You Can Help the Jewelers of West Africa

Two jewelers in West Africa looking over a metals textbook.

Awhile back I briefly mentioned an organization that helps out West African jewelers, the Toolbox Initiative. Today I wanted to give them a little more exposure.

The Toolbox Initiative is a volunteer effort created by jewelers Matthieu Cheminée and Tim McCreight in 2014 to assist jewelers with limited resources through the collective strength of the metalworking community and to create new connections worldwide. They collect donations of new or gently used tools and silver and deliver them directly to hardworking jewelers, primarily in West Africa.

Nothing goes to waste — here a broken flipflop becomes a polishing surface.

As hard as it feels to be a jeweler here in America, it is so much more difficult for these jewelers to be able to make a living and support themselves and their families. I’ve been privileged to see metalworkers from other parts of the world at the Folk Life Festival in DC, and it is always amazing to see the innovation these metalworkers use when having to create work-arounds in their studios due to the lack of tools or newer technologies. You can see even more of these innovations in Matthieu Cheminée’s book, Legacy: Jewelry Techniques of West Africa.

You can help out by donating new or gently used tools or silver scrap. More information can be found on the Toolbox Initiative website and you can follow Tim & Matthieu’s journeys to deliver the donations on their Facebook page.