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Threads of hope livelihood project 0809

Page history last edited by ecop 13 years, 8 months ago
The Cotton Plant:
Threads of Hope
From Cotton to Bracelets to Saving lives



By: Rochelle Bakels



Description and Rationale


‘Threads of hope’ is a non-government organization. This mission helps those whose lives are at risk. The sales of the bracelets provide for 50 families. The success of this ministry has aided too many members of each of the fifty families that ‘Threads of Hope’ provides for. The women and young children help weave the bracelets; the sales of these bracelets also provide jobs for the grown boys and fathers. For the past 6 years, ‘Threads of Hope’ has grown tremendously and has blessed so many people; not just financially but also with the word of God. Thanks to this ministry, these families who have been walking without Christ in their lives, finally have found their way back.

The cotton plant grows in the Philippines and many other countries overseas, like India and Iran. It was imported through trading and through the production of cotton woven textiles that gradually migrated from different countries.

The biological aspect of this project is the material used to produce “Threads of Hope” bracelets. Locally produced cotton thread is used to weave these colored bracelets. Cotton was not originated in the Philippines. However, cotton has been an ongoing trade business internationally and is now a local item of production and trade.

What kind of effect does the cotton have on the local population of the Philippines? Where is the cotton specifically grown? How exactly is the cotton extracted? In what environment does the cotton grow best? How is its presence affecting the people’s livelihood that depends on the resources that perhaps come from the cotton?

There are many new ways of the use of cotton. In what ways are there solutions, through the use of cotton, to benefit the Filipinos? Through recent education, local families in Puerto Galera in the Philippines, show that cotton is being used to make thread which is then benefited to produce handmade bracelets. What are the reasons of the productions? How is this beneficial to those involved in this project? What are the disadvantages to this project?

The initial purpose of this project will be to research the biology of cotton that is primarily growing in the Philippines and how that may benefit the local Filipino people. This research is done through the use of literature and firsthand observations and interviews with people who help produce bracelets from the cotton found here in the Philippines. These initial findings will help guide me through out the research of the benefits and struggles of this project. I will visit Puerto Galera and meet the local people who are benefitting from this ministry. I want to know more about the local population, how they live and how ‘Threads of Hope’ has changed their lives. I want to understand what these people go through and how much of an aid this ministry has been for them.       

Merging my two passions together which are helping the less fortunate and fashion, I decided to do my project on “Threads of Hope”. This ministry is based on providing jobs for the local people surrounding Puerto Galera and selling their products in order to help the standards of living of those in need. My goal of this project is to find the different ways of how “Threads of Hope” is beneficial to the local Filipino’s, those who are “hungry, poor and abused”.  

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Common Names and Synonyms


Cotton plants are species known to be part of Gossypium. Gossypium is a genus of approximately 40 species of shrubs in the mallow family and the cotton plant sources of commercial cotton fabric are included in this genus. The Tagalog name for cotton is Bulak and cotton tree is Kapok.





Kingdom: Plant

Phylum: Angiosperms

Class: Eudicots (flowering plant)

(unranked): Rosids (Cla

de- monophyletic group of plants )

Order: Malvales – Mallow Family

Family: Malvaceae – Mallow Family

(Subfamily): Malvoideae

Tribe: Gossypieae[1]

Genus: Gossypium



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Morphology and

Physical Description



External Anatomy

The cotton plant itself consists of a soft fiber that grows in the shape, also known as a boll that is around the seeds of the cotton plant.



Internal Anatomy

The leaves are wide and lobed, and contain between 3 - 5 lobes. The seeds are contained in the boll. Each seed in the boll is surrounded by fibers. The fibers are eventually removed from the boll through the process called ginning. After the first ginning, the longer fibers called staples are twisted together and used to make yarn. Yarn is used to produce thread which is then the material used to make textiles. The second ginning, the shorter fibers called linters, are used to produce thread for lesser quality textiles.

