Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Simply Spring #12: Trades of Hope

Dear friends,

I had intended to write more about home decorating and organizing this week, specifically in the kitchen. However, as I began gathering my photos, I had a little change of heart. I'll save all of that for next week.

Instead, this week for my Simply Spring series, I'd like to share with you about Trades of Hope. We'll start with a little creative musing.

Imagine for a moment that you are a woman in a Third World country, living in utter poverty. You can't afford to feed your children, and you know that soon you will have to take them an orphanage. Education is out of the question. You don't have clean water, so your family is at risk for preventable water-borne diseases, some of them quite deadly. You may be trapped into the slavery of sex trafficking, or be a victim of domestic violence, or be HIV positive, or be at risk to other societal maladies. Violence is rampant. Natural disasters such as earthquakes often obliterate whatever shaky infrastructure already existed. Perhaps you live in Haiti, which has still not recovered from the devastating 2010 earthquake. Haiti has the highest infant and maternal mortality rate in the Western Hemisphere, and there are 500,000 orphans!  Let that sink in. Continue to imagine with me.

You are trapped into an endless cycle of despair.

You don't know where to turn.

You are without hope. And your children... What will become of your children?

Sure, if you're lucky there might be charitable organizations handing out temporary aid - food and clothes. But it's just that: temporary. You need sustainable income. You need to work. Your community's economy needs to be revitalized.

There is hope, and it comes in the form of a hand up, not a hand out.

One little piece of that hand up hope in ten countries around the globe (including the USA) is a faith-based Fair Trade company called Trades of Hope.

Trades of Hope assists artisans in setting up their own businesses which make fashion accessories and home decor from locally sourced raw or recycled materials. Trades of Hope imports these unique and lovely art pieces into the United States to a ready market of those who appreciate beauty and compassion. Artisans can earn three to six times as much for their families as they could otherwise. As the business grows and more artisans are hired, the whole community can begin to thrive. In the United States, Trades of Hope distributors - called Compassionate Entrepreneurs - can also earn income for their own families by sharing the artisans' products and stories at home parties, local events, or on-line.

One such artisan is Esther from Haiti. Here is her story:

"Esther has had a very hard life even though she is only 25. She was in an abusive relationship with her 5 year old daughter’s father. She stayed for a long time because it was all she knew, but unlike many Haitian women, she finally had the courage to leave. The artisan group she joined played a role in helping her leave this relationship and stand on her own two feet. She has a quiet strength and persistence and she brings that into her work as well. She started bringing ideas to this group and showing them her designs for new products. They were so impressed with her eye for design and her ability, and so they started collaborating with her for new products. She designed the Trades of Hope Esther bag. She is creative and smart and beautiful. She loves to cook and is also in charge of a cooking class where she is training others to cook. They hope to open a restaurant one day! She now lives in peace and pride and takes care of her little girl. Before coming to the program, Esther had gone to school, but could not find a job. She says she is thankful for the program because she is able to send her daughter to school and to put food on the table for her family!"

Trades of Hope also supports the Maternity Center in Port Au Prince, Haiti. There, women can find medical care and support, safe and sanitary conditions, education, and respect. 

Though I had briefly heard about Trades of Hope from an on-line friend, I didn't know much about it until I met Melissa at the Blueberry Festival in Mount Dora while I was at a ladies' retreat. I bought the lovely Haiti Signature bracelet, and was intrigued to hear that many of the beads in it are made from recycled cereal boxes!  

My other favorite piece is the Kala necklace from India. Black is such a versatile color, which might explain why I wear so much of it!  You can read more about the work of Trades of Hope in India.

Why am I writing to you about this?

I am now a Compassionate Entrepreneur with Trades of Hope. This is right in line with my 2015 goals of personal and professional development. Right now I'm still not able to do much, since I have a busy family and a lot of physical limitations. However, as Mother Teresa has said, we can "do small things with great love." So I'll do what I can with what I have. I still have much to learn!

Meanwhile, I'd like to invite you to explore the beautiful on-line Trades of Hope catalog. If you are reading this before June 8, 2015, here is the link to my current on-line party. If the party is already closed and you want to place an order, or if you would like to read or watch more of the story of Trades of Hope, here is my business link that is good any time: Virginia Knowles with Trades of Hope. You can also visit my Trades of Hope Facebook page for news and personal TOH updates from me!

If you're interested in hosting a Trades of Hope party in your home or on-line, or even become a Compassionate Entrepreneur, please contact me! I'd love to talk! 

Grace and peace,
Virginia Knowles

No comments:

Post a Comment