Inspiring Gifts that Give Back

Courtesy Photos

June 8, 2023 Submitted By Mona Pohl

As spring moves into summer, graduations, showers, weddings, communions, confirmations, bar and bat mitzvahs, and school awards ceremonies take center stage. With this beautiful, celebratory time of year comes the conundrum of what to give as a meaningful, lasting gift to mark these milestones. With the trend toward sustainability and socially conscious gifting, the process can take a little more thought — which is a good thing.

The option for gifts that give back, don’t harm the environment, are useful and attractive are increasingly more accessible. We all can purchase items online, but there is something even more special when the gift is connected to a local, inspiring story about a place, a world away from here, that sets a literal example of how it takes a village to raise children.

Lisa Patterson, formerly of Hingham and now residing in Hull, recently spent time volunteering at the Rift Valley Children’s Village (RVCV) in Tanzania. RVCV provides legal guardianship to over 100 marginalized children. From birth through the time they can live independent lives, the children who live at RVCV are given a forever home that is a supportive, stable, loving environment. They are educated at partner schools within the community of Oldeani, provided with healthcare, receive college counseling and are prepared for adult life. RVCV is supported by the Tanzanian Children’s Fund (TCF), which partners with the local government to transform the level of education available to over 1,700 students at three partner schools. TCF also creates opportunities for women to gain skills-based training and economic opportunities, among other endeavors.

A mother of three grown children, Lisa found both incredible gratification working with the children and inspiration from the women who work in the Rift Valley Women’s Group (RVWG). The RVWG is part of an initiative that empowers community members to support themselves with funds, resources and training to start small businesses.

Lisa was so taken by the practical pieces, such as cosmetic bags, yoga mats and iPad cases made with beautiful, indigenous fabrics, she brought several back to sell here and then give the proceeds back to the RVWG. They are available for purchase at Designer Consigner in downtown Hingham on 95 South Street.

“For a few years, I heard stories about the amazing work being done and the life-changing experience at The Rift Valley Children’s Village from my friend in Hingham, long-time volunteer and Tanzanian Children’s Fund board member, Eugenie Murray-Brown,” said Lisa Patterson. “I finally had the time to take off from work and life here to travel with Eugenie and another seasoned, local volunteer, Julie Paltauf, and see RVCV for myself this past winter. It was incredible to learn how it’s truly possible to give a healthy, inspiring life and home to over one hundred children, who would not have any of the opportunities they now have — and are waiting for them — if it wasn’t for the commitment to nurturing the children and growing a vital organization. The Rift Valley Women’s Group also gives women and mothers the chance to make a living and strive to succeed for themselves and their families.”

Giving gifts made by women from a place that provides children with a home that literally saved their lives and sets them up for a stable, productive, fruitful life makes a significant financial difference for the people who created them, inspires the recipients and informs more people about the amazing work being done every time the story behind the gifts are told.

Items made by the RVWG can be purchased at Designer Consigner, which is open Tuesday to Saturday 10:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. To learn more about the Tanzanian Children’s Fund, The Rift Valley Children’s Village and The Rift Valley Women’s Group visit

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