip presumably comes from the fruit of the Rwandan women's artistic efforts. This means there must be a staggering markup between what is paid to the women for their work and what is earned for the sale of their goods. I'm not sure how you can justify using the money generated by the work of these women to fund your trip - when it's so clear this money could change lives over there, if invested as seed money into a fair enterprise for these women. Their "story" as told by American white women is not going to change their lives. The women who went to Guatemala told "the story" of a very small subset of the workers there and it didn't help empower those women - it only empowered the bloggers. Leaving off how exploitative the blog posts were - and I see that Noonday removed those blog posts, with very good reason - did the women who met the bloggers actually benefit financially and in quality of life terms from the money they helped generate that was used to fund the airline tickets and cars and food for the bloggers?

Can't you envision a world in which this same amount of money could be used to truly help a Rwandan community by giving them access to the US market, rather than paying them a wage that has only ever been described as that which would allow them to live, in exchange for all their hard work? Instead of taking a huge cut of the money they earn for you, and using it to fund travel, why not give them the cost of the trip and let them use it as seed money to build a real business? Or, better yet, take all the money that would be used to transport you and house you and feed you - and make a business loan to the women that they can repay as their business grows. Let them take a percentage of their own earnings, rather than paying a living wage, whatever that is as it has never been disclosed.

As an act of charity, you could put them in touch with customers - your friends, neighbors and readers - without taking a cut of their money the way you do now. Let them for the first time see the true value of their arts and jewelry in the US market. Let them experience the bounty, rather than siphoning the bounty of the money into your own pocket.

Please don't use the money gained from all their hard work to give you an all expenses paid trip to their home. Telling their stories won't help them. Giving them fair access to the resources they earn WILL help them. I'd like to ask you to donate your money to these women's business and do some real good in this world.
Pixelfish - May 19th, 2014 at 4:56 PM
Hear! Hear! Emma has neatly outlined why I have issues with this contest and Noonday's strategies!
Maureen - May 21st, 2014 at 12:43 PM

I am sick of priviledged white christian women making themselves feel better, getting the photo op and blog promotion and making money off of people in other countries. Donate the airfare etc to charity. Stay home...and that selfie? Well it pretty well sums up the attitude of the bloggers going...look at me look at me! Disgusting quite frankly.
Leslie Kay Cummings - May 17th, 2014 at 4:08 PM
This is exploitation, slave wages to the poor artisans and a glorified pyramid scheme. Do your homework before singing the praises of this organization. Their top executives get paid ridiculously high salaries while recruiting "Ambassadors" to do their marketing and sales. (think of Avon, Amway, etc.) The markup is 200% for the handcrafted items produced by the women of Rwanda who get paid crumbs. It's another get rich scheme for the greedy under the guise of helping others. Anyone with a drop of integrity would have nothing to do with Noonday. They are using well to do, high profile American women to recruit Ambassadors to do their dirty work. There is nothing respectable or honorable about this organization.
Lisa - May 20th, 2014 at 9:41 PM
Leslie, Noonday is not a pyramid scheme, or an MLM. They are direct sales but they have no downlines. Just FYI.
Elizabeth Miller - May 18th, 2014 at 6:17 PM
PAGE 13......find me and VOTE FOR ME!! ELIZABETH MILLER :)
Laura - May 18th, 2014 at 8:30 PM
Jen, I love Noonday and their heart for the vulnerable. Love you and how you are pursuing Jesus and humbly trying to rally the women of our generation for something greater than ourselves. I love that we can take very small steps in making changes in this world. I would have LOVE to have gone to Rwanda with y'all, but my husband and I will be taking our youth group on a trip during that time. Keep doing your thing, Jen - loving Jesus, serving others. We're with you, sister.
Jen - May 18th, 2014 at 11:10 PM
Tag teaming with Kelle Hampton will make you LOSE readers. She is the absolute worst and the worst example of a mother.
Melissa - May 19th, 2014 at 6:56 PM
I uploaded my submission, but don't see it on the list of vote's. when will it be available?
Nicole B - May 19th, 2014 at 10:11 PM
I'm fascinated by this. I read the comments on the Kelle Hampton site and they were....wow....intense. For me, I see #StyleForJustice hashtag and think....groan...this is so cheesy and yes, it's a promotional thing to get bloggers to come talk about their stuff and their staff and play up the questionable "justice" component of paying better than average wages (it's nice, doesn't make you a hero). I get that this is not a huge win for the people of Rwanda, but from the comments you would think these women were going there to deplete the country of its mineral wealth and leave a trail of tears and agony in their wake. It's 9 women going to shop in Rwanda and then write about how great the company is....definitely not the worst problem facing East Africa these days.
emily - May 20th, 2014 at 9:26 AM
Yup, just a bunch of superficial, bored, self absorbed housewives looking for more recognition to feed their gigantic egos. These woman are zeros.
Nicole B. - May 20th, 2014 at 1:01 PM
But the thing is, I don't get the angst. "These woman (sic) are zeros (sic)," that's crazy harsh and unfounded. These women have an appeal in what they say and do, which is why they have a following and were selected to promote the company. They'll take a trip, see a beautiful country, get a bunch of good material to write up, and you don't have to read it, so why so angry? In fact, something great might come of it -- maybe someone will be inspired by the experience to start an awesome foundation or whatever. Maybe nothing but some puff pieces will come it. The point is, I don't understand following blogs of people you passionately dislike. Can someone explain it to me?
Gina - May 21st, 2014 at 11:11 AM
If you read Kelly Hampton's blog, then surely you read all the (now deleted) comments asking Noonday to be forthcoming about the profit these women actually SEE! "We give you a microloan which you must pay back before you begin making any money"-sounds a lot like Indentured Servitude and "you will make products that we design for low wages" sounds a lot like slave labor. If Noonday has nothing to hide, why not answer these questions and NOT delete them, which only makes things look even more suspicious!

