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EveryDay Shea Helps Togolese Communities

By Olowo-n'djo Tchala, February 7, 2011  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Olowo-n'djo Tchala
Read on for a chance to win a gift basket filled with Alaffia body care products. I would like to begin by first expressing my gratitude and thanks to Whole Foods Market and her customers.  At this same time last year, I wrote an overview on how Whole Foods support of our EveryDay Shea line has positively impacted our disadvantaged communities in Togo. I am pleased to report that the impact continues, as was evident during my recent three week trip to Togo to visit our shea butter cooperative and community project sites. However, this trip was also a vivid reminder that we must do more. When I think of the current issues that my continent faces, it is debilitating. All economic indications point to the fact that the continent is deteriorating.  Since my last visit, I can see firsthand that Togo follows this trend: trash and plastic are pervasive throughout the landscape, deforestation and other environmental issues are now more serious than ever, economic disparities are widening, and cost of living is increasing while incomes remain stagnant or decline. In spite of these issues, just as we were the day we founded our organization, we remain determined that the overwhelming issue of poverty cannot intimidate us from honestly attempting to mitigate human suffering in our communities. This leads me to why I am writing to you in the first place – to share with you what has happened during the past year because of your support of EveryDay Shea.  In addition to maintaining the new cooperative members recruited in 2009 and 2010, we were able to collect and distribute over 500 bicycles to encourage young women to stay in school and build our first biogas system to reduce fuel wood use. In addition, we were also able to plant 1,000 trees, and set aside enough funds from sales of EveryDay Shea in 2010 to propagate and plant another 4,000 trees this year. Furthermore, we decided to increase the number of women in our maternal health project from 100 to 400. This means that now 400 women will not become part of the 280,000 that die each year in West Africa from complications due to pregnancy and childbirth.  Finally, we now have recruited another 18 women to join our shea butter cooperative. Because of the extended family structure in Togo, over 200 people will be supported on this income.  All of these accomplishments are a great encouragement for me to continue our efforts. During my trip to Togo, I also had the opportunity to visit with some of the women that joined our cooperative last year and talk with them about changes in their lives since joining the cooperative.  The following are excerpts from our discussions. Zebera Tchagoumi: “My name is Zebera Tchagoumi. Joining the cooperative last year has relieved my worries about how to support my family. I was planning to travel to Niger to work and save money for my children. Now, I don’t have to worry and all my five children are in high school.  I enjoy working at the cooperative, and I like all the different things I get to do each day.  And on market day, I see my friends who are still struggling, and they see a change in me and wish they could join the cooperative as well.  I am very happy to be able to tell all of you how much I appreciate your help, and I hope our efforts become even stronger – to bring more bikes and have more women join the cooperative so they can benefit as I have.” Selifa Ganiou: “My name is Selifa Ganiou, and I joined the cooperative last year.  Before my integration into the cooperative, I moved to Benin to work in the capitol city and was without my children and my husband.  Now, since I am at the cooperative for the last year, I thank God that I find it possible to support the needs of my family. For example, I was able to save the life of my older brother thanks to the money that I make.  I have seven children; four are presently in school.  When the other three were school age, I was not able to live with them and did not have the means to keep them in school.  I would like to thank everyone who supports our cooperative and encourage them to take a strong hand to live happily with their families, like I am able to now that I am with the cooperative and no longer have to travel to find work.” Agnanetou Kadiri: “My name is Agnanetou Kadiri. I have been with the cooperative for over a year now, and have seen a positive change in my life.  I do not have to suffer too much to gain enough for my daily bread.  Before joining the cooperative, I had a small stall at the market, but was never able to save any money. For the last year, thanks to my work, I am able to send my two children to school and each month I add to my savings account at work and save some at home, too.  I am also able to support my mother, who is very old and requires a lot of care.” Ramatou Djelilou: “I am Ramatou Djelilou and I am happy to talk with you.  With the money I earn from the cooperative, I am able to provide for my needs and those of my four children.  Since I began work, I notice that I have more respect from my husband. Thanks to my work, I can pay for my oldest two children to go to school; the other two are not school age yet.  I thank all of our friends in the United States, and hope they continue to support Alaffia so my children can have bicycles to go to school.” In summary, once again I would like to extend my gratitude to all of you; your support has made all of our 2010 accomplishments possible. During this trip, I was often asked if it wasn’t naïve of me to believe that the optimal road for African communities to rise out of poverty is to rely on our traditional knowledge and participating in ethical trade. Many of my fellow Togolese feel that we must follow the footsteps of emerging economies like China and India and rely on heavy industry and technology. In addition to the fact that the earth cannot sustain both the social and environmental degradation the conventional economic model creates, my response has been to show examples of what we have been able to do, and also show the sense of self-worth individuals and communities have from accepting and valuing our cultural heritage and resources. To me, it is more important in the long run that communities and societies can sustain themselves than individuals have quick profit.  In the end, consumers in Western societies, through their choices and consumption patterns, can have great impact on poverty alleviation in producer communities.  I am pleased to say that the past couple years have shown me that our customers and retailers care about alleviating poverty, and this care will ultimately lead to a safer world – not only on the continent of Africa, but in communities around the world. For a chance to win a gift basket filled with Alaffia body care products, enter a comment by February 22nd telling us how you use your purchases to help change the world. One comment will be selected at random to receive an Alaffia gift basket.

