Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the difference between Emerge Global and Emerge Lanka Foundation?
Emerge Global is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit in the United States, while Emerge Lanka Foundation is an established charitable organization in Sri Lanka. The two are closely related: Emerge Global serves as the main overseeing and visioning body, laying the foundation of its work abroad and supporting fundraising and sales for all Emerge programs. Emerge Lanka Foundation acts as the implementing partner of Emerge Global in Sri Lanka. Over time, Emerge Lanka Foundation has become increasingly financially independent of Emerge Global, both in terms of fundraising and sales. Our goal is that Emerge Lanka Foundation becomes completely sustainable from Sri Lanka.
Do you intend to put the "global" into Emerge Global?
Yes! Glad you asked. We aim to bring our model to other countries around the world. Interested in bringing Emerge programs to work with girls you know/serve? Email
Who are the girls of Emerge?
Emerge works with Sri Lankan girls, ages 10-18, who have survived sexual abuse, or who have been deemed highly at-risk to sexual abuse by the Sri Lankan government. All girls participating in Emerge programs are in the midst of court cases and have been separated from society. Emerge identifies program participants through existing shelters that serve the same population. All girls in the shelter are allowed to take part in Emerge programs.
Can the girls leave the home they live in?
Most of the girls Emerge works with are testifying in confidential court cases, sometimes against their own family members. Therefore, it is often not safe for girls to leave the homes in which they live until such trials are over. Sometimes girls are transferred to another home in Sri Lanka, or are placed back at home with a family member if the situation is safe. The decision of when or where the girls leave the home in which they currently live is made by the staff at the home, our partner organizations, and the Sri Lanka Department of Probation and Childcare Services and the courts.
How long are the girls in the program?
Emerge programs are designed to take 9 months, which is how long a typical court case takes. However, because every girl’s case and tenure at the shelter in which she lives is different, every girl is welcome to participate in Emerge programs for the duration of her time at the home. Some girls may be with us for just a few months, while others may be with us for years.
Do the girls of Emerge have children?
A number of our participants have children as a result of rape or incest. Since Emerge began, this number has ranged from 10-100% of the girls we serve at any given point in time.
Where does my money go when I buy an Emerge product?
50% of Emerge Global’s jewelry selling price goes directly into the designer’s savings account, which she may access at the age of 18. The remaining 50% covers the cost of materials and product distribution, so that Emerge Global can support the healing of more survivors. Because jewelry sales provide only partial support for our staff and operations, we rely upon individual donations to sustain our mission. Emerge Global does not profit from the sale of our jewelry.
Who designs the jewelry products?
Our initial designs were created by our Founder, Alia Whitney-Johnson, who began designing jewellery when she was 7-years-old. These designs were created to accommodate a spectrum of learning needs as well as our educational and therapeutic goals. For example, Alia wanted to ensure that every girl, regardless of ability level, was able to complete a product and feel a sense of pride in her work (some of the girls we work with have trouble with counting and pattern recognition so symmetry can be challenging). She also wanted to ensure that girls were challenged in an appropriate way and for an appropriate duration of time - nursing mothers often could only work for short periods of time while other girls wanted designs that they could work on for longer periods. Finally, she wanted to balance what would sell with each girl’s own sense of creativity. While you’ll find products meet certain specifications (e.g., length and style), the girls are free to pick their favorite beads and colors and create patterns in the way they like. Each piece is therefore unique.
Today, girls also contribute their own designs during the program. When we see a design that we think will sell well, we offer to purchase the design from the participant. She then works with us to make a new design sheet and train other girls.
We are looking for a designer to work with us on new products. If you are interested in supporting Emerge, please reach out to us at
Where do the beads come from?
Our beads are sourced from many locations. Some of the beads are purchased directly in Sri Lanka, while others are bought at wholesale prices through negotiations on the streets of Kuala Lumpur. Still others are purchased from wholesalers in China and India. We also receive a significant amount of donated beads that are incorporated into our designs..
Who makes the jewelry products?
All products sold by Emerge Global are made by program participants. Each unique item builds self-esteem and generates savings for the young woman who creates it. None of the pieces are made by Emerge staff or volunteers.