I'm not angry, just curious. Anyone wanna bet how long it will take this group of white upperclass American women to come back and ask everyone and their brother to give them money so they can adopt aka "rescue" some poor child from the horror of Rwanda. "Rescue" all you want but stop asking everyone else to pay for it!!
Amanda R - May 21st, 2014 at 11:02 PM
The heart of Noonday is to help impoverished people climb out of poverty by empowering them to use a craft/skill they already had...or help teach them a new one. There is so much more to poverty than just material resources...there is a poverty of being, poverty of community and so forth. The artisans Noonday partners with experience much deeper levels of poverty than just handing them money would resolve. The relationship Noonday builds brings dignity and helps to encourage an impoverished person that they matter, they can do more for themselves and their families. The microloans are important because it shows that Noonday believes in them and wants to support them as they strive to succeed. The reason this is a loan and not a hand out has a psychological component...it encourages that person to take ownership of the experience, really put forth their best effort. The wages each artisan group receives is determined by a number of factors...material, labor, skill and cost of living in each community. Noonday desires to see people's lives changed through entrepreneurship...as a long-term relationship is desired, Noonday works with each group to agree upon the best purchase price. Lives have been drastically changed by artisans partnering with Noonday.

I suggest you read When Helping Hurts...this is an excellent model (one Noonday agrees with) for effectively helping to alleviate poverty.

Noonday's hope for this Rwanda trip is to take the stories of the Rwandan artisans (by their full permission) to people in America. Not as exploitation but as an honor, as a means of showing respect and dignity that their stories matter...that they matter. Bottom line is that people are motivated to cause change when they are connected with the heart of someone's story. These bloggers going on the trip have followers...and hopefully they will be challenged and encouraged by the Rwanda trip...to create change in their own community, country and across the world.

By the way...I also do not agree with the concept of people looking to adopt as a means of "rescuing" children (certainly many children are living in dire circumstances and truly do need to be removed from them...what I mean by "rescue" is that it does no good to walk into adoption with a "god-complex.") There is great heartache for a child who has to be taken away from his country...even by good means of adoption. A wise adoptive family recognizes the delicate and crucial role they will play in providing a good, loving home for an adopted child while humbly bringing healing as that child wrestles with his identity while away from his home country. There is heartache and beauty in adoption.
Gina - May 22nd, 2014 at 9:49 AM
If all of the above is true about Noonday, then why are they not forthcoming with the facts and figures? I appreciate your response but you didn't answer with anything I couldn't have found by reading their website.

Why not keep the rich, white women home and send all that money to these ladies??? Don't need a fancy "model" for that!
Jean - May 27th, 2014 at 4:46 PM
Better yet, why isn't Jen Hatmaker addressing any of these concerns? I have been a loyal reader because her books have spoken to me. This fiasco of Noonday and it's silly mission and a "storytelling" tour, I find to be gross. What happened to the mentality of Seven and mindful spending? Noonday's items are grossly overpriced no matter who they might be providing income for. Was that also just marketing?
Nicole - May 31st, 2014 at 7:28 AM
Hi Jen- I know you and the other panelists are making your final decisions about the Top 3 this weekend. Meredith Mayo's friends and family have created this Facebook group (Advocates for Mere) to attempt to capture the some of the MANY reasons Meredith would be an amazing addition to the group going to Rwanda. I hope you check it out: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1419648674980920/

And safe travels to Rwanda!!
CanIBeFrank - June 3rd, 2014 at 4:28 PM
Disappointed in the top 3, I will admit. I was hoping for someone who could diversity to the group (not necessarily racially, but with a different perspective than yet another mommy blogger.) I'm not against this promotional idea of Noonday's but the whole implementation, not answering questions people have posed of them, and then final three (of which one had worked for IJM!) leaves me less than impressed.
Richard - July 11th, 2014 at 2:11 PM
Jen, I am deb's dad going to Rwanda 11 July with Delta
Lori Smith - August 22nd, 2014 at 9:05 AM
I jumped on the Noonday bandwagon, went to a show, purchased a ridiculous amount of jewelry. -Rationalized it as, "well, it's ok to spend this much on overpriced jewelry because I'm helping women! Right?!" But it started bothering me when I realized the "ambassador" wasn't a volunteer, as I had assumed. I think Noonday is a business wrapping themselves in a "charity" persona. I'm really turned off by this whole "Connect" trip, also. So, is it correct that the "team" that went to Rwanda was all expenses paid trip? Then, it simply sounds like a PR trip to me, again, wrapped in the guise of charity. It's making me a little sick to my stomach. I'm signing my name because I accept ownership of my comments.
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