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Getting Food



Good cultivation of cotton requires a long frost-free period; a good amount of sunshine and a fair amount of rainfall (between 600 – 1200 mm). The soil needs to be fairly heavy; however, the level of nutrients does not need to be excellent. Generally, the conditions cotton plants grow well in are met in areas which are seasonally dry tropics and subtropics n the Northern and Southern hemispheres. However, a large amount of the cotton that is grown today is cultivated in areas where there is less rainfall that get water from irrigation. The growing of a crop usually starts soon after harvesting prior to autumn. Successful planting time in the Northern Hemisphere is spring time. It varies from the beginning of February to the beginning of June.







The growth cycle of the various cotton species vary in length, but the sequence of fruit production remain the same.  Weather, insects and moisture can adversely affect optimum conditions for plant growth and it is the farmer's responsibility to adjust to these conditions to optimize yield.

Cotton shrubs can grow up to 3 meters tall. The general time in which the plants grow and produce is after planting (introducing seed to moist). With the right surroundings, the planted cotton seed will begin to grow or have the possibility to sprout and emerge within 5 – 10 days. After the first few leaves that emerge on the young cotton plant, they are seedling leaves, also known as cotyledons. The first two leaves are useful to absorbing sunlight into the plant. Between two to four weeks, they turn over to true leaves (leaves produced, following the cotyledons) which continue feeding the plants throughout the period of the plants life. The plant keeps growing and eventually adds on leaves and height. During roughly five to seven weeks, small flower buds called squares (a small flower bud covered with fringed leaf-like parts called bracts) appear on the plant. The square develops, the bud of the plant begins to swell and it starts to push through the bracts until it opens, forming a flower. Within days, the flower will pollinate itself. It changes color from a cream white or yellow to a pink/red. It will dry up and fall, exposing a small, green, undeveloped cotton boll. The bolls are considered a fruit because it contains seeds. The fibers inside the cotton boll develop and thicken, and end up the size of a small fig. The cotton fibers have developed with their main growth material, cellulose.

It takes roughly 140 days after planting or 45 days after bolls appear, for the cotton boll to begin to naturally split open along the bolls carples and dry out. This reveals the underlying of the cotton segments called locks. The importance of the carples is that once they dry out, they are known as bur, and it’s the bur that will hold the locks of cotton together so they are ready to be picked. 

The cotton plant needs to be in the right surroundings in order to grow properly. Places where cotton grows well are in countries like Australia, Africa, Arizona, Central America, Lower California, Brazil, Mexico and other tropical countries and islands like The Philippines.

Because cotton plants need at least 160 frost free days, that’s why they are grown between latitudes 45 degrees north and 30 degrees south.


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Origin and Distribution



Cotton plants are well grown not just in North and South America but also in tropical countries here in South East Asia. The Philippines is one of them.

The cotton plant has always been grown in the wild. The historical origin of distinct geographical origins of cultivated cotton is from Asia and pre-Columbian America. It has been revealed that the first cotton fabric is dated back to approximately as early as 3,200 BC, by fragments of cloth found at the Mohenjo-Daro archaeological site on the banks of the River Indus. There is also evidence that suggests that the trade in cotton started around Rome at the time of Alexander the Great, in the 4th century BC. The trade had developed after the discovery of the marine route passing by the Cape of Good Hope and the founding trading posts in India. Also, the Portuguese trading status had been challenged by other European countries, (France and England), since 1698. The Arab introduced the first manufacturing facilities into Spain, Venice and Milan. In England, the first cotton-spinning factory opened in 1641, making this the beginning of the cotton industry in Europe.




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Importance to People



Cotton is used internationally to make a great amount of textile products. Products include; highly absorbent bath towels and robes, denim to make blue jeans, chambray which is used in the manufacture of blue work shirts, and corduroy, seersucker, and cotton twill. Socks, underwear and most T-shirts are made from cotton. There are many things that we use on a daily basis that is produced out of cotton.

