Archives for November 18, 2012

Connected in Hope {handwoven scarves} giveaway!

Today’s giveaway is from Connected in Hope.  It is truly a privilege to be sharing their story with you today.  I absolutely love them and know you will too.

Just barely out of her teens, Gete had already experienced much hardship.  Having been forced into an arranged marriage at the age of 9, Gete escaped her abusive husband and fled to Addis Ababa.  Having no way to support herself she began the burdensome work of collecting fuel wood, which she did daily for 15 years.

Gete’s work began long before the sun rose on Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She retrieved her walking stick and stepped quietly out of the door of her hut.  For the next several hours Gete collected fuel wood from the forest floor, always listening for the predatory sounds of hyenas.  By early morning, the branches she gathered and bundled together weighed nearly eighty pounds. Hoisting them to her back she began the long hike to the markets in the center of the city. Nervously she looked around hoping to avoid the guards that would demand bribes to allow her to pass. Gete knew that she would need all the birr that she was hoping to earn (worth less than $1) just to feed her children today. If she was fortunate, she would sell all the fuel wood and start her long trek home by late afternoon. And tomorrow, long before dawn, she would begin again.

Following the adoption of our precious son Joseph from Ethiopia in 2009, my family and I felt a compelling desire to give back to the beautiful, loving people of his birth country.  A subsequent visit to the country by my parents in 2010 brought us face-to-face with women like Gete, burdened with bundles of fuel wood. We learned about the enormous challenges they face every day in an effort to provide even the basics for their families. We met children forced to quit school and work when the complications of HIV/AIDS left their mothers too ill to support the family. The faces of the women fuel wood carriers and their children were imprinted on our hearts and left us forever changed – and committed!

During that trip they also met a group of former fuel wood carriers who had been taught to weave scarves; however, with a very limited market, they weren’t selling enough to be able to support their families. It was through interactions with these amazing women, that Connected in Hope Foundation was born.

Connected in Hope was founded to help these women build their weaving business so it could provide each of them with a sustainable, predictable, and Fair Trade income. The weavers are paid upfront for their beautiful, hand woven scarves.   The scarves are then brought to the international market through our website, retail stores and trunk shows.  Once the scarves are sold, 100% of the profit is re-invested in programs that benefit the women and their families. We take a holistic approach that goes beyond Fair Trade to include improved educational opportunities and increased access to basic medical care.

As one of the sixty women working with Connected in Hope, Gete’s life today is much different.  Instead of the back-breaking work of carrying fuel wood, Gete weaves on her own loom in the new building at our Kolfe site. She worries less about the future because her income has increased and is more predictable.  She is proud and happy knowing women throughout the world are wearing (and loving!) her beautiful scarves.

A story like Gete’s is woven into every scarf sold through Connected in Hope. By purchasing one of these scarves, the buyer not only has an opportunity to financially support the woman who made it, but also to connect with her on a personal level. Each scarf purchased bears a tag with the weaver’s name and comes with a card that allows the buyer or individual receiving the scarf to send the weaver a personal note. The notes are translated and shared with the weavers, validating their talent and their very worth. Every purchase made through Connected in the Hope makes a real difference in a weaver’s life, giving her more than an income—giving her hope for the future.

For today’s giveaway, one winner will get to choose a scarf from the Connected in Hope shop.  In addition, you can receive 10% off your purchase using the coupon code, SMALLTHINGS.

For your chance to win, simply leave a comment on this post.  Comments will close and a winner will be chosen via random number generator on Tuesday, November 20.  The winner will be announced within this post.

Comments are closed.  The winner is Joy: “What a wonderful story.  It always amazes me when something so small can make such a big difference in a woman’s life.”

Thank you, Connected in Hope!