#MandelaDay: Artisan Spotlight: Streetwires

Happy Mandela Day! Today the world has convened to celebrate the iconic revolutionary’s 95th birthday, as well as his 67 years as a leader, activist, and revolutionary. Nelson Mandela’s ceaseless fight for equality and justice not only impacted South Africa, but the entire world. After his 27-year imprisonment, Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s first black president. The years that followed were a testament to the fight that he refused to lose. South Africa’s apartheid policies had been abolished, and a country was reformed for the better. Even after his term as president, Mandela never stopped being a changemaker. He continued to be a voice for peace, inclusion, justice, and equality. Nelson Mandela is not just an icon, but a symbol of humanity’s greatest potential to resist that which is wrong, and fight for that which is righteous.

In honor of changemakers, we would like to put the spotlight on our South African artisan partner, Streetwires!

Image

Streetwires is a fair trade organization that works with Zulu wire art craftspeople, who mold recycled wire, beads, and tin cans into colorful toys, keychains, jewelry, and gifts. Established in 2000, it provides training, support, and raw materials to over 100 formerly unemployed men and women in Cape Town and rural Clanwilliam. Streetwires has expanded its reach, opening a center in Johannesburg in 2007 which was then turned over to entrepreneurial artisans. Its goal is to develop leaders who demonstrate to the community that it is possible to start a successful business despite challenging circumstances.

When Victoria Ntulini joined Streetwires, she was entirely unfamiliar with the craft process, explaining that tools such as pliers and cutters were mainly used by men in her culture; now, she is a loom-beading expert and in charge of materials distribution to the entire team of artisans.” (Source: globalgoodspartners.org)

Image

   We, at Global Goods Partners, are fortunate to have partners all over the world who are changing their communities for the better. Through the medium of artisanal works and handicrafts, organizations such a Streetwires are invoking hope into those that are despondent, and uplifting those that have been knocked down. So on this Mandela Day, give back to your community!

The Nelson Mandela Foundation is asking that you spend 67 minutes of your day giving back, and helping out! Any act of kindness is welcomed to commemorate the South African activist’s fight for freedom and equality. You can make a new friend, or volunteer at a soup kitchen! Check out the official website for 67 ways to give back! http://www.mandeladay.com/static/join

Also, check out our website to purchase the phenomenal goods featured in this post from Streetwires!

Artisan Spotlight: Gone Rural

Global Goods Partners works with amazing artisan groups who are all doing incredible things! We strive to partner with artisan organizations who are meeting a social need in their respective communities. Today, Gone Rural is in the spotlight!

Gone Rural is a Swaziland-based organization made up of over 700 rural women artisans in thirteen communities. In addition to empowering women and alleviating poverty through fair trade, Gone Rural runs a wide variety of programs to improve the lives of women and children in the region.

Image

Last week Gone Rural officially opened up their second community hall in Emdlangwe. The local community was involved in its construction every brick of the way. Literally! Guba—a Swazi NGO working to fight against poverty via sustainable human and ecological development—led a workshop teaching 68 women and 15 men the philosophies of eco building.

Afterwards, they put theory into practice and made 2,500 bricks out of local grass and loamy soil. Created from the earth, molded by the people, and baked by the sun, the bricks were made in a span of just 2 weeks. Now the community has a sturdy building, which involved every bit of Swaziland in the process!

Image

There are so many things that can be created from materials that would otherwise be discarded, or forgotten. Gone Rural constructed an entire building made out of the soil and grass beneath their feet! And we, at Global Goods Partners, feature amazing accessories made from recycled materials. Just take a look at our Recycled Tire Men’s Wallet, and our Recycled Net Weekend Bag (featured above). Sustainable initiatives such as these, are the key to keeping our world, and ourselves healthy and strong for many years to come!

You can find the sleek Recycled Tire Men’s Wallet & the stylish Recycled Net Weekend Bag on our website, where you will also find vibrant baskets made by the women artisans of Gone Rural!

Image

Trash to Treasure


Once considered trash, used rice bags are now turned into gorgeous treasures!  The Artisans’ Association of Cambodia crafts beautiful products such as wallets, totes, duffel bags, and cosmetic cases from recycled rice bags that were once destined for the landfill.  Each handcrafted product is super sturdy and displays a unique print.  The Artisans’ Association of Cambodia really makes an impact with its fair trade, environmentally friendly creations!

These rice bag accessories are not only good for the environment, but also provide a living wage for Cambodia’s artisans. The AAC provides jobs for the country’s most marginalized groups including trafficked women, landmine victims, polio sufferers, and severely impoverished families.  The revenue brought to communities through the AAC’s efforts have improved public health, education, literacy, and women’s rights.  Support The Artisans’ Association of Cambodia and the communities it helps today by purchasing one of these sustainable rice bag designs!

Shop for these and other great rice bag products from The Artisans’ Association of Cambodia at http://www.globalgoodspartners.org.

Behind the Scenes at GGP

GGP’s stuffed bunnies and llamas take a ride down the conveyor belt!