Even though many fabrics have been made out of cotton, some materials blend cotton with other fibers, such as; rayon and synthetic fibers such as polyester.

Also, the cotton seed that remains after the cotton is being used for other materials; it is used to produce cottonseed oil, which is actually used by humans like any other vegetable oil. This is used  

Here in the Philippines cotton is such a useful product in the sense that it provides jobs for those who are either in the area of have the access to the material that is getting produced. People make a living out of either collection the cotton or making things out of them. It could help prevent families from starving or young kids and adults to take on jobs that are worse then being in this industry.

In addition, Puerto Galera, one of the Islands in the Philippines, there is a community of women and children who have taken advantage of cotton thread and turned that into a way of being able to make money. They have colored thread and found a way to weave bracelets, anklets, necklaces and even book marks. There are many different designs that they make the woven bracelets out of and the great thing about this project is that they are able to sell them to the many tourists that come and visit. This is their way of keeping themselves busy and making good money. Good money in the sense that the local women and children do not have to sell themselves as prostitutes and adapt to such an environment in order to make money to survive. Through this simple textile local people in need are able to benefit from such a simple product.




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Survivability and Endangered Status



At this point the status of cotton plants being endangered is low. The cotton industry is such an international success that at this point there is such a small chance of it being endangered.

In the Philippines, the plantation of the cotton has decreased over the years, starting from 1990 through out 2006. As seen in the table, from the beginning of 1990 the planted areas of cotton was far greater then the areas planted around 2005/2006. The Philippines has one of the lowest percentages of cotton production. Today, the few leading countries for cotton production are China, the United States, India, Pakistan, Brazil and Turkey. 



Cotton Production Statistics, Philippines: (1990/1991 to 2005/2006.)



Crop Year

Area Planted (ha)

Yield/ha (MT/ha)

Seedcotton (MT/)

Cotton Lint (MT)

Industrial Seeds (MT)







































































































Ave. last 5 Year s








Even though the Philippines do not have the highest percentage of cotton production in the world, the suitable places for cotton productions are shown in the table. In Nueva Ecija, the climate and soil is the most suitable for good cotton production. Cebu and Palawan are the 2 provinces where the cotton production is the least successful.



Climate/Soil Suitable Areas

Cropping Pattern Suitable Areas

In hectares

Ilocos Norte



Ilocos Sur






La Union









Cagayan/Kalinga Apayao



Isabela/Nueva Viscaya






Nueva Ecija









Occidental Mindoro



Negros Occidental









South Cotabato/Sultan Kudarat









This industry provides jobs with in the actual retrieving of cotton to the production of textiles. This includes Threads of Hope; people have received jobs by making bracelets, anklets, and more in order to have a good paying job and to stay away from abuse, child sex trafficking and prostitution.



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Potential Solutions



‘Threads of Hope’ is a ministry based in the Philippines. The ministry is a livelihood project initiated by Alex and Chris Kuhlow, in March of 2003, to bring help and hope to families at risk in the Philippines.



Possibility 1 - Spreading the word at church



Another simple but accessible place to spread the word is at your local church(s). At most churches there are always people who are selling things like prayers books and rosaries; it would be an accessible place to be able to sell bracelets and interact with fellow church members who have not heard about Threads of Hope. By doing this, you have a bigger opportunity of creating a larger community that would be interes




ted in this project. The nice thing about church is that, one way or another; people will see each other on a weekly basis, whether it is for mass, choir practice or even a bible study. The fact that everyone at church is a follower and believer of Jesus Christ, they will be interest in helping; whether it is through purchasing bracelets or taking the initiative spread what they personally learnt about Threads of Hope.


1.   It is a very pleasant way of being able to interact with people who are fellow church members but who you generally do not really talk to. It’s an action of kindness and compassion as Christ like people.

2.   Since this would be done in a Christian setting, you will be able to get more Christians involved and give them the beginning steps towards helping them to encourage other through the words of Christ.

