Shared Trade would not exist without collaboration. The relationships we share with our partners are vital in order to give our partners’ employees amazing opportunities, as well as to create the best products for our customers. This week, we are excited to highlight a few of our partners by introducing a Tea Survival Kit that is now available at Thistle Farms.
This kit features tea from Ajiri Tea in Kenya, Moringa Madres in Mexico, Hope Tea in Uganda, and Thistle Farms.
The Tea Survival Kit provides employment for women in five locations across the globe, so your purchase of one kit will benefit women in five organizations.
First and foremost, our tea kit needs tea. This kit features four delicious blends that will warm you up on a cool, autumn morning.
Ajiri Tea is grown and harvested in Western Kenya at the Nyansiongo Tea Factory. The factory is a cooperative owned by small-scale farmers. They grow the tea independently and handpick the leaves, ensuring the highest quality tea. Ajiri gets its name from the Swahili word, meaning “to employ,” and its goal is to provide employment for women in western Kenya and to educate orphans in their communities.
The moringa in our Moringa Black Health Blend was harvested by 35 women in San Juan Cosala, Mexico.
The second tea is a Moringa Black Health Blend, a delicious blend of black tea, moringa, and lemongrass. The moringa is made by Moringa Madres, based in San Juan Cosala, Mexico. The moringa trees were planted and harvested by 35 women who are striving to provide for their families.
The black tea in this blend is made by Hope Tea in Uganda. The Tea Survival Kit has created an opportunity for women in Uganda to find employment.
The third featured tea is Thistle Stop Café’s Herbal Blend. Made of Milk Thistle, dandelion root and cardamom, this tasty blend of flavors is a natural tonic for liver health.
The fourth featured tea is an organic Gunpowder Green Blend. This delicious blend is made of green tea, orange peel and ginger root, and aids digestion.
When you purchase the Tea Survival Kit, your teas will come wrapped in a beautiful satchel that is perfect to take with you camping or on a quiet, morning walk.
New Visions Sewing Group created the satchel that houses the tea. New Visions is an enterprise of Lwala Community Alliance, an organization that provides girls and women in Kenya with education, healthcare and employment.
Finally, the Tea Survival Kit is assembled by the women at Thistle Farms. Thistle Farms, based in Nashville, TN, is a social enterprise of women in recovery from prostitution, trafficking and addiction. The tea will be sold for resale through Thistle Farms and served at the Thistle Stop Café.
Be sure to welcome the month of September and the upcoming fall season with a warm cup of tea. Our Tea Survival Kit is now available on Thistle Farm’s website and will also be sold at Shared Trade MarketPlace in October.
We all know that recycling is important, but this week’s featured partner takes repurposing to a new level. While one person might see old bottles and jars littering the streets of Ghana, the women who work for A Ban Against Neglect (ABAN), see materials to make gorgeous bags, wallets and jewelry. At ABAN, not only are used bottles and bags given a new purpose, but the women’s lives are renewed as well.
ABAN works in Accra, Ghana. Since the 1980’s, the country has represented success of growth and development in Africa. However, according to Rural Poverty Portal, farmers in rural areas are still struggling because of soil erosion and a loss in fertility in the ground.
ABAN provides women in Ghana with healthcare, education and a home.
Many younger men and women have left their villages to look for jobs in Ghana’s urban areas. Because of the migration, there is a high rate of unemployed young people in Ghana’s cities.
Rose, a graduate of ABAN’s program, was one of many unemployed women in Ghana. The young mother of a baby named Theo, she was found on the streets as a teenager and welcomed into the ABAN program. Now, she works for ABAN as a talented and successful seamstress.
ABAN mission is to provide a new beginning for extremely poor or homeless young mothers like Rose. For two years, ABAN offers women healthcare, education and a place to call home.
During the two years that women participate in the ABAN program, they take classes in reading, writing, math, business and childrearing techniques, and a vocational trade. By the end of two years, each woman has the vital skills she needs to support herself and her family.
In addition to taking classes, the women choose to learn the art of sewing or jewelry making. The craftswomen and tailors create all of ABAN’s products from melted bottles and jars that are found on the streets each day.
To make an ABAN bag, the first step is to collect water sachets for the lining. Local organizations and schools in Accra have partnered with ABAN to find and gather water bottles and jars on the streets of the city.
Next, each water sachet is hand-washed, sanitized twice, and dried before the seamstresses at ABAN’s facility sew the bags together.
The artists use a traditional method called Batik to decorate ABAN’s products. First, the artist stamps a white fabric with wax, and then she dips the fabric into brightly colored dyes. Once the fabric is dry, she boils the fabric to remove the wax.
Thistle Farms has been partnering with ABAN for the last few years. We are delighted to take this partnership deeper through Shared Trade. You’ll be able to check out more of ABAN’s products at the Nashville MarketPlace in October.
On Friday, we introduced you to MamAfrica, our Shared Trade partner in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Watch this video to learn more:
Here at Shared Trade, we work toward a mission that goes beyond selling quality products. We bring women together in a movement for economic freedom and empowerment.
Each Shared Trade partner is committed to this vision. In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Shared Trade partner MamAfrica has a word for it—umoja, the Swahili word for “unity.”
