our history

In 2006, Janine Maxwell, Co-Founder of Heart for Africa, started h.o.w? Jewelry. H.o.w? is an acronym for Helping Orphans and Widows. The question of “how can we make a difference in the lives of orphans and widows in distress in Africa?” was answered by this exciting project uniting women in America with women in Africa.

H.o.w? Inc., at that time a for-profit company, was designed to actively support African widows learning crafts to support themselves and to pay for their children’s or grandchildren’s food, clothing and education. By coming alongside these women and encouraging them, we help prevent them from prostituting themselves or their children to raise money for food, clothes and education.

H.o.w? home parties (now trunk shows) were designed to provide a guaranteed market for the crafts that the African women made. Those hosting a h.o.w? home party or trunk show can help contribute to the well-being of the widows and orphans in Kenya.

All African crafts are purchased at fair market value so that the women doing the work immediately receive funds. All profit from the sale of these goods in America goes back to specific projects in Africa such as building children’s homes, training, micro-finance loans and other projects directed at orphans and women in need.

Registered volunteers planning to join on a scheduled mission trip can receive 20% of their profits from trunk show jewelry sales to help reach their fundraising goal.

In 2011, Janine passed this company on to Raelenna Ferguson, a friend who had a passion for helping women and children both locally and across the world. A mother of four children, Raelenna had recently became a foster mother to a hearing impaired boy and sensed God was asking her to pass on the h.o.w? Jewelry company to devote more time to her growing family. She passed the company on to Michelle Outman and Teresa Birk.

Teresa and Michelle met in 2009 serving on the first Celebrate Hope event team in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. A friendship began through their passion to serve the least of these in Africa. Over the next three years, their friendship and commitment grew through their joint service in many organizations and projects, including Heart for Africa, Celebrate Hope, the El Roi baby home, Alzheimer’s Association, Living Water event, and Lutheran Family Children’s Services (Cape Girardeau).

Michelle assumed full ownership of h.o.w? Jewelry in 2012 and has transformed h.o.w? Jewelry to be the heart of a new non-profit organization reflecting a broader scope, h.o.w? Ministry.

Since then, Michelle has continued to lead teams to Kenya to support and nurture the h.o.w? Jewelry team, the Mully Children’s Family home, the Jacaranda Special School in Nairobi and other projects.

Read about h.o.w?’s earliest beginnings in Janine Maxwell’s memoirs:
It’s Not Okay With Me (2009) and Is It Okay With You? (2010).

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