3.   Also, the advantage of this setting is that everyone around you is a follower of Christ. There is




a similar pattern of thinking; in order to expand the supporters of this ministry, it benefits to have people who have the same goal as you. This ministry is not just about being able to give funds to provide for families. It is always very much about how and where God has a place in all of this. We should help those who do not walk in the presence of God.




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Possibility 2 - Ministry field trip to Puerto Galera



At the Island of Puerto Galera, in the Philippines, there is a small community not far from the Tamaraw Bea




ch Resort, where local women and children live and make the woven bracelets. This community is relatively small but has enough people working on a daily basis to create different styles of bracelets in order to sell them later that day to make their share of money. On a regular basis, Mr. and Mrs. Kuhlow take a trip down to Puerto Galera to check on how the orders are coming along and perhaps providing the women and children with more thread to make more bracelets. A great way to get people more involved with this ministry is by getting people to visit Puerto Galera and meeting the people who depend on ‘Threads of Hope’. If there is a group of people that go on a ministry trip to Puerto Galera, meet the local people who are involved and being able to experience their life from their own perspective. It is and asset to being able to have first hand experience in something that, with your help, can change someone’s life. If the group of people were to return to their homes, they will have the knowledge and the sympathy to help the




m spread the word within their community and work towards getting a larger active community.
















    1.   By traveling and


    taking the effort to go visit the local people, it gives you a more clear perspective and opinion towards the people that are dependant on th


is ministry. You will have the benefit of having first hand experience on what this ministry is all about.

2.   Once having


made the trip; once returned to your home, you will have the most


insight and knowledge of being able to spread the word within your community. Whether you have visited Puerto Galera or not, you will still be able to inform people about ‘Threads of Hope’ but you can make a better impact if you can share your personal experience and thoughts about this ministry.


Action Step


                                                       I personally went to Puerto Galera to learn more about ‘Threads of Hope’ and to see the living conditions of the people who benefit from this ministry. I met Alona, the girl who inspired Mr.


and Mrs. Kuhlow to start this ministry. I was able to talk to her and learn about the life she had before she met the Kuhlow’s and how, thanks to their help, it has changed everything. Alona met Alex and Chris Kuhlow on the beach in 1998, when she was only around 12 years old. She was selling woven bracelets that she learnt how to make by a Swiss family that taught her when they were vacationing at Puerto Galera. At the time


, Alona worked under Rosemary; a lady who taught other young girls how to make these woven bracelets. She became so good at making these bracelets, she found 30 different designs she could use and is capable of making 10 pieces per hour.

‘How did it change your life?’ – When Alona finished grade 4 she had to quite school because her family didn’t have enough money for her to go to school anymore. Her parents are farmers and had 11 children to take care of. This is how she got to selling bracelets on the beach. Thanks so ‘Threads of Hope’, Alona was about to go back to gra


de 5 and 6 at the age of 24. She is not married and doesn’t have her own family but because she has a steady income, she was able to get her own house, take care of her siblings and cousins and is able to send herself back to school. She currently makes 1000 pesos a day, which is equivalent to US $25, through selling woven baskets, bracelets an even bracelet patterns for your hair.  

‘Through this work, how did this affect you spiritually?’ – Alona was born Catholic but she found Christ through the making of these bracelets. Since ‘Threads of Hope’, she started making these bracelets from her heart.




 Interacting with the Kuhlow’s and finding hope through them. She struggled so much when she was younger and she did have faith in God but it was really hard to stay strong in her faith. When she was younger she was the only one that made money out of her family and she was the only one that had to stop schooling. She was the one who was taking care of her cousins and was a parent towards her other sibling. However, through all of that, she was still teased by them just because she wasn’t going to school. But once she met the Kuhlow’s, she knew that it was meant to be and that there was hope for her and her family. That is how her faith was strengthened.

