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EveryDay Shea Helps Togolese Communities

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.

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958 comments

Comments

Danielle says …

I too try to buy Fair Trade as much as possible...organic fruits and veggies...natural meats...I've been buying like this for over twenty years (whenever possible)...living in Jax,. FL that was a tough one too! Now our choices are basically endless, and it's a pleasure to shop!

Nicole D says …

When I make purchases, I try to limit my purchases to products developed close to where I live to lessen the impact on the environment, however when that is not possible, I try to stick to items that have been produced in sustainable or socially-conscious ways. We have only one world to live in, the people and resources in it should be protected.

Ivy says …

This is good for everyone to be more conscious about their food choices and purchases! Thanks!

ConstanceG. says …

Purchasing products from disadvantaged communities helps bring them support instead of stuffing the pockets of soulless, greedy CEOs in American corporations. Fight the power and do something good!

SandyGiallanza says …

I enjoy purchasing/using fair trade products as I know it lifts others. Thank you!

teresa swenson says …

changing the world is about more than just making a purchase; it's about making an impact; I try to think before I buy anything - how will my purchase impact others as well as myself? With alaffia products it's win / win all the way around - I benefit from products that beat overpriced high end department store products in efficacy, safety and beauty. And i am confident that my purchase will improve the lives of others while leaving a responsible environmental legacy. Now that's beautiful.

Linda Werner says …

It is important to buy products that are made in a sustainable way. It is important that the growers/producers have a job that can sustain them and their families and that the land used to grow a product is available to be used by generations to come.

Yasmin Butt says …

On a personal level, even though I'm on a seriously tight budget at the moment, I always read product packaging when I'm shopping. If it's not cruelty free tartware, it's not going in the basket. Nothing by L'oreal has ever entered my home in 21 years! I also recycle everything I can and use freecycle to keep those pesky landfills empty. I try and avoid stores that knowningly exploit sweatshops but haven't made a concerted effort to change. I've not shopped in a Primark in years despite digging the clothes. Fairtrade bananas, hot chocolate, chocolate and coffee keep the home running too ; ) xx

Shari says …

We try and buy local and organic whenever possible to help our community. We joined a csa a year ago to support a local farm and the veggies are fantastic! We feel good about joining and know we are eating healthier

Yanee Sopitarchasak says …

As possible, I buy the products from farmer markets which all the profit go toward farmers. I try to buy organic and healthy products to support healthy lifestyle.

Sarah Gray says …

Slowly but surely my family of 6 is making little changes every day to improve our lives and our environment.

Alda Cummings says …

shop for what I need and still help others at the same time.

Missy says …

I try and choose wisely when purchasing to ensure that only ethical companies profit.

anne says …

It is wonderful to know that this is beneficial to this community.

Felina J. Maris says …

Just a little thought before purchasing anything can have a big impact. I am much more aware of how my dollars can impact so many lives and I try to use this knowledge to do a greater good for everyday people instead of feeding the giant companies coffers.

organiccents says …

I love supporting companies that are really making a difference and are not just about the bottom line. I wasn't aware of the Everyday Shea line but find this story inspiring. I will add this company to the list of others like 3Seams, Moksa Organics, Toms shoes, Warby Parker glasses. If anyone knows of more companies like these please share!!!!!!

Darshna says …

I use my spending power to purchase from companies that nurture the environment and my children. Our choices today impacts the future of our children

Michael Weber says …

I think of how my purchases affect the environment every time I use my fair trade basket I bought at Whole Foods - I take it with me to the farmer's market and especially to the quilt fabric store. It saves wasting an paper or plastic bag and someone always comments which gives me an opp to talk about how going beyond fair-trade can impact someone's lives positively.

Peggy McConnell says …

It makes a big difference to me, when I hear stories like this. If products deliver help to people in need, I am very influenced to buy

barbara Wilson says …

everytime I make a purchase I say "I am okay with you business practices." I say "This is okay to put in my body. It is quality enough for my family" When I shop I know I say "I love you" to my family. Giving them the best. When I buy fair trade I say "I appreciate you". When I order my CSA I say "This is my town"

Effie says …

I try to adhere to the rules of nature and participate in activities that will help make the world a safer and healthier place to live. I try to contribute every chance I get, and purchase products that will directly or indirectly benefit others, especially a group of people. We are our neighbors' keeper even if they are a continent away.

