Monday, September 2, 2013

What Everyone Should Know About Labor Day

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.
U.S. Department of Labor 


Here's a little history:

The workers had to buy their own needles and thread from the proprietor. They were fined for being a few minutes late for work. Women carried their own foot treadle machines or were held in the shops until the entire shop had completed an immediate delivery order. Their pay was often shorted, but a protest might result in immediate dismissal.



Sometimes whole families worked from sun up to midnight. Pulmonary ailments were common due to dust accumulation on the floors and tables. Some shops had leaks or openings in the roofs, and workers worked in inclement weather.


The above was taken from Wikipedia “Labor history of the United States” section Early Unions
and begins with:
Women working under sweat shop conditions organized the first union in the early 19th century. According to the book American Labor, in 1834–1836 women worked 16–17 hours a day to earn $1.25 to $2.00 a week. A girl weaver in a non-union mill would receive $4.20 a week versus $12.00 for the same work in a union mill.



This was almost 200 years ago … here, in America.

Right now, in 2013, these conditions are still present for our brothers and sisters around the world with no such labor laws or unions.




This Labor Day, please by thankful for the work conditions we have here in America and please pray for those around the world who do not have safe working choices available. Continue to support Fair Trade and efforts that are happening that help to ensure the right of the worker and the right to be able to live a decent life.


“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Proverbs 31:8-9                                                           
                                                  SUPPORT FAIR TRADE

Monday, April 15, 2013

Way More Than Just Beautiful Sandals


Spring is in the air. Or as our friends at Sseko Designs like to say.... 



As we head into warmer weather we're reminded of last summer when we were able to visit one of our incredible partners, Sseko Designs in Uganda.


We’d been selling Sseko Sandals in our store and had always dreamed of getting to go there and meet the young women and see firsthand the incredible work they're doing in Uganda. 



These young women inspired us so much. They were so happy to have visitors and they were so encouraged to hear how much people in our country love their Ssekos.  

We told them what an inspiration they are and how you love learning about them and their lives. 
If you own a pair of Ssekos, if you are thinking about buying a pair, or you just want to be inspired, please take a few minutes to watch their story below. 
It's a story of hope, beauty, joy and strength.
It's a story of what happens when women are given a safe and dignified workplace. It's a story about what happens when against all odds a woman can pursue her wildest dreams.



Stop by our store anytime or click here to see the latest products from Sseko Designs 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sseko Sandals - Made in Uganda

There is definitely a special place in our hearts for the wonderful people of Uganda. We are so grateful that God crossed our paths with Richmond Wandera, a Compassion International student from Kampala, back in 2009 which eventually led to our travels and love for this East African nation.

Richmond Wandera with Tammy & Terry Marshall

When we recently stumbled upon the incredible work of Sseko Designs, we knew wanted to be involved in spreading their story and helping sustain work for the young women who make these very unique and beautiful sandals.

Photo from ssekodesigns.com

The idea for the sandals came while Sseko founder Liz Forkin Bohannon was doing volunteer work in Uganda for Cornerstone Leadership Academy, a boarding school focused on training and equipping African students coming from very poor backgrounds. 

Photo from ssekodesigns.com

The young women she fell in love with at Cornerstone needed work to be able to afford to go on to college and Liz was determined to find a way to help.

Photo from ssekodesigns.com

Falling back on an idea she had for "flip flops that wouldn't flop all the time", Liz created a sandal featuring a leather based sole with interchangeable fabric straps.

The young women who graduate Cornerstone are now able to work and earn money for their college tuition during the nine month period between high school and university.



The base sandals sell for $39.00 and you can choose from a variety of colorful straps priced from $10.00 to $13.00 each. Click here to browse the latest selections.

There are literally hundreds of ways to tie them and you can see dozens of step by step videos on YouTube:
 

To watch a brief video of the inspiring story of Sskeo sandals click here.

To shop the latest selections and be a part of helping the young women in Uganda click here.



Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Holiday Shopping That Gives Back

This holiday season as we start thinking about gifts and shopping and all that comes along with how we celebrate Christmas in America,  let's think about who benefits from our spending and how our shopping might help others.

If you really think about it, shopping is a form of giving...

Shopping involves our money.

Lets face it, money is important in our lives. It’s how we survive.

It’s also important in other people's lives. It's how they survive.

We think a lot about money. Do we have enough. How can we get more. Should we buy this or that...

But mostly our thinking about money is mostly about us.

To be honest, we hardly ever think about the other side of the equation.

How does our money affect others. Who made what we’re buying?


Who benefits from the money we are spending?

Freeset Bags offers employment to women trapped in the Kolkata, India sex trade.

You see, our money that is going out…is somebody else’s money coming in.

Our shopping and how we spend our money is going to benefit someone and we can choose who.

There is a new social conscious brewing as we are starting to realize that shopping is a form of giving.

