Rather than months or even years of market analysis by suit-wearing entrepreneurs, civic-minded jewelry brand Falling Whistles wasn't born of one single idealist's vision, his hope of shedding light on the harrowing and oftentimes forceful enlistment of child soldiers in the war still ravaging the Democratic Republic of the Congo. When he first traveled to the Congo region, Falling Whistles founder Sean Carasso wasn't fulfilling the role of war correspondent, down-in-the-trenches philanthropist, budding diplomat, NGO coordinator, or medical care expert. He was simply there to support the labors of his friend, who had just founded TOMS Shoes, a company built on a "One for One" model whereby, for every pair of shoes sold, another pair of shoes is donated to a child in a Third World country. A show of support for his buddy, however, turned into an eye-opening experience, a life-changing moment that would force him to redefine his goals in life.
It all started when Carasso met five young boys, all under the age of 15, who had escaped two of the rebel armies only to wind up imprisoned in a military encampment, treated as enemies of the regime, knowing their future would probably involve even more fighting — but, this time, for the National Army. As Carasso spoke to the young boys, he learned that most of them had been kidnapped from their homes, separate from their families, beaten, tortured, forced to handle weapons, and thrust into the ranks of rebel armies. They recounted stories of countless other child soldiers, many of whom were placed on the front lines (quite literally), armed with nothing but whistles, which they were asked to blow if they spotted enemy combatants in order to warn the soldiers trailing behind them. These children essentially served as human shields, their unarmed bodies completely vulnerable to oncoming barrages of bullets, their lives at constant risk.
Horrified by what he'd seen and heard, Carasso made it his mission to involve the United Nations and Unicef and, with their help, free the five boys locked up in a cell for circumstances beyond their control. He discovered tons of bureaucratic are tape but, eventually, the boys were released.
But there was so much more that could be done to help all the other children like them, particularly those whistle-blowing boys forced into the front lines. The image of these child soldiers haunted Carasso well past his return to the US.
Then, something unexpected happened: a friend gifted him with a whistle. Every time Carasso wore the whistle around his neck, he was asked about its meaning, its symbolism. A light bulb went on inside his mind: What if he created his own whistle necklaces and use them to raise awareness about the war in Congo? Shortly thereafter, Falling Whistles was born.
Each Falling Whistles necklace educates people by simply jump-starting conversations. The premise behind these pieces, then, is that open and honest dialogue is the first step toward a peaceful Congo, toward finding plausible resolutions to the existing conflicts in the region and to brainstorming about ways to advocate for those affected by war.
Fashion stylist and creative consultant Jennifer Margolin is currently curating the Whistles for Peace in the Congo sale event at AHAlife.com, during which customers can buy five different types of necklaces, with each etched whistle pendant measuring 3 5/8" in height and hanging from a nickle-plated ball chain or a suede strip ($44 each at AHAlife.com). Shoppers can choose between: a gunmetal whistle on a nickel-plated ball chain, a black whistle on a nickel-plated ball chain, a bronze whistle on a black suede strand, a copper whistle on a black suede necklace, or a limited-edition brass whistle on a brown suede strand. All of the necklaces were manufactured in London using conflict-free materials sourced from Germany.
Join the movement and become a whistleblower for peace.