Gang violence and extreme poverty are nothing something too many of us have to live through in our daily lives. We may hear in the news of situations that make us sad, but it’s more of a passing thought than a depth of realizing that what others are experiencing, we are so far removed from ourselves. That’s not to say our hearts don’t ache with the burdens they carry, but being in North America, most of our needs are, though important, are not too often life threatening.
I realize there are many people in our country who are just struggling to make ends meet. And maybe it seems like buying from the companies we’re highlighting this month is frivolous, extreme, and completely impossible. But it’s not about spending money to help someone else. It’s about having our hearts and minds opened to the situations that are going on – some even in our own backyard. It’s about changing the way we think about spending money, and looking for ways to make those precious dollars we’ve earned and saved into a blessing.
That’s why companies that bring to light just what we are missing are so important. Individuals who have found the means and the way to serve, to make a lasting change in the lives of those we hear of, but don’t know how to help. They’re paving the way for us, the individual, the consumer, to be inspired, encouraged, and challenged – how can I make a difference?
How can God use me in the lives of others to bring about change? Am I willing to do what it takes?
God may not call you to take on an endeavour such as starting up a business benefitting and providing for those in need. God may not call you to the mission field or to serve in a large ministry. He may call you to simply pray. He may call you to simply speak. He may call you to simply bring a meal, or clothes, or offer childcare or transportation.
But whatever that twinge is that you feel in your heart when you hear about others in need, would you listen to it? Would you pray about it?
Bethany Tran, founder of The Root Collective, felt that twinge, when she went to the slum of La Limonada in Guatemala. She saw so much that needed to be fixed, so many people who needed help, but there was only one of her. For a few years she wrestled with it, wanting to change it for the people there, until she realized that she couldn’t fix it for them – but they could fix it for themselves.
The Root Collective was created as a way to partner with artisans to provide them wisdom, encouragement and connections – to invest in them and encourage their growth.
The artisans don’t work for TRC – they own their own businesses and are in control of the path of their own lives. They are capable, confident, and resourceful. They simply need someone to believe in them. That is where all of us come in.
I don’t know about you, but I LOVE hearing how lives have been impacted. Especially the adversity and trials some of these amazing individuals have overcome. Here are some of their stories:
Willy is part of the La Limonada ghetto of Guatemala City, Guatemala. His childhood was reminiscent of many childhoods in the area – left with feelings of worthlessness and abandonment. While his father was alive and present, he was unloving and uncaring towards his children, leaving Willy to be fed and clothed in secret by his aunt. He soon realized that supporting himself was as essential to his survival as bringing food to the table. In fact, it was the only way he would be able to continue such basic needs. He began crafting handbags to feed himself and his family. He looks to the future with promise, knowing it was God’s plan to see his business thrive. Willy dreams of seeing his own children grow to be outstanding members of their community, giving back as he has to others around him. He wants to see others in La Limonada learn a trade that will allow them to support themselves and transform the area.
MEET EMILY S
From Namanga, Kenya, Emily is the second born of nine children. This large family was a struggle for her parents to raise. Nevertheless, Emily had access to education up until grade 7. Her traditional Maasai village community taught her the art of bead working. The intricate, detailed process was difficult for Emily to learn, but she slowly became an expert, now being able to earn a living from selling her beautiful pieces. She dreams of seeing her work expand, creating a successful business with her jewelry. Like many women, her hopes are for her children and family. She plans for her venture to sustain her family and provide them the opportunities unavailable to her when she was young.
To Roberto, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Living in Peru, he first learned the art of woodworking helping his grandfather who worked at a wood depository. Each day as scraps were ready to be tossed in the trash, Roberto asked if he could take the wood along with him. At home, Roberto created beautiful pieces of wooden jewelry, a skill which his father had taught him. Day after day, Roberto managed school early in the morning and working with his grandfather when the school day was done, a common activity for many Peruvian youth, as tending to the family’s source of income is of utmost importance. Now an adult, Roberto’s hope is to expand and better his business and, if he should be blessed with children, to provide them with access to a better education.
Their work in action
Purple infinity scarf
Purple heart recycled wood necklace
Traditional backstrap loomed diamond clutch from Guatemala
When you make a purchase with The Root Collective, you have an opportunity to choose one of a few non-profit organizations for 10% give back. See, the money just keeps on giving! Not only are you supporting the work of artisans in their own businesses and provide jobs, those purchases are also being used to rescue girls from prostitution, develop schools and support economies, provide clean water, and so much more!
Check out TRC’s shop for more great products – get 10% off all products in your order using this link!
You should also definitely follow their blog for more awesome fair trade finds. You’ll also find encouragement and ideas for how to make lasting change. I’m absolutely thrilled to be a part of their blogging team and you can catch a bit more of my journey to a heart for fair trade fashion on The Root Collective blog today!