Alona is 26 years old and is currently starting her 2nd year in high school. She had a hard time in school just because she’s so much older then all the other students, she feels really left out. But she mentioned that, although life has been so hard for her, she was able to save enough money to buy her own house without being married or having her own family. She used to sell bracelets on the beach but has the liberty to work at home and just take orders from Mr. Kuhlow himself.

Alona is now the manager, she is in charge of managing all the orders and how many bracelets each person has to make. She gets paid separately compared to the other women.

‘Are you happy?’ – “yes, I have my own house, I take care of my brothers and sisters and I don’t have many struggles anymore”.

I am very happy I had first hand experience with the local men and women that all benefit from this ministry and are able to have a better life then they did before. The women and children have gotten away from the sex trafficking business and prostitution, all thanks to ‘Threads of Hope’.

I have a lot more respect for this ministry. I have become a lot more involved with ‘Threads of Hope’ all thanks to the trip I made to Puerto Galera. It is because of the trip that I am able to spread the word with my family and friends here in the Philippines and abroad.



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Possibility 3 - Spreading the word in the community



Sometimes the easiest and most accessible way of informing people is by spreading the word. There is a cheap and easy way of being able to spread the word of the Threads of Hope ministry and how to get involved. Designing a simple flyer with the basic information about the ministry printed on it, and attaching a gospel bracelet to it, is a simple yet educational way to expand and sustain this outreach. If one person informs and educates another person on this ministry and gives them a flyer with a bracelet to give to someone else, slowly through the word of mouth, this ministry can get more known by many people in different communities.




1.   By giving out these flyers with the bracelets, it is such a fast and easy way to spread the gospel. Becoming more aware of the reason for why the Kuhlow’s started this whole project. The way they were able to successfully keep this ministry going. Through these bracelets, people will be able to find their way through Christ, to help those whose lives are at risk. And somehow find that passion and will to help out through this ministry.

2.   Through this simple and easy way of promoting the ministry and educating people of other communities it can help broaden the supporters of this project. This ministry needs an on going group of supporters and promoters in order to help the people who need the money to keep on having a steady income.

3.   Lastly, by giving only a sample of what this whole ministry is about, it’ll give people something to think and talk about. Eventually, the more interested they get, the more involved they could become. Whether it will be through purchasing and selling of the bracelets or if it is through their spiritual walk and their interest to share it with others.

Action Step:

I made my own flyers that gave the basic information about the Gospel Bracelets. Together with each flyer, I provided 2 bracelets; 1 to keep for themselves and another they can give to someone else as spread the word. I brought a few flyers with me as I went out during the weekend, just incase I would meet someone; I would have a flyer and bracelets to give to them.


As I was in church on Sunday, I approached a Filipino doctor and his son that were sitting next to me. After mass I asked if I could give them a flyer with the gospel bracelets and just briefly explain what it is about. I told them ‘Threads of Hope’, and what their purpose was. I also explained what the purpose was of the gospel bracelets and what each of them can do with the spare bracelet. His son, Reegle, attend La Salle here in the Philippines; he got quite excited when I told him that on the website, he can customize his own bracelets and give them as ‘thank you’ gifts at his upcoming birthday party.   

As I was purchasing my items from The Body Shop, I asked the two sales ladies if I could give them a flyer with the gospel bracelets. At first they thought I was a bit strange but I took the time to explain myself and what the flyer was about. They were very interested in this ministry and seemed excited. It wasn’t anything they had heard of before and they thought it was a really nice concept.

I felt really good about what I learnt from ‘Threads of Hope’, and it made me feel really passionate and confident to be able to share the gospel with them. I personally really like this ministry, and find it such a creative ‘accident’, just how Alex Kuhlow puts it. I know that God worked in me and put it on my heart to help out with this ministry. If it wasn’t for this project, I probably would not have put in as much effort as I did to try and be active within this ministry. I am very thankful that God opened so many doors for me; now I know that he wanted me to become active in this ministry. He gave me the passion to help these families whose lives are at risk.