 

958 Comments

Comments

Shannon Ditto says ...
Knowing that a product like this, can help a whole community would defiantly motivate my purchases. Last semester I was a part of a theatre group that did an adaptation of the book 'half the sky', and there were so many little things that we learned that can really help those in need across the world. I think sometimes people give up on trying to help others because "it's so far away', but products like these def bring it closer to home.
02/07/2011 5:34:00 PM CST
Jennifer says ...
I make a conscious effort to consider how my purchases affect the economy and the environment. I avoid overpackaging, and I like to buy in bulk and refill containers. I think about the companies I purchase from and how products get to me -- whether across the country or down the street.
02/07/2011 6:07:30 PM CST
Amy D. says ...
Whenever possible, I make sure my spending power supports local, eco-friendly, cruelty-free (no animal testing!), and/or sustainably produced products. I feel like I can at least make a small difference by sending the message that to earn my hard-earned dollar, companies need to uphold the standards I believe in. The EveryDay Shea story is a beautiful example of how customers can make a huge difference by choosing products representing compassion.
02/07/2011 8:33:32 PM CST
Jacqueline H. says ...
I try to buy fair-trade produced items, locally produced items, and chemical-free items. I have a basket (different colors)like the one pictured, that I use to carry my refillable water bottle, and extra items for the day.
02/07/2011 9:07:05 PM CST
Lynn says ...
I try to buy fair trade and local products whenever possible.
02/08/2011 7:56:57 AM CST
Raj says ...
Buying this product i'm suporting following empowerment of women in Togo and worldwide,Reduction of gender inequality by valuing women's indigenous knowledge and skills and providing stable incomes,Providing scholarships and supporting education to enhance opportunities for disadvantaged youth in our communities.Promoting and maintaining fair trade and organic principles Protecting indigenous African knowledge.
02/08/2011 9:21:33 AM CST
brittany says ...
I love these products, it is the only lotion.body wash I can find that doesn't irritate my sons skin.
02/08/2011 11:38:05 AM CST
Nancy says ...
I have been using and love the EveryDay Shea lotion. Learning how supporting these products helps the Togolese community and the environment makes me want to use the other products as well. Thanks for the article and the pictures.
02/08/2011 5:20:46 PM CST
Lindsey Carothers says ...
I love this product! It's amazing.
02/09/2011 12:20:57 PM CST
Cindy Robinson says ...
Just knowing the proceeds from a product line are helping those in need is a great motivation to purchase the product. It motivates me! I have always been one to support causes like this from those who need drug and rehab to breast cancer fund raisers etc. When you know your money is going for a good cause, you don't mind spending a little more. GREAT CAUSE!
02/09/2011 12:26:01 PM CST
Christy says ...
I just know have learned about these wonderful products. I'm truly exctied to try them and knowing they help other communities as we is a blessing!
02/09/2011 1:44:07 PM CST
aletra says ...
This is why I shop Whole Foods as often as I can even during my travels I map out your locations. Thanks for all you do and for bringing stories like them to our attention.
02/09/2011 1:47:54 PM CST
Ally says ...
I try to buy locally produced products and eco-friendly products as much as I can.
02/09/2011 2:14:21 PM CST
Angie says ...
I try to buy local products whenever possible and I always try to buy reusable/recyclable products.
02/09/2011 2:24:31 PM CST
Alicia Webster says ...
We have very little money to spend (on anything) so it is imperative to me that every penny that we DO spend is accounted for from an ethical standpoint. I try really hard to make sure that every time I purchase an item, that I am supporting a company that reflects what I stand for. I would rather spend a few pennies more on an item where a portion of the proceeds will go towards the benefit of feeding hungry children (who are my main concern right now), rather than merely feeding the coffers of a mega-conglomerate.
02/09/2011 2:35:00 PM CST
