21/09/2016 12:24 PM AEST | Updated 23/09/2016 11:00 AM AEST

Nepal's Earthquake Rubble Is Fueling A Beautiful New Fundraiser

Red bricks remain strewn across Nepal but one Australian is turning them into jewellery.

Benny Jewell Photography
Each necklace tells a story of regeneration.

Sitting in the dirt in a small Nepalese community, Sunshine Coast woman Katie Johnston grabbed one of the many bricks still strewn from the 2015 earthquake and started chipping at it.

The locals watched suspiciously as she slowly whittled down a chunk of brick to a small, rounded bead.

This bead, she told them, can be turned into jewellery that will fund the community's rebuilding.

"They were so sceptical," Johnston said with a laugh.

"I couldn't speak language and they were looking at me like I was deluded, and I kind of am but I knew it could work.

Benny Jewell Photography
It wasn't until Katie sat down on the dirt and started making a bead for herself that the community paid attention.

"It took them seeing me sitting on the ground in the dirt and actually making a beautiful necklace for them to believe it could be good."

It's not the first time Johnston has dreamed up a project to enrich communities in need. In the same way that she sees a necklace in a pile of red bricks, her label Eco Bling takes scrap sinks, broom handles and other discarded items to create modern jewellery and accessories.

She's collaborated with Indigenous artists in Queensland whereby she makes beads and they paint them and was also touched by the plight of 'unwanted' Bangladeshi child brides.

"I met a woman who had moved to Australia from Bangladesh and was telling me about a group of women who were child brides. After being married off very young, these women were discarded by society. Some had endured rape and abuse in their marriage but now that their much older husbands had left them, they were considered tarnished.

Benny Jewell Photography
A sustainable glazier in Kathmandu finishes off the beads.

"It was really upsetting to hear their whole lives were ahead of them but they were told they had no worth. My own personal history of traumatic sexual abuse meant I saw parallels. I wanted to help."

The symbology of the rubble funding rebuild is really quite special – It's about taking something super traumatic and using it as a starting point to build hope and build opportunities.Katie Johnston

Currently, the women are making bags that EcoBling is sold in using scrap fabric discarded by the textile industry but Johnston said she was working with the group to expand their involvement.

Benny Jewell Photography
It's a source of income for the community.

Theses projects were in their infancy when the Nepal earthquake happened.

"As soon as I heard about the earthquake I was really distressed because I'd been there a few years earlier, and I knew the people were so humble and reserved. I knew they wouldn't be asking for much.

"Eco bling had just started around that time, and I felt super hopeless.

"My background was in charity and not-for-profit and I wanted to find a way to empower the community and help people more directly.

"My primary thing is upcycling and one day, it just clicked, there's so much rubble there, why not use that as material to make things?

The beads made form Nepal rubble will be sold under charity Shake-It-Up Nepal.

"The symbology of the rubble funding rebuild is really quite special. It's about taking something super traumatic and using it as a starting point to build hope and build opportunities."