I’ll be honest. I don’t enjoy going shopping on a regular ol’ day. I much prefer using “me” time to read a novel with a cup of coffee. And so Black Friday? Yeah….I don’t leave my house. We usually snuggle in with some hot cocoa and Thanksgiving leftovers. I have no problem opting out of the shopping madness on Thanksgiving weekend.
If you have Christmas shopping to do today, consider an alternative to braving the crowds at the mall. Consider finding gifts that support a wonderful cause: Connected in Hope. This is not a sponsored post. This is an organization that grabbed my attention because of the way it empowers women. And I figure my readers care about that, too.
I’m going to let Connected in Hope cofounder Ryan Murnane share some of her story about this amazing organization. So here it is:
My family and I founded Connected in Hope following the adoption of my younger son, Joseph, from Ethiopia in 2009. We completely fell in love with the country and the wonderful people we met and wanted to, in some way, give back. While we love adoption (of course!) we also know that it is not the only answer and that poverty should never be the sole reason why birth mamas feel they must relinquish their children.
We truly believe that the key to sustainable change in places like Ethiopia comes through empowering women and educating kids. We have a fair trade, social enterprise model offering income development programs in addition to a wide range of holistic services for the women and their families. We partner with (and fully fund and support) the Former Women Fuel Wood Carriers Association, a group of 70 women artisans who were once fuel wood carriers and are now weaving beautiful scarves and baskets. Prior to weaving the women were working as fuel wood collector a, sadly, common line of work for poor, under educated women.
Our goal at Connected in Hope is to empower these women to lift their families out of extreme poverty through sustainable income development. We train and employ vulnerable women to create high quality products (scarves and leather products) that are marketed here in the United States. We pay the women up front for the products and then re-invest 100% of the profits back into programs that benefit the women, their families, and the community.
In addition to our income generation programs we operate a preschool and kindergarten serving 60 children ages 3-6 and an after school program serving 16 more. Our school offers a combination of traditional academics and exploration in art, music, drama and dance. Again, our children come from the very poor area of Shiro Meda, so would not typically have access to this type of education. We have a full time social worker on staff who meets regularly with families in their homes to assess needs and encourage involvement.
We also offer adult education programs like English classes, budgeting and savings training, and community education programs on topics like nutrition, child development, etc.
All of our scarves bear the name of one of the women who worked on production. Buyers are able to visit our site, read her story and see how their purchase is truly making a difference in her life. They can even leave her a note of thanks or encouragement on the site.
Having full time staff working on the ground day in and day out with the women is a wonderful bonus too. We are able to provide a level of transparency and connection that isn’t available in traditional buying situations. We are able to share photos and updates with our buyers so that they can continue to follow “their” weaver’s progress long after the initial purchase was made.
I’m putting one on my Christmas list!
Connected in Hope has graciously offered to giveaway one of their beautiful scarves (winner’s choice) to a Carrots reader. AND offering Carrots readers a 10% off coupon code for all their scarves: CARROTS10
Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter the giveaway! (U.S. entries only, please.) Giveaway ends midnight EST, December 3rd.