Hari says ...
I try to be aware of every choice I make in my life in order to maintain the ecological balance. I buy organic, local and sustainable products. It gives me great pleasure supporting small businesses that have not lost their soul. I also try to buy basic foods with less packaging material. Above all, I turned Vegan few years ago when I decided that I didn't want to be a part of that system. "We must be the change we wish to see in the world." -Mahatma Gandhi.
02/09/2011 3:22:57 PM CST
Jo says ...
I LOVE Alaffia products - for the way they nourish and enliven my skin, but especially because they put resources into the hands of women, enabling them to live with greater dignity and in turn to nourish their families and communities. I've started buying Alaffia products as gifts for my family and friends, to honor them as well as the women who produced such wonderful ingredients!
02/09/2011 4:05:02 PM CST
K Jahnke says ...
Thank you Whole Foods for bringing us these wonderful products that in turn help people around the world.
02/09/2011 4:26:43 PM CST
Thomas Pio says ...
I always consider how my purchase is effecting the community. Knowing your purchase is helping change a community is a great feeling.
02/09/2011 4:36:11 PM CST
Amy Kelly says ...
What a wonderful program. I would definitely like to try the products and be able to help give opportunities to women their families.
02/09/2011 4:38:18 PM CST
ingrid Rousseau says ...
I think changing the world happens one at a time. I am striving to eat and live healthy which means exercising almost daily, buying organic, and when possible, locally grown products that are in season. It also also includes reducing my carbon footprint with biking in the summer, reducing my heat consumption in the winter or AC in the summer. I use essential oils to treat most diseases I may get throughout the year, etc. So I guess what I do with my purchases is share them with willing individuals (along with advices) who want to learn better ways of living, contributing, learning and growing better. :) What's great about it is that the persons I help soon learn they can enjoy everything healthier habits may do to them and that's a big win for me to see them getting healthier and in turns spreading the word consciously and inconsciously around them... I guess this is TRULY a win-win situation! :)
02/09/2011 7:49:03 PM CST
Rachael C. says ...
I try to make conscious purchases- really think about what I am buying. When you purchase something you are promoting it, whether you mean to or not. I try to only promote items/companies/ideas intentionally and by choice rather than by lack of attention to what I am buying/where it is coming from/who is presenting it to me. I also try to explain media properly to my children so they understand the relation between where you put your money & how it affects your world, and how (as my 5 YO put it) 'everyone wants your money.'
02/09/2011 8:46:57 PM CST
Katie says ...
Whenever possible, I make sure my spending power supports local, eco-friendly, cruelty-free, no animal testing, and/or sustainably produced products. My purchases may be small but they still make a difference!
02/09/2011 9:21:01 PM CST
Awanda Clark says ...
I am only a individual who loves all of your products. Of course if you would ask my husband he would tell you that I purchase your products like a am a store. I have used your shampoo and conditioners and am in love with them. My hair feels wonderful after using them. I have email all of my friends the various store links that sell your products asking them to purchase them or at least give them a try, I doubt very seriously they will be disappointed. I purchase most of my products from Whole Foods or from the Alaffia website. I wish you continued success with your company and many wishes to all the ladies it has and is helping. I love reading the stories. May God's blessings continue to be with everyone. Awanda Clark Arizona USA
02/09/2011 9:49:56 PM CST
Joy says ...
I'll do whatever I can to buy products like the Every day Shea line. It not only makes me look good on the outside, but makes me feel good on the inside too, knowing that by my purchases it is helping other communities.
02/09/2011 9:50:21 PM CST

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