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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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Comments

Purnima Oza says …

Purchasing products like the above, which support local small businesses, and almost more importantly, micro-finance projects throughout the world is so very important as for the latter, it supports women's ability to make a living for themselves. Micro-finance makes small loans that are not collaterized; and my research has shown that these are the loans that are paid back without default at the highest rate. In other words, when these loans are made, it changes the lives of mostly poor women, and they have the dignity they deserve; and their children have a better life! Kudos to WholeFoods for supporting this! Whether it's coffee or skin care products, I always look for the placards that tell us, WholeFoods customers that this item is funded by micro-finance or is a local product (Jason's nut butters), etc. I buy those, with the extreme hope that it makes someone's life a bit better! Thank You, Purnima Oza

Kat Olbes says …

I am already using Shea products and will buy them from Whole Foods going forward so I can help support communities and families like those in Togo. I also buy the freshest produce, organic, whenever possible.

Catherine Z. says …

Every purchase I make considers its environmental and public health impacts. I myself am a vegetarian and eat local, organic food to the extent possible. I have two small dogs, rescued from a puppy mill, who are almost vegetarians. Their food is home cooked with local, organic ingredients including oatmeal, beans, vegetables and some sort of meat. All of my personal care products are selected based on their ingredients and where they are manufactured. E.g. I keep my purchases local to the extent possible. And, certainly animal testing is not allowed. I ask my doctors to provide non-pharmaceutical treatment, such as physical therapy or Neti pots so I minimize drug pollution to our water. I exercise regularly and try to stay physically fit. I do not own a car, by choice, in an effort to reduce my carbon footprint. I commute by bus, bike or walking. I minimize my energy consumption by keeping my thermostat at 60 degrees F or below in the winter. I do not have air conditioning. I purchase wind power from my local utility. When I travel I try to support local peoples by purchasing their art, crafts and products. I travel by local means including bus or "combis" and I use local guides. While in Africa I visited a local Zulu women's cooperative and purchased a number of beaded animal statues. In Madagascar I visited a women's cooperative involved in making paper and silk. Again I purchased their products. I reduce my waste and water use where possible. My appliances are energy efficient and energy star rated. I have not used a clothes dryer for 15 years-hanging my clothes to dry outside, or in the house during the winter. I consciously consider my impact on the world with almost every decision I make because I feel I have to not only walk the talk, but live it as well.

Sandie says …

I try to purchase products that have the least amount of negative effect on the earth or it's inhabitants. I believe that there are others out there like me, and more every day, and we DO make great change!

Sally Messing says …

Thanks for telling us about these products! I will definitely buy these. It's important to support one another.

Debbie Terry says …

I love to hear how my every day purchases can contribute to the development of others. A company's involement in world good influences my purchase. I am lucky that I have the ability to pay a little more and I appreciate the opportunity to be part of helping others to a safer easier life.

Michelle K says …

Your post was truly touching. Whenever I make a purchase, I think about the social and environmental impact of the product I am buying. I think about whether the package will go directly to a landfill or whether it can be recycle or reused.

Caroline Ganci says …

I always try to make purchases that will not only benefit myself,but the community from which they come from as well. I try to purchase all natural and organic products as well.I make efforts every day to help the community by educating todays youth; I like to motivate even my youngest students to eat healthy,go green,and care about the planet.

Brandi morann says …

I love supporting products like Alaffia body care products that can change lives and the whole world. Every person can make a difference in the smallest way in our daily decisions. I am so impressed and in total awe of the bravery and determination of these wonderful women. Sincerely, B.C.M.

Madhuka Ranmuthu says …

I am very happy to know when I buy this line that I will not only be getting a great product, but will be helping people in need as well. I would be a little extra for a healthy body care item especially when it is eco-friendly.

Lindsey Beech says …

I try to change the world wherever I can. I buy organic as much as I can. I use soap nuts to wash my clothes instead of deterdent, and I am going to start line drying my clothes in the summer.

sara says …

What wonderful prizes! Love that Whole Food market supports many people across the globe.

Piyumali says …

Happy to buy a product line that is eco-friendly!

