Monday, August 5, 2013

Trades of Hope - Empowering Women Out of Poverty

About a year ago I became a Compassion Entrepreneur for Trades of Hope. In case you've never heard of Trades of Hope, in a nutshell it is a fair trade organization that helps create sustainable business for artisans around the world; particularly in areas where women are devalued, unable to get an honorable job, or have been freed from slavery.  In honor of my one year "anniversary" I though it appropriate to talk about why I love this fair trade organization so much.
Trades of Hope's tag line is "Empowering Women out of Poverty."  It's nice, it's catchy, but what does that really mean. I'm going to use some pictures to explain the profound impact of those five little words.
This is my daughter, nearly 4, sporting the new turtle backpack from Trades of Hope, made in Guatemala. The bright colors are so fun, this picture doesn't do this lovely soft pack/friend justice! She can put quite a bit into that backpack, the shell is quite spacious!
This is "Jayanthi" who was one of the 27 million slaves world wide. That is until International Justice Mission (IJM) freed her and the other slaves who were working at a rock quarry and rice mill. (Picture from IJM's FB page.) This adorable little girl doesn't look much older than my daughter or nieces. And yet she grew up living and working in slavery. I'll just let that sink in a bit while you look at her stunning "I'm now free" smile.
This is "Yulisa" who was stripped of her innocence when she was 5 years old and left for dead. In her case her family actively sought justice with IJM, but in many other cases families are so poverty stricken that they sometimes sell their children to the sex trade or other form of slavery to survive.  Other children are stolen and are part of human trafficking. (Read my book review of "Terrify No More.") Living in a land of plenty, I cannot even begin to fathom what that might be like. And the fact that there are millions of slaves makes my eyes start to glaze over because of the sheer number. BUT that's not where the story ends. This is where hope begins.
Why am I telling you about "Jayanthi" and "Yulisa"? What do they have in common with my daughter. And what do they and IJM have to do with Trades of Hope?

I'm so glad you asked! See, girls like "Jayanthi" and "Yulisa" are NO different than my daughter. They didn't ask to be slaves, to have childhood stripped from them before they even experienced innocence, to be sold and used like property. When I see these girls, I see my daughter.  Each child is precious and a blessing. Life is precious. 

Organizations like IJM help free those who were slaves. But that's only part of it. What else is there for them? What prevents them from having to go back to slavery?  That's where organizations like Trades of Hope come in - teaching women a trade so they can become artisans and provide for their families. Not a handout, but skills to live. Making a difference to that one. Not only is the Trade useful but Hope is very powerful and contagious.

Products like the Guatemalan Turtle Backpack help little girls like this, so they don't have to live like many children in Guatemala do; being street children, or Living in the city dump.  Women of many walks of life: mothers, grandmothers, widows, single women, in the USA and around the world can have an honorable job and provide for themselves and their families. Meet our Trade of Hope artisans.
Please take time to check out all the beautiful, handmade, fair trade items available at Trades of Hope. New items are being added throughout the year. They are beautifully crafted and economically priced (all items are under $50!). You can bring hope to artisans all over the world by purchasing items, hosting a party, or becoming a fellow Compassion Entrepreneur. You can help create sustainable business that changes the course of lives when purchasing items you would purchase at a department store anyway! Pretty cool huh?

While my daughter sports the adorable and fun turtle backpack, another woman's daughter has the hope of a better life. That is why I love Trades of Hope, that is why I love being a Compassion Entrepreneur.

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