Friday, December 14th, 2018

16 Year Old War Survivor Transforms Bullets into Treasures

Published on March 25, 2009 by   ·   16 Comments Pin It

Talk about making lemonade out of lemons: Lovetta Conto, a 16-year-old war survivor who was one of two top finalists for the 2008 International Children’s Peace Prize, has set an ambitious new goal for herself: to raise enough money to help move a family of orphans from the refugee camp where she grew up to a new home – back in their own country of Liberia. “The camp is closing and I want to help give them a beautiful place to live and grow.” For Lovetta, it will be her first real home as well.

Rather than simply ask for donations alone, this charismatic and resourceful young entrepreneur plans to reach her goal in a very unique and inspirational way – through profits from an exquisite line of jewelry she’s created by transforming hundreds of spent bullet casings found on the streets of Liberia following the devastating civil war that deeply affected her early life.

Lovetta has set a goal to sell 1500 pieces of jewelry in order to help open the house in time to move the first group of six young people (a family of orphaned siblings) from the refugee camp where she once lived in Ghana.

Leaf pendant and bullet bead on solid sterling silver  16 Necklace  $125

Leaf pendant and bullet bead on solid sterling silver 16" Necklace $125

Lovetta’s drive and compassion were forged through heartbreaking personal experiences. Separated from her  mother and country at the age of four during the Liberian conflict, she  fled to Ghana with her father, where she lived for nine years with various families in refugee camps. She often went hungry or was sometimes beaten for trying to attend school without shoes or proper clothing. But her remarkable spirit persevered and she eventually found her way into working with a team of American volunteers to build a school for unaccompanied minors, and further distinguished herself by advocating for special education for sight-impaired children.

Her life took a radical turn three years ago when she was chosen to participate in Strongheart Fellowship – an innovative program  for gifted and talented youth from challenging circumstances across the globe – including those rescued from child slavery, teenagers once abducted by rebel armies, young people orphaned by AIDS, and young survivors of extreme poverty and war. The program focuses on entrepreneurship, leadership, and creative activism. Through that program, she was required to create a “for benefit” business, a project that would combine commerce and compassion – benefiting herself, her peers, and her community.

Lovely Lovetta

Taking her cue from her love of fashion, Lovetta took spent bullet casings left behind from the Liberian civil war and transformed them into exquisite pieces of jewelry, creating a line she named AKAWELLE. Each piece includes a small leaf pendant made from melted bullet casings with the word “LIFE” imprinted on it to remind the world that “even after something as terrible as war, good can come and new life can begin.”

Her jewelry is worn by supporters as diverse as actress Hilary Swank, actor/activist/musician Mos Def, and best-selling author & former child soldier Ishmael Beah – as well as young people in the refugee camp where Lovetta grew up.

Profits from Lovetta’s AKAWELLE jewelry line are being used toward the opening of Strongheart House, where Lovetta and the orphaned siblings will live, along with other young people from across the globe. The simple but lovely home will serve as a learning community and home for the young people in the Strongheart Fellowship program.

In November 2008, Lovetta was chosen as a finalist for the 2008 International Peace Prize, an initiative of the KidsRights Foundation with the support of the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates and presented by Desmond Tutu. The Prize is awarded annually to exceptional children who have demonstrated great courage or remarkable actions to help protect and improve the lives of children who face great risks or injustices.

In June 2008, Lovetta was featured as one of four young panelists at a Global Nomads Group event at the Aspen Institute’s  Ideas Festival in Aspen, CO. Entitled “Against All Odds: Profiles in Resiliency,” the event was sponsored by the Bezos Scholars Program and was moderated by Pulitzer Prize winner Anna Deavere Smith. It attracted a sold-out crowd that offered two standing ovations.   In October 2007, Lovetta was an honored speaker at the Texas Governor’s Women’s Conference where her speech received a standing ovation. In early 2009, Lovetta will be touring the United States to promote AKAWELLE – and   will be honored as a YOUNG HERO by Global Nomads Group, speaking via video link-up to young people across the world.

This young activist is an inspiration to us all.   Let’s support her magnificent spirit by purchasing one of these necklaces and spreading the word of her work by forwarding and reposting this blog.


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Readers Comments (16)

  1. What a remarkable way to turn something very ugly into something absolutely beautiful! Lovetta, you’re such an inspiration.

    GGA, thank you for bringing her story to us!

  2. Jasmin says:

    This is amazing. I’m going to order one. This is beautiful, and what an inspiring story.

  3. Amazing! Gorgeous. What an incredible young woman.

  4. Ali B says:

    Wow, I think I just found what I want as a gift to myself for graduating from grad school this may…

  5. themessenger says:

    Incredible!!! such strength and vision.

  6. I own and operate a jewelry business in Soho! I will put these pictures up on top of my cases so women can order this necklace…and besides, her jewelry rocks!

  7. kimsy says:

    That’s amazing! I’m going to send this to my friends, thanks!

  8. Chrissie Eden Vazquez says:

    What an amazing young woman. Her jewelry is def going on my MUST HAVE list.

  9. Awesome story. We interviewed her in I Heart Daily a couple of weeks ago, too:

  10. 2Serenity says:

    An inspirational story of an individual who knows creatively how to achieve a lifelong goal. I’m very impressed with her. Thank you for sharing.

    I am also thankful to Bassey lkpi for directing me to your blog via facebook!

  11. Melinda says:

    I loved learning about this young woman and her work. I had the opportunity to work with young Liberian refugees and was awed, humbled, moved by their remarkable strength, energy and capacity to forgive- they are truly role models to us all.

  12. Sojourner Truth says:

    Fierce. Talk about transmuting power. I’m sold if I can find out how to purchase in Europe.

  13. Cheya says:

    What a beautiful and amazing young woman! So inspirational.

  14. Monica says:

    This may be the coolest girl ever. She is a real role model to all girls (and women who still whine about what life gave them). Make lemonade with lemons is right!

  15. Sojourner Truth says:

    Zoe at the charity has been extremely helpful in arranging my order from Sweden. Don’t be afraid to spread the message across the world!

    Everytime I hear my bracelet jingle now, I am heartened. What a great way for me to spread a message of peace and strength.

  16. Candace Blessing Sayon says:

    Lovetta!!! Sweetheart, you brought tears to my eyes this morning after going through ur website.I m touched cuz i knw what it takes to be living in a refugee camp,i also knw what war can do.But am so pround of of you.Your bracelet carry a meassage thats every war victim will adored.”LIFE”.

    Candace.( LIBERIAN)

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