Here’s the Inside Scoop on How GPP Brings Fabulous Fair Trade Products to You:

We’ve just received tons of new fair trade accessories like jewelry and scarves from around the world.  Here’s an inside look at a recent photo shoot featuring some of our newest products:

Our model, Eva Vai, poses with one of our newest products– the Colorful Silk Striped Scarf from Cambodia and our gorgeous Bottle Top Tassel and Clay Earrings from Swaziland

Rachel Bee Porter, our wonderful photographer, shot more than 100 of GGP’s latest products

Striking a pose with our Neon and Silver Beaded Wrap Bracelet from Guatemala

Eva wears a Crochet Link Necklace from Columbia

The GGP Warehouse is gearing up and making room for lots of new products.  All of these gorgeous, handmade items are ready and waiting to be sent off to new homes!

A brand new shipment of bright Felt Flowers from Nepal

Shelves and shelves of accessories!

Beautiful hand-woven baskets from Swaziland

WEAVE Launches New Shop in Mae Sot

On March 25th, 2011, our partner WEAVE  re-launched their Fair Trade shop in Mae Sot on the Thai/Burmese border. Nancy Chuang, a Global Goods Partners volunteer designer who has been working with groups on the border for the past several months sent pictures of the ceremony. The shop looks great! We can’t wait to share the products that Nancy and Borderline, our other partner on the Thai/Burmese border, have been developing, so stay tuned for pictures later this spring.

Find WEAVE products online here >>

Manuela Ramos: Creating Jobs and Opportunity in Peru

Lucia Viviana is from Azangaro, Puno. She is the leader of Jerusalen, and organization that works in handicrafts and runs a popular restaurant that also allows members of the group alternate employment and enhanced nutrition.

Manuela Ramos provides human rights training to indigenous women artisans in the poorest areas of Peru, and markets the alpaca wool and cotton stuffed toys they knit by hand. The organization’s name, comparable to Jane Doe in the U.S., pays homage to the millions of women who anonymously and selflessly contribute to the development of their communities. The Manuela Ramos Casa de la Mujer Artesana program in the Puno region provides Quechua and Aymara women with opportunities to earn a living wage through fair trade production and acts as vehicle for economic development and women’s solidarity. Here’s what Manuela Ramos has to say about International Women’s Day:

March 8 is a day for commemoration and reflection.  It is a day to celebrate our multiple differences and capacities, our commitment to a dignified and free life for women. The road towards gender equality is long, and our perseverance to build a more just and democratic society does not wear out.”
Click here to learn more about Manuela Ramos and purchase their products >>

These artisans recently completed a workshop in Chucuito, Puno on Quality Standards for Knits for Export.

Making a Difference Through Felting in Nepal

Friends Handicrafts works with 125 women in Kathmandu, Nepal to create contemporary products using traditional felting techniques. Co-founders and Directors Shanti and Nirjala were asked to share their thoughts on International Women’s Day:

We (Shanti and Nirjala) did not get an opportunity to increase our learning to an extensive area; we both wish to spread knowledge and education basically to the future women of this community. An education brings enlighten, knowledge, and culture in the society which is so essential in the present condition of the country to even start to improve from the condition it is in now. So we would like to provide every child (especially deprived) of today and future, an opportunity to get educated so that they can contribute towards the betterment of the nation as a whole. To reach to this goal we plan to serve the under privileged groups first. Friends Handicrafts has been providing free education to two children of an employee (who sadly is no more), but we aim to provide education to all the children of our Friends Handicrafts family.

Shanti and Nirjala also asked two Friends Handicrafts employees to share their experiences, hopes and what working with Friends Handicrafts has meant to them:


Interview with Sharmila Lama

“I attended high school education but did not complete it. I have been associated with Friends Handicrafts for more than five years now. Before that I was unemployed. I used to stay at home and depend in my parents’ income. Now I am so accustomed to Friends Handicrafts working environment that I chose continue working here rather than to work in a co-operative organization that offered me a job. Now, I work as an in charge here. I am independent and can fulfill all my needs and also support my parents to accomplish household needs. I am contented with my achievement till date.

I respect all the buyers of Friends Handicrafts products. Because that contribution has uplifted not only my life but many of my colleagues who were in even worst conditions before. Also I request them to continue being loyal to the organization and also encourage others to be associated to Friends Handicrafts because this has been a help to a lot of hardworking women here in Nepal.

Thinking of the current situation of Nepalese women, I sincerely wish all of them gets working opportunity to be independent as I did.”

Interview with Nita Lama

“I used to work in other organization before but they paid me very less. Then I joined Friends Handicrafts and it’s almost been three years now. I like working here and I earn much more than before. Now I have a better living condition than past. It has helped me a lot and I will continue this work as long as I can.

I am very inspired by Shanti and Nirjala didi (sisters). Even they started from scratch. If they can accomplish so much so can I, and all the women here. We just need support and help from rest of you.”

Click here to learn more about Friends Handicrafts and purchase their products >>