Despite the expulsion of the M23 rebel group in 2013, the DRC is far from seeing unity or peace in the country, according to Refugees International. The conflict in its eastern regions has lasted two decades, and the tensions between the DRC and its neighbors see no signs of subsiding.
Due to the ongoing conflict, nearly 500,000 Congolese have fled to neighboring countries, according to Refugees International. The struggle has also led to high levels of sexual violence in the country with few resources and support for survivors. MamAfrica’s mission is to bring hope to Africa by providing healing arts programs, education and economic opportunities for women in the DRC.
Women at MamAfrica are able to find stability and independence through the organization’s arts and education programs.
Another way to translate umoja is independence. Freedom and confidence inspire the craftswomen who create the products we will launch on our site in October.
Nabintu Charlotte is a craftswoman at MamAfrica who has found independence through her craft. Today, we want to share her story.
Nabintu actively values unity and equality. She accepts her strengths and abilities despite her daily hardships from being a widow and living with a chronic illness.
“Since being enrolled at MamAfrica, I have begun to feel like I truly am someone, like I have value,” Nabintu said. “Now even when I wake up and feel pain, I can push through because I have learned to accept myself.”
At MamAfrica’s Ushindi Center in Bukavu, “Mamas,” like Nabintu, are encouraged to reject vulnerabilities in favor of independence, community, and self-worth. One barrier that challenged Nabintu’s family was the struggle to provide an education for her children.
“With my income from MamAfrica I am able to pay my children’s school fees,” added Nabintu. “My children no longer face discrimination among their peers. When they go to school, they live life as if they were like any child with both parents still alive.”
MamAfrica uses umoja to describe both their mission and their products. This organization blends African style with American fashion through beautiful, handmade clothing and accessories. Whether you’re in the market for a stunning dress or a unique yoga bag, MamAfrica has that piece that will pull together your outfit.
As a craftswoman, like Nabintu, progresses in the mastery of a product, she graduates to a new skill level. Once she reaches the highest level, she has the opportunity to become an assistant sewing instructor. This inspires the women at MamAfrica to continue working hard and cultivating their talents.
When you shop for MamAfrica products through Shared Trade, you are helping women in the DRC experience economic freedom and be empowered to lead their communities. You are creating umoja.
This beautiful scarf, hand-made by the women at Mekong Blue, will be available on Shared Trade’s site in October!
Even if it’s not quite time to get out sweaters, we think you’ll fall in love with this silk scarf from Shared Trade partner Mekong Blue. Made by women in Cambodia, this scarf takes about two weeks to create from setting the loom to the final weave! With simple elegance, a Mekong Blue scarf can help dress up for a night out or dress down for a cozy evening in. The scarves will be available as soon as the weather turns in October!
Nuon Srey is a craftswoman at Mekong Blue. She is one of the hundreds of women who has benefited from working with the organization.
Although the scarves are not available until October, we’d still like to introduce you to the Cambodian craftswomen working for Mekong Blue. This is Nuon Sre, a Cambodian craftswoman who was orphaned at a young age.
“I’m from a poor family,” she said. “Our income was not enough to support a family. Sometimes we’d have enough to eat in the morning, but not enough for the evening meal.”
One day, she heard about Mekong Blue and her life changed. She began working and taking classes in reading, health, and job skills.
“I’m very happy to work here,” she said. “Before, I was illiterate. But at the center, I learned to read and write a little and also add and subtract. And I’ve learned so many new skills. I know how to mix colors, dye the silk, and lots more. Now I live independently, I can support myself and my youngerbrothers. I pay for their school, clothes, and food. And I can support myself as well.”
Nuon uses her attention to detail and artistic touch to produce a stunning product. As a craftswoman, Nuon is able to provide her family with better housing and an improved quality of life.
“Now I live independently,” she said. “Now I can support myself and my younger brothers. I pay for their school, clothes, and food. And I can support myself as well.”
Each scarf Nuon makes takes about two weeks from design to finished product. After carefully dying the silk, Nuon sets up the loom to create the various patterns on the silk cloth. Depending on the complexity of the pattern, it can take an entire week to set up the loom. Once the loom is ready, the weaving begins and a scarf is on the way. Nuon uses her attention to detail and artistic touch to produce a stunning product.
In the rural and isolated region of Stung Treng in Cambodia, women like Nuon Strey are particularly vulnerable. With limited education, women either marry or move to a city where prostitution is the only work available.
Together, Mekong Blue and the Stung Treng Women’s Development Center (SWDC) empower women toward economic freedom through a wide variety of programming that includes healthcare, literacy and health classes, vocational training in carpentry and building, as well as childcare and nutrition. The efforts of Mekong Blue and SWDC have helped over 500 women and their children.
But how do the scarves play a role in this incredible story? Well, the scarves sold by Mekong Blue, and soon available to you, provide job opportunities and marketable skills for rural Cambodian women and make the SWDC’s programming sustainable.
As you’ve probably figured out, these handcrafted scarves from Mekong Blue are more than just a fashion statement, they help women live freer and help heal a whole village.
Be sure to look out for more videos and blog posts on our site this week!
Anika, a Thistle Farmer working in shipping, just completed 2 years in the Magdalene community. She’ll be helping Shared Trade with shipping and receiving. Anika says, “Shared Trade for everybody!”