For every potential solution, there are no disadvantages. Within in every solution there are different aspects; if you are not satisfied with the bracelets or the sales of the bracelets, at least you can still be informed or have the ability to inform others through the gospel. If the word of God doesn’t speak to you, there is still a different way of helping out which is buy purchasing the bracelets or help sell them. There are absolutely no disadvantages to any of these solutions. There is something self fulfilling that you can gain from ‘Threads of Hope’.



Biblical Rationale

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In Romans 12:13 it says – “Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Practice hospitality.” It clearly states that we need to help those who are in need, those who are God’s people or who are desperately searching for God. It doesn’t matter whether they are Catholic, Protestant or any other denomination or belief; we should help those who are in need.

In Acts 20:35 it says – “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ “ Again, Jesus Christ himself tells us that we shouldn’t be greedy and just always accept things and never give anything in return. As God’s children, we should have the heart to give back to those who are in need. Give them hope, spread he word, help them to understand that God is there for each and every one of us, and that he will be there, always and forever. They just need guidance to lead them into the right direction to fin Him.

Proverbs 14:31 says – “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God”. This verse clearly states that as followers of Christ we should help those in need, just like Jesus did, in order to bring glory to God.



Ways to help out



1)   People who are interest in getting involved with ‘Threads of Hope’ can start by praying for Mr. and Mrs. Kuhlow and the families at risk. That God would continue to provide them with the necessary income to adequately care for their families. Even beyond that, that these families would recognize God’s provision, love and care for them through this ministry and be draw to Jesus Christ in a way that would completely transform their lives.

Another way to get involved is by telling others about ‘Threads of Hope’ or selling the bracelets on behalf of the families making them.

2)   People who are interested in helping with this ministry, but are located abroad, can still help out. Like mentioned above – anyone that wants to get involved can go to the website – www.threadsofhope.com.ph – and contact Mr. and Mrs. Kuhlow on how you can help sell bracelets from the location you are at. The prices will be adjusted accordingly; US $1 – Canadian $1, etc.



3)   Are there any visual aid’s that are available to be used to help spread the word?



There is a website, brochures, a public school DVD that focuses on the humanitarian aspect of what we do, and a Christian DVD that focuses on the spiritual aspect – all these things are available. It would be very helpful if students go involved creatively. In fact, the first brochure was made by a Faith Academy student. It is always nice to find more creative ways to help promote this ministry.



Faith Academy students can be involved in selling the bracelets when they go to their passport countries from the summer, furlough or when they graduate. It gives them an opportunity to stay more connected to the Philippines after they leave.


Informational e-mail



Dear Mr. Kuhlow,

My name is Rochelle Bakels, I am a 12th Grade student at Faith Academy in the Philippines. I am currently in the process of completing a Biology research project, Environmental Challenges Of the Philippines (ECOP), helping generate livelihood projects that don't damage the environment of the people.

 If there are any other thoughts or comments you have relating to this, but not specifically directed to the questions, please respond.

I am writing to you because I am very interested in your ministry and would like to ask a few questions regarding this:

 1How can others who are interested get involved in your ministry?

2 How can interest people who live in other countries get involved?

3 Do you have brochures, power points, a website or other ways to spread the news about your ministry?

      - would it be ok to make flyers with the basic information on it about Threads of Hope, share it with people who are not familiar with this ministry and give them 2 gospel bracelets each.1 for themselves and another to give to someone else, so that each person is able to share some part of the gospel with someone.

      - would it be possible to help out through making posters that help promote awareness of what Threads of Hope is about? helping out creatively.

      - How might students at Faith Academy become involved?

 4 Where did the name Threads of Hope originate from?

 5 What have been the greatest challenges for you?

I am very interested in your ministry, and I would really like to share the ways in how others can help out. Hopefully I could encourage those you are unaware through this project.

Thank you so much for helping me out by answering the questions and guiding me in the right direction about being more active and involved with Threads of Hope.

Yours Sincerely,

Rochelle Bakels






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