Cree Myers says …

While trying to maintain a healthy vegan lifestyle on a very limited budget, I realized that since I did not necessarily have a problem with eating animals and their products (more it was that I had a problem with their treatment during their lives), I could undoubtedly do more good for them by buying products from companies that went to great lengths to provide a quality of life for the animals they kept. I do believe this makes more of an impact.

Lydia says …

I make sure the products are cruelty free and vegan. Organic and naturally sourced ingredients mean no chemicals used to harm the local ecosystem. I'm lucky to be able to find bath and body products that fit that description and they are made locally right here in the Bay Area. Their philosophy benefits everyone involved and many who may never hear of them just by the honesty of their company philosophy. Whenever I shop I do the best I can to make sure I know that no one was negatively affected by my purchase. I no longer by leather shoes, hand bags, belts, etc. I feel happy when I find a cute pair of boots made out of PVC. A lower demand for leather shoes, purses and accessories will mean that fewer animals in foreign countries will be killed (with no governing body protecting them) in heinous ways to produce the items that I and people like me will no longer purchase or wear.

Mary Rose Barron says …

I really feel it is our duty as citizens of this planet to do everything possible to reduce our footprint. Something as simple as using your own bags, walking & taking publicnsportation when possible, recycling buying and using as many local products as possible can be a small start to a greater end. Most people think that they can't change the world but they are wrong. If every person did one thing every day toward a more sustainable and concientious lifestyle, we could make a difference.

mcintosh says …

I try to shop as locally as possible and choose fair trade organic for other items when possible. I am a huge fan of Ten Thousand Villages and particularly try to support women-based businesses!

Arpita says …

first i want to thank WFM for existing. Its bcos of you I get to choose products that's good for me, my family and the whole environment under one roof.

Jill Moore says …

I try with each purchase I make to be wawre of how it can help-or hinder-our community of humanity in this world. I have used the Alaffia products for several years (purchased at WFM) and truly enjoy them. We love the soaps, so creamy and hydrating. I realize that each purchase cannot be as helpful to the world as I might like, but I have made the commitment to choose the products that will benefit the most, harm the least. I am stringent about sticking with it, even if it m eans that I can purchase less because of the sometimes higher pricing. It is worth much more than money to be able to help others (myself included) and learn that we really can live with less while giving more to others.

Joanie Pley says …

I would share with others how much we need to be part of the bigger picture, by patronizing products that help us and others. We need to develop a consciousness about who we buy from, corporate owned companies do not need our help, people living in a community do. It's time to step up - think globally and act locally!

Randy Barrett says …

As women of wisdom, dignity. and wealth in many areas, it is importsnt that we can help support the hope of our sisters on the other side of the world in their efforts to live w/ their own wisdom and dignity by something simple and good for us all RSB

Patricia M says …

As part of the human family, it gives me great joy and a sense of contribution to buy only products/items which are completely healthy to use, which are produced (grown, manufactured, processed, whatever) in a totally responsible and ethical way, and which do as much as possible to benefit the people in any way involved with the production/growth of the product/item. I buy as much bulk as possible, so that I can have a part in reducing the need for packaging; and when I do buy something packaged, it's a very high priority for me to buy high-quality products with minimal packaging or at least recycled and recyclable. It is critical to support companies/organizations/fellow humans who are doing the right thing just because it's the right thing to do, not out of greed, etc. It is absolutely critical that everyone on our planet take responsibility for this, and I am deeply appreciative that I am willing and able to do my part on this. We all *do* make a difference in our world, with everything we say and do and think, and by what we do *not* say and do and think, such as regarding what we spend our money on and the businesses and other organizations that we support with our dollars. Never ever ever let it be said that we don't or we cannot make a difference. Many wise humans before us have known and said that we each do make a difference ... that indeed one person at a time is how we change our world! :-)

Carolyn Kost says …

It's so hard to balance the desire to buy local, buy natural, and decrease the carbon footprint with that of supporting artisans, particularly wimmin in other places around the world. It leads to analysis paralysis. At some point, we need to choose.

