Today I’m sharing at The MOB Society about one of our favorite Christmas customs. After months apart, our kids are coming from the Midwest to the Northwest TOMORROW! Jeff and I are beyond excited! You might be surprised at a family tradition from Jeff’s family that is now a sweet part of our home and holiday. Here’s a taste: “I wasn’t comfortable with being called ‘girlfriend’ the first time I heard it. Frost coated the windows of the little house in the mountains, but inside the woodstove warmed the rooms. I had a front row seat to watch the way a family with two boys celebrated Christmas. Read more on The MOB Society blog.”
Fair Trade and gifts that give back
We’re all thinking about choosing gifts to show our love to people in our lives. I’ve had the chance to know ministries around the world, offering creatively-skilled work for women otherwise without support, making them vulnerable to exploitation. I just returned from seeing the beautiful work of AIM in Cambodia. I met Tammy of Come Together Trading through blogging for Compassion, and she offers one such opportunity to choose gifts giving hope to women around the world. I love the story of how God worked in Tammy and her husband to impact lives globally! I asked Tammy to share the story of Come Together Trading. Maybe THIS is the gift source you’ve been looking for!
How did Come Together Trading come together?
In 2009 we took a trip to Kenya with Compassion International and it changed everything for us. At this point, our only travel outside the USA was our honeymoon in Cancun and a Royal Caribbean cruise to the Virgin Islands. We had been sponsoring children through Compassion for several years and the opportunity came up to meet a boy we had been corresponding with. Instead of taking our normal comfortable vacation to the beach or mountains, as we did each year, we decided to get outside our comfort zone and go to Africa. God had been opening our hearts and minds to see His heart for the poor and we were so committed to the work of Compassion on behalf of children living in poverty. We spent close to three weeks visiting small, humble churches throughout the country.
At many churches we visited, the women of the church had tables set up selling their handmade goods. Of course, as Americans who love to shop, we bought everything they had. They were so appreciative and we were so moved that these items had been made by hand and had so much meaning behind them. As we were leaving village, our local Compassion guide explained that we had just provided 3 months income to the women in that church. Jobs are almost non-existent, and there is almost no opportunity for them to sell their goods. After returning home, we could not get those women off of our minds and we decided to do something. Come Together was founded later that same year.
What’s the real goal of CTT?
To provide a retail marketplace in the USA for people who have very little opportunity where they live. To speak up, so to speak, for those who cannot speak for themselves, in an economic sense. To provide a marketplace for people who have no marketplace.
How do you choose products you offer?
We look for beautifully handmade items with an even more beautiful story to share. The product is what catches our eye, but it’s also the story of who is making the products. Most of the groups we partner with are fellow members of the Fair Trade Federation. This is how we learn of their work and see items they create.
How does shopping with CTT make a difference for vulnerable people?
By providing income and jobs. We believe one of the main solutions to poverty is jobs. Poverty is a complicated issue with many factors involved, but for a lot of people we have met, they want to work. They don’t necessarily want charity. Doing business together through Fair Trade allows them to help themselves.
Buying is giving and every dollar we spend helps someone. There’s a great quote from an author named Anna Lappe that says: “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.” By purchasing Fair Trade products you directly create and sustain jobs for people who really need our help.
Can you give us 5 Fair Trade holiday gift ideas from your line?
- For children and parents, we have the most precious hand knitted finger puppets from Peru.
- For Christmas collectors we have incredible and very cultural Nativity scenes and ornaments. Here is one example.
- We have soaps made from unrefined shea butter in Ghana, West Africa.
- For anyone who wears glasses we have eyeglass holders hand carved by I group I have had the honor to meet in far Northeastern India.
- Olive Wood Salad Servers from Kenya.
Tammy Marshall is a social entrepreneur striving to help make the world a better place through Fair Trade. Tammy is the founder of Come Together Trading, a Fair Trade retailer of unique, handcrafted items made by people in developing countries around the world. Every purchase helps lift artisans out of poverty. .