How we spend our money and who we decide to spend it with is a form of giving.

Only it’s not charity....   It’s better!

God is Able Jewelry is an amazing group of women in Kampala, Uganda living HIV positive.

There's a whole system of business and trade that focuses on helping people who are living in unfair conditions all across our world. It's known as Fair Trade.

It's not a hand out... It's a hand up.

Doing business with people living in poverty provides them more than employment.

A few of the women from Global Mamas in Ghana, West Africa


It provides them with dignity and hope.

The people we have met are not looking for pity... They're looking for opportunity.

They're looking to be able to send their kids to school.

Some of the beautiful children we met at a Compassion International Project in Nairobi, Kenya


They're looking to be able to get access to clean water.

They're looking to be able to go to the the doctor if they are sick.

They're looking to have a better life that would include very basic needs that many of us take for granted.

As followers of Jesus, we have devoted our lives to giving some of the poorest of the poor a marketplace here in America for the beautiful handmade products they produce.

Many are living on less than $2 a day...
Many are women rescued from sex trafficking...
Many are HIV positive...
Many are living with handicaps and disabilities...

We have items for sale made by over 200 small artisan groups from over 42 different countries around our world.

This Holiday season, will you take a little time to learn about some of them? Click here.

Will you consider sharing some of their stories with others? Click on one of the share icons at the bottom of this post

Will you consider doing business with them? Click here to browse through some of the beautiful products they produce.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

We're All in This Together

This post was originally shared on our previous blog during the height of the drought in the Horn of Africa on August 9, 2011 

“The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems” – Mohandas Gandhi

“When a poor person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her. It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed.” – Mother Teresa

“Where you live should not decide whether you live or whether you die!” – Bono

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” – Martin Luther King

 

We can not speak enough and express to you enough just how important you and we are in the lives of one another.

Everyday the realities and horrors of the living conditions of our brothers and sisters around the world ALMOST paralyze me.




Please, please don’t ever think that any need does not concern you … it does. You, me, us … we are ALL needed and we are ALL ‘called’ to do something to help alleviate pain, suffering and injustice.

YOU can make a difference!



So many cry out to God and scream “How could You let this happen? Why aren’t You doing something about this?” He says, “I have done something about this … I created you. I need you to do something about this. And I will be right there with you.”

Educate yourself, share what you learn with everyone who will listen, write to someone and ask tough questions, support one or more of so many help groups that are on the ground directly touching these lives everyday, give money – lots and lots of money to these organizations you are passionate about. And do it joyfully … it’s not your money anyway!!! Most of all, pray. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Pray and thank God for the very breath you just took.

Here are some groups that we know and trust …

Compassion International
UNICEF
World Relief
World Vision

Friday, October 21, 2011

Who's That Girl

This post was originally shared on our previous blog June 7th, 2011

You may wonder… Who is that girl pictured on our Facebook page, Twitter, Brochures and Website?


She is a Compassion International sponsored child we met in Kenya in 2009 and her beautiful picture reminds us everyday, why we do what we do…

If it were not for Compassion International there would be no Come Together Trading…

As middle class American Christians living a very comfortable American lifestyle, we decided to get out of our comfort zone and travel to Africa with Compassion.

We visited many churches in both urban slums and rural villages…

We had the privilege of spending an entire day at her church, St. Luke’s Manyatta in Kisumu, Kenya…



Quoting directly from our Compassion trip guidebook:

“Common health problems in Manyatta include HIV/Aids, typhoid, malaria, cholera… Most adults in Manyatta work as market vendors and earn the equivalent of $28 per month…. This community needs employment opportunities, textbooks and affordable education.”

$28 per month? That’s less than a dollar a day. Less than $350 per year. How could anyone survive on this?

We were deeply troubled by the levels of poverty and lack of resources we saw in the many places we visited…

We were also deeply inspired by the levels of joy and faith that we saw in the people we met…

We met an amazing group of women that day at St. Luke’s Church.

All of them were living HIV positive…


They had a support group that met at the church and they also made items such as dresses, head wraps, and scarves that they would sell at their local market. Knowing there would be visitors that day, the women brought a whole assortment of goods to show us...


In about 30 minutes, our group bought everything they had…

We were told later that it would take weeks if not months at the local market to sell what we had purchased in about 30 minutes.

Seeing the look in their eyes and the appreciation they had for our purchases forever changed us….

We didn’t realize it at the time but we had just experienced a perfect example of Fair Trade.

We were deeply affected by all that we saw and learned during our time in Kenya. Everything we do now focuses on alleviating unfair conditions for people like we met in Kenya.

Fair Trade provides a way that we can “Come Together” and help each other by doing business together.

Although we don’t even know her name, we will never forget that little girl we met in Kisumu…




To us she represents millions of children and their families and communities who benefit daily from Fair Trade practices all across the world.