Amy says …

I know I can't fix the national economy, but I can support my local economy by buying most of my family's food at a farmer's market. Also, getting to know the hardworking people that grow/raise my food is a definite plus!

Marcia says …

Using purchasing power to help others is what it's all about. Although I'm unfamiliar with Alaffia products, I would like to try them.

Cindi Koski says …

We forget how our lives seemingly are easier than someone elses. We take for granted such simple things like fresh water, indoor plumbing, grocery stores. Anything I can do that helps someone else in some small way just seems like the right thing to do and makes sense.

Jody says …

This product is wonderful and now i know how it helps a community. I will purchase.

Susan says …

I hope to change the world through educating others on buying products full of chemicals which harm us.

Amy Butcher says …

When I have the time and ingredients, I like to make my own skincare products for home use. That isn't always possible, however, so when I do have to purchase such items, I try very hard to "put my money where my mouth is" by making sure the products I buy are environmentally friendly and socially responsible. The Alaffia product line definitely fits the bill!

Elizabeth L'Abate says …

I try to buy locally -made and locally- grown products to cut down on carbon footprint. I f I can't do that, I try to get fair-trade products made sustainably....If I can't do that....I examine if I REALLY NEED it...

Carol Sawaya says …

Just to know that the sales of these products go to help these wonderful people is such an inspiration. xoxo. Our family buys fair-trade products and just knowing the effect of our purchase is helping change lives. Wow! How wonderful!! We recycle everything we can and pick up trash in our community. We also have a garden to grow our own vegetables and have some fruit trees. I would love to help our community learn to plant their own gardens and up-keep them. We buy/eat chemical and pesticide-free.

Danielle says …

My favorite product is the coconut cream. I am glad to see that my contributions is helping a community. On my free time I volunteer for various causes and am glad I am contributing to society in the best way I can.

paris cassadine says …

I love these products for the hair and skin; I find them to be the best and at a good price; I had noticed the logo fair trade when I purchased them and didn't fully understand what that meant and am really glad you feautured the women in Africa involved in making this great product; I am delighted to know that something I really enjoy using is helping anothers livelihood and esteem.

Melanie West says …

I am more conscious in the last few years of how I choose to spend my dollars as it does represent my vote for change. I may not have time to give, but I choose to use products that are made in a way that positively impacts the world by being more environmentally friendly, more local, if possible, and make impactful changes to those who make them. Please consider me for the opportunity to win the basket of goodies

lauren caccese says …

I always try to put my money where my mouth is...it is so easy for us to say and fully believe we support buying local, or fair trade, or organic from small farms, or make purchases that support whole communities in any country...it's another thing to actually do it. I talk about how wonderful it is to buy this way so often...and I try whenever possible to purchase products that "give back".

Ann P says …

I am now more conscious of making sure each dollar I spend on grocery and store items count towards helping out my community as well as other groups in need. I carefully read the labels and do research on items as well.

Lynette says …

It is critical for the sustainability of our global communities to purchase products like Everyday Shea and the Alaffia Body Care line because you can have an immediate impact on the working members of a cooperative,their families and land. It makes you a conscious consumer. Thank you for the reminder to be a better keeper of the environment!

Alice Furumoto says …

I'm a member of a local, "Green for All" group. I'm impressed by the work of the Togo cooperative. Supporting this kind of fair trade should be part of building equitable and sustainable futures for everyone.

Sher Lombardi says …

To change the world, we have to think globally. When I make purchases that are a result of people that live a considerably humbled life, I am humbled to be a contributer to that. I want my purchases to continue to provide education for the young people of countries like Niger. Bless.

Phyllis says …

Look forward to exploring these products, it's about helping people and impacting their lives for the better.

Andrea says …

I try to buy local products whenever possible to improve the lives of those in my community. If not local, I try to find fair trade products to benefit the lives of workers.

natalie goodwin says …

I always purchase products that are fair trade or local and organic when ever possible.

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