Among Equals was founded by Caroline Sherman in 2015 after she saw Bilum at the Pacific Trade and Invests annual show. The exhibition, titled 'Marketi Ples' showcased all of the traditional craft of the Pacific Region. Caroline was struck by their beauty and then of course started talking to Florence Jaukae and Ruth Choulai, both of whom have been working with Bilum for many years. That was just the beginning of this ongoing relationship.
In 2015 Caroline made her first trip to Papua New Guinea to meet the weavers and attend the annual Bilum Festival held in Goroka. Here she met other key ambassadors from different regions and started what is today a wonderful relationship with Barbra Pagasa from Mt. Hagen and
Lina Singu from the Sepik River.
Since its first inception, Among Equals has worked with communities across PNG, including but not limited to Goroka, Mt. Hagen, Telefomin and Madang. Through the trade of bilum we have also funded the construction of The Blue Haus, a safe shelter for the women to weave and produce Bilum bags.
“If you are buying a bilum through Among Equals, you are buying a bilum that has a very big downstream. It goes back to our village and our community. One bilum benefits 10-15 people. It’s not about charity, you are giving business to us.”
FLORENCE JAUKAE KAMEL
Among Equals works closely with a number of community leaders across the highlands of PNG. Pivotal to these sustained relationships are Florence Jaukae Kamel, who has become an Ambassador for Among Equals.
We have also developed a strong relationship with Caleb Jarvis, the Trade and Investment Commissioner to the Pacific Region and Pacific Trade Invest. This agency supports economic opportunities in the Pacific Islands by facilitating trade and attracting investment into the region.
“When there is money coming into their pockets they see it makes a difference, we can see it puts food on the table, nice decent clothes to wear and they can go to school with the money they earn. I am so proud because I can see the light coming at the end of the tunnel”.