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6 Years Since Our First Bead

The word “serendipity” stems from serendip, an old name for Sri Lanka. In many ways, Emerge began through serendipity, through my ‘happy accident’ of pulling out bundles of beads in order to get to know 18 girls a bit better. I discovered the magical healing qualities of colorful glass and mixed textures as girls grew comfortable with themselves again and began to see possibilities in their futures. But Emerge’s evolution and growth has been far from a happy accident. It has grown with tremendous intent and dedication. It has evolved in response to our participants’ feedback and needs. Today, beads are only one tool in an entire toolbox of treasures. Today, Emerge is a school of life.

Each week, not only do the girls of Emerge partake in a Beads-to-Business workshop, but also a Life Skills workshop, added in 2010 to cover a comprehensive set of topics beyond business to help participants successfully operate in society. Through role-plays, games, speech competitions, journal exercises, peer-to-peer mentoring and more, girls learn about reproductive health, practice writing resumes and interviewing for jobs, learn how to plan a budget, discuss their ideal relationships, develop crisis management skills, and work as a group to identify and act upon community needs. The girls eagerly anticipate the monthly Mentorship program, where they are given the opportunity to bond with and learn from successful and inspirational local women.

When Emerge participants leave their shelters, they leave with leadership skills, business acumen, life skills, community engagement experience, close relationships with trusted adults, and enough savings to not only survive, but thrive. They leave with Emerge as their champion, ready to help them navigate the world, find a job, locate additional resources, and engage them in our alumni network.

Visitors to our workshops tell us that they “get goosebumps” as they watch our passionate and talented staff in action. I’m proud to say that one of our core staff is a former participant. But she’s not the only alumna engaged in our work — We continue to develop our Peer Educator program, which enables former participants to return to Emerge and work as a professional while impacting the lives of current girls in our programs.

In the new year, we plan to expand our programs to an additional shelter. We hope you will join us in bringing our comprehensive curriculum to many more girls. With your help, we can continue to support these young women as they heal, teach them how to stand on their own, and watch as they emerge into the leaders who will change Sri Lanka.

That first day of serendipity was magical. Today, Emerge’s holistic approach is powerful. Thank you for helping us develop a classroom for life for Sri Lanka’s most resilient and inspiring young women. We hope you’ll renew your support today.

With tremendous gratitude,

Alia Whitney-Johnson Founder & Executive Director


There are 2 ways to make a contribution: (1) Mail us a check payable to “Emerge Global”: Emerge Global P.O. Box 390897 Cambridge, MA 02139 (This is our preferred method.)

(2) Donate online here via


Every contribution, no matter what size, makes a difference. $10 can provide two girls with our “Beads-to-Business” workbook, which guides them through the process of planning their own businesses, ultimately unrelated to jewelry.

$20 can provide the girls with an inspirational outside life skills speaker to teach them about money management, maintaining healthy relationships, job searching, or other critical skills.

$60 can support a former participant in serving as a Peer Educator for 8 workshops, where she can provide additional support to our current participants and relay her own personal journey of transitioning from the home.

$300 can sponsor a girl for the year, providing the approximate cost of running the program for one participant. We still have many girls without sponsors. Instructions are available here.

$500 can pay for a month’s supply of beading materials for a home of 20 girls, helping to generate $1900 in savings.

$1,000 can sponsor our annual reunion, enabling former participants to stay connected with one another and the Emerge team, understand the resources that Emerge can offer as they grow in their adult lives, provide insight and feedback on how our work can be improved, and develop new skills.

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