Fair Trade Friday: Be a Part of Someone’s Story

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I think we all feel a kind of innate need to make a difference in the world. Most of us desire to have a positive impact – to make our little corner of the world a better place for having lived in it. It can be difficult, though, to know how to do that. We feel small, insignificant. We may feel that anything we could do would just be a small drop in a really big bucket.

However, when we combine our efforts, even small acts can have a huge impact.

That’s been my experience with Mercy House Kenya and Fair Trade Friday. I know you’ve probably heard me talk about both before, but I’m happy to refresh your memory.

Mercy House Kenya

Mercy House Kenya is a maternity home in Kenya whose purpose is rescuing the most vulnerable pregnant girls in the country – young girls who have become pregnant through horrific circumstances.

Many of them are orphans or homeless and have been abused, raped, or forced into prostitution to support their families. Mercy House Kenya, now operating two maternity homes, brings the girls in and provides a safe, healthy environment where the girls are provided with medical and prenatal care, education, job skills, and discipleship.

The goal is to reintegrate the girls safely into their community after they have graduated from Mercy House. Mercy House also provides community outreach to help other young, single mothers through job skills training, education, and discipleship. You can visit their website to learn more about the vision of Mercy House. You might also want to read this inspiring story about how one Mercy House graduate is giving back to her community.

Pauline

I began contributing to Mercy House as soon after its inception as I was able. First, I was only able to give $10 per month – but every dollar helps! There is also a one-time donation option.

Last August, Fair Trade Friday, a ministry of Mercy House Kenya, was launched. I tried to sign up as soon I read the news, but I was a few days behind in my blog reading and the first month or two were already sold out! I got on a waiting list, though and was soon part of what must surely be one of the best monthly subscription services available. (I may be biased.)

Fair Trade Friday

Fair Trade Friday is a monthly subscription service in which members receive a monthly shipment of gorgeous, handmade, fairly traded items. What does that mean? It means that the artisans were paid a fair price for their goods and are employed in fair working conditions.

These are some of the products from my June box:

Fair Trade Friday Collage

I received a reusable produce bag from Caring for Korah, handmade pottery earrings from Back to Africa, a gorgeous paper bead bracelet from Embracing Hope, a handmade paper journal from Village Artisan, and a handmade Father’s Day card (not pictured) from the Refugee Project.

The most exciting part of being involved in Fair Trade Friday is that my box employs approximately 7 women each month. I get a box of beautiful, unique, handmade items and these ladies – the artisans – get to feed their families and send their children to school.

Fair Trade Friday Artisans 2

photo credit Fair Trade Friday

Do you think that one little box of goodies can’t have an impact? Check out these stats:

FTF Change the World

photo credit Fair Trade Friday

The following quote is just one example of how these boxes impact the lives of the artisans:

“Probably one of the most profound moments for me was in a mud home in Kenya talking with a woman we were buying paper bead bracelets from for a Fair Trade Friday box. She grabbed my hands and squeezed them tight. She looked me straight in the eyes and said,‘Tell the women in America that we need them to keep buying what we make. Tell them it is feeding my son and two daughters. Tell them not to forget us.’ I will spend the rest of my life reminding these marginalized women they are not forgotten.” – Kristen Welch, MercyHouse Co-Founder

Fair Trade Friday Artisans 5

photo credit Fair Trade Friday

Last month, I received a Fair Trade Friday one-time box so that I could share more photos of the products with you.

Fair Trade Friday Products

Included in my one-time box was a gorgeous necklace and a handmade paper journal from Village Artisan; a beautiful, hand-woven zipper wallet from Joyn, also in India; and a prayer bracelet from Mercy House.

What I love about each of the products – the ones I got in the one-time box and those I get each month – is being a part of the artisan’s story. See, I’m not purchasing products made by a nameless face in some far-off country; I’m helping real women whose names are often listed on the products, so I can pray for them personally. Like this:

Fair Trade Products
Each Fair Trade Friday product comes with a tag indicating where the artisan lives and sometimes listing her by name. Even if her name is not listed, I can pray this prayer as I wear the product her hands have made:

the artisan prayer

Being a part of someone’s story is a powerful thing. Just last week, another member of the Fair Trade Friday blogging team asked if the coin purse she received in a recent box was one of the same coin purses mentioned in a story that had been shared. I hadn’t yet had time to read all the stories, so I’d missed that one. I went back to read it:

“The women of Clothed in Hope, all vulnerable women who have completed or are currently walking through our skills-training program, are so very grateful for our partnership with Fair Trade Friday/Mercy House. The first time I told them about our big order for coin purses to reach the homes of over 500 women across America, over 60 women cheered, screamed, danced, rejoiced. Because to them it’s not just some extra money in their pockets to feed their kids or pay school fees. It’s empowerment, it’s someone who says ‘I believe in you. I am with you.’

