Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Money Well Spent

I've mentioned a few times that in these last eight months, I've been challenged and convicted to think more about global issues. It probably has to do with the fact that my child is (perhaps? is he even born yet?) at this very moment spending the first part of his life in an underprivileged country, a country where human trafficking is rampant. It's not as easy to be US-centric when our family will be so intimately connected to another part of the world forever. Don't get me wrong--I'm still a work in progress and am continually learning how to think beyond myself. Baby steps, right?
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One thing that I've really enjoyed learning about is, well, I like to call it purposeful purchases. I had heard of fair trade, and I can definitely see why that is popular. "Fair trade is an organized social movement and market-based approach that aims to help producers in developing countries obtain better trading conditions and promote sustainability." There are all kinds of products available to purchase on many websites, and my crude layperson's summary of the industry is that it encourages those of us in wealthy countries to buy a product (at a fair price) from a person in a poor country, rather than hopping over to the mall.
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But the purposeful purchase aspect, for me, comes in taking the concept of fair trade to a deeper, more personal level. It's when I know more specifically about who is making the product and how my purchase is creating a better quality of life for them. These are my favorites so far:
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Punjammies are gorgeous pajamas.
Their website describes it best: Each punjammi is created in an after-care facility in India by women who have been rescued, released or escaped from a life of forced prostitution. When one manages to escaped from this life of horror, she has few options where to turn. Aside from the emotional and psychological trauma, women formerly working as prostitutes cannot easily enter schools, return to family systems or secure jobs to support themselves in India. A high quality after-care center is one of the best options a woman has at rebuilding her life. Holistic aftercare involves quality medical care, emotional safety, education and the tools to create a new way of life for herself. Empowering each woman with an opportunity to learn a marketable skill and become a part of a viable business is the purpose of PUNJAMMIES™. In providing for her basic need to support herself, she sees that she has value far beyond what the lies have told her. She begins to see her rightful place of value – a princess.

So powerful! The cost runs higher than the pj's at Old Navy (most are $35), but, seriously, did you just READ that? That kind of horror is beyond what my mind can comprehend. To be a part of that healing is worth it. What an amazing and powerful organization. And I'm telling you: check out the jams. They are adorable. I think Sariska Safari is my favorite design.
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Nightlight is an organization that I stumbled on accidentally. My sweet cousin Nicole was wearing a really awesome necklace, and I asked her where she got it. She told me she got it from an organization called Nightlight who help rescue women from the sex trade in Bangkok. BANGKOK, THAILAND?! Yep! That Bangkok. The city I will be traveling to in (hopefully) a year and a half to meet and bring home my son or daughter. A city where boys and girls born next to my child will be in danger of that same trade in just a few short years. I immediately researched this group and was so encouraged to read that they are a Christian NPO whose mission is to build relationships and provide hope, intervention, rescue and assistance to women and children exploited in the sex industry by offering alternative employment, vocational opportunities, life-skills training and physical, emotional and spiritual development to women seeking freedom.

Now, I have to admit, I won't be able to shop this site as much as I would like, because the jewelry (hand-made!) is very pricey. All the best necklaces are over $40. (The one pictured above is $45.) But I want to promote them and I'm committed to buying something from them, because I'm so blessed by their ministry. Their name is based on Isaiah 9:2: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” I will never read that verse the same way again.
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The next 2 sites are also jewelry sites and have the coolest looking products! You may remember Suubi from our raffle. I purchased one of their necklaces to add to the prize package. Suubi was started when a family was in Uganda for their own adoption, and met some women who created and sold recycled paper bead necklaces. There was a need to open up the market-place for these necklaces, and this family sought to meet that need. The women in Uganda are coming up with amazing designs and impress the socks off of me. Several are $20 and under.
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31 Bits is the tre chic of the recycled paper bead biz. My favorite of their products are these gloriously chunky necklaces that are a total statement piece. You may remember that Kristen Howerton wore one of their necklaces when she was on The View. 31 bits was started by college students--college students from Southern Cal! They met 6 African women, also in Uganda, and saw these women trying to support their families with meager income from truly remarkable necklaces--but there was no market. So, these college students began to partner with these women and have created a fabulous--and fashionable--organization.
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These are just a few of the products that have caught my eye and my heart. I'm not saying that I'll never shop at Target or Claire's again (I mean, we are on a budget) but I love knowing about them, spreading the word about them, and giving them my business whenever possible. If you know of any other places to make purposeful purchases, PLEASE leave a comment and let me know!

3 comments:

Pam McKerring said...

ssekodesigns.com the cutest sandals ever... the first pair are pricey... but you can purchase (or if you are crafty sew your own) additional straps for pretty cheap. I rationalized that I was getting 5 pairs of shoes for a really good price instead of 1 pair for a whole lot!

they are the "wedding" shoes, bridesmaids got them to match. I'm dying to wear them... only 50 days to go!

Jessica said...

Thanks for the thought-provoking post. Sometimes I forget to think about where my food, clothes, and conveniences of modern life come from. My family is thrifty and I've always searched out the best bargain, but at whose expense? Generally, poor workers halfway around the world. I like Target a lot, so its hard to strike a balance!

Rory said...

Oh Jen I love stuff like this! Too cool! I have never bought the punjammies, but heard about them awhile back...thinking about them for Christmas gifts this year. Love it! Was thinking about you and the adoption WAIT this morning. I'm not even in process right now, but know several who are and for some reason my heart was heavy with the waiting today. Made me say an extra prayer for you that the timing will feel PERFECT! Love you friend!