It gives the message to these ladies, overlooked and oppressed by society, that they are worthy. That they have something beautiful to offer the world, a skill and a story that can inspire women thousands of miles away. Each product made for Fair Trade Friday boxes, from coin purses to earrings, is a way for women to rejoice in their story of hope and redemption that they’ve written as a part of our sewing and business training program in Lusaka, Zambia.

Maureen

photo credit Fair Trade Friday

Maureen…pictured with [her baby] Regina on her back, is the brains behind much of our jewelry line, specifically a beautiful earring design headed out to women as part of the Earring of the Month Club. Maureen graduated our life-skills training program in September 2014 after completing a 12-month sewing and business curriculum with her daughter Regina on her back. Maureen is showing her children that work is good, and that no obstacle is big enough to keep her from pursuing her dreams for her family.”

Y’all, I’ve got a stash of Fair Trade Friday products in my closet. These are things that I probably won’t use or wear myself, so I save them to give as gifts. (Each Fair Trade Friday box comes with gift tags so that the recipients of the items you choose to give as gifts know the story behind the products.) As soon as I read that story, I went and dug through my stash until I found the change purse.

Fair Trade Friday Club

I travel as light as possible, so I don’t carry a purse to drop a change purse down into. However, once I read that story, I just had to keep that coin purse. Maureen may not have made it, but I’ll think about her every time I scrounge together some change for $1 scoop ice cream night – or a $6 car wash. {ahem} Yeah, the attendant may or may not have come out to see if I needed any help since it was taking so long to feed all my quarters into the slot.

Fair Trade Friday Artisans

photo credit Fair Trade Friday

It may not seem like a big deal on the surface, but Fair Trade Friday is changing lives…and you can be a part of it. In addition to the monthly subscription boxes, there are one-time boxes and specialty boxes, such as kids boxes and home boxes, and the Earring of the Month Club. Check the Fair Trade Friday store for more details.

Fair Trade Friday Club - Change the world. Look good doing it.

photo credit Fair Trade Friday

And, no, it’s not just jewelry and purses. I’ve gotten items such as:

  • Lip balm (Loved it so much, I ordered a case.)
  • Handmade soap (Loved it so much, I ordered more.)
  • Coffee and tea
  • Dishcloths (I’m stalking The Refugee Project store, waiting to buy more.)
  • A keychain wristlet
  • Reusable bags (Love!)

Fair Trade soap

The additional soaps I ordered for myself

I know there is a constant stream of noise in the world – people wanting you to buy this or support that. I’m not trying to sell you anything. I just truly believe in both Mercy House Kenya and Fair Trade Friday. I love that all of this grew from two women who said yes to God. I think they originally expected that they’d be doing good to help the 8 original girls who were rescued and brought into Rehema (Swahili for “Mercy”) House.

Now, there are two maternity homes, a community outreach program, and Fair Trade Friday – a ministry that is empowering one thousand women in 18 countries. If you want to be a part of making a difference, I encourage you to consider becoming a part of Fair Trade Friday, either by getting on the waiting list (it’s not usually a long wait) for the original box subscription, by ordering a one-time box, or by joining the Earring of the Month Club.

Fair Trade Friday Earring of the Month Club

photo credit Fair Trade Friday

Other ways to help include:

When we join together, we can make a difference.

I received a one-time box as part of the Fair Trade Friday Blogging Team in exchange for telling you about this service, but I would have told you for nothing and shared pictures based on the boxes that I buy myself each month. I just thought the FCC might need you to know.

This post is linked to the Hip Homeschool Hop.

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8 Comments

  1. This is beautiful, Kris! I only learned about Fair Trade Friday this past February, and my heart was forever impacted. How precious to have been along for the entire journey of this ministry.
    You did a beautiful job of sharing. I’m honored to be alongside you in this effort!

  2. I can’t get over how beautiful and practical the items are that come in the Fair Trade Friday box. I’ve been using my items non stop. How did I ever live without them. 🙂

  3. You have shared SO beautifully, Kris! I just love how you said that our small acts can have a huge impact. That’s it – exactly!

  4. I’ve seen your Fair Trade Fridays pictures on your blog and on your Instagram feed and wow, what beautiful items come in the boxes! I immediately started following Fair Trade Friday on Instagram and signed up for their monthly box (I’m anxiously awaiting to hear I get to join the club. 🙂 ). I’m excited to support these women, their mission and give their beautiful handmade items as gifts!!! Thanks for writing a post on them so I could learn more about them!!!

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