Jim says …

Using organic and Fair Trade products helps "individuals" to develop their businesses and livelyhoods. It allows me to knowinglly by products that make a difference. I feel that I have somehow contributed to an organization working for change. Change for a better life for all the peoples of the world.

Heather says …

I buy local, fair-trade, organic, and minimally packaged whenever possible.

Paul says …

Great products that support a great cause!

Chris says …

We try to purchase most of the thinigs we buy from local businesses to support our own local community and economy. Where this is not possible, we always look first for fair trade products and try to purchase goods manufactured by companies with a solid humanitarian reputation.

dana r. says …

i am very careful and mindful of my purchases and only buy in bulk, non-packaged grains, fruits, nuts, anything i can really. i am trying to help the enviroment everyday.

Mary P. says …

When you know that your purchase is helping people and/or helping a good cause, you can't help but feel good......It's a kind of "pay if forward" attitude we can all do.

Anne Wilding says …

I am a conscientious buyer. Our dollars and choices make a difference to local farmers and communities around the world. I applaud Whole Foods and their suppliers for taking such an important lead and educating consumers. The more of us that buy organic products with minimal packaging that make positive impacts on the planet, the more the prices will go down and availability will rise.

MaryC says …

Love the body lotion. A definite plus is knowing how the sale of the product helps a community.

Kathy says …

I'm definitely going to look for these products to help the world.

Amy says …

I love to make purchases that support small businesses that are in the stage of growth and transformation. I get to know who I am buying from and I like having that personal connection. So, with my buying, I serve others in our community and give them the chance to serve me. It is a win, win!

Stephanie V. says …

buy organic, sustainable products that are recycleable tvollowitz at aol dot com

Z Jacobson says …

I consider the environment and fair trade practices whenever I shop. I buy in bulk, always bring my own shopping bags, refill containers and buy locally produced products. Now I am going to try these products!

Julie says …

As a physician in training I believe that health and vitality make life a joy to live. I wholly support Alaffia and am grateful for their work to make body care products that are not only natural and good for the skin, but also for their commitment to sustainable global practices. Thanks!

Nicole says …

Very inspiring! I try to buy local or fair trade whenever possible. Every little thing makes a difference!

Sharon Smith says …

I use my purchases to help change the world by purchasing items from companies that support causes to sustain life. Causes such as hunger relief, cancer research and patient support, child welfare and maternal and child health initiatives. I try to buy products with reduced packaging and products whose production does little to harm or impact the environment. I do not buy products from companies that exploit their workers or have abusive or overly sexual advertising with misogynistic messages. Our children's minds, bodies, spirits and futures must be protected.

Laurel says …

I think using such products is one small we can help others less fortunate, and at the same time, use sustainable products that are environmentally friendly. Without sources for income, communities like this in Togo would not be able to find jobs, feed and cloth their children. So it is doing two (or three or four) good things at one time. I will also be reusing and/or recycling the package, cardboard and plastic "pump" bottles, as well as the basket itself. Nothing goes to waste at our house! Our motto is "use it up...wear it out...make it do!" We'll enjoy using the products and at the same time, the Togolese community will benefit. We'll also be certain to "get the word out" about this sustainable, organic product to our own local community here in Cleveland.

Kathy says …

It's The Circle of Life...giving, receiving and passing on the knowledge while making a better, friendly earth. Knowing how the Alaffia body care products help Togolese community and the environment makes everyone a happy recipient.

Christine says …

I try to buy local products whenever I can.

laura Leh says …

to be honest I have never thought much about it. Thank you for bringing it to my attention that I can make a difference in the world.

Amy says …

I purchase from local suppliers. It's a win, win -- I can make a personal connection with locals and serve their businesses, while they serve my needs with their goods/services.

Sue Pelinski says …

I buy products that help others in poorer countries and in our own country and it makes me feel that I am doing my own small part to save the world.

moderson says …

products not used will be donated to a woman's abuse shelter along with hotel soaps,etc from our travels

Deb Pohlmeier says …

I am planning to try these products the next time I am in the Omaha store thank you debbie

Venessa says …

When I have the choice, I prefer to purchase products such as yours that support a good cause. I love your blissful baby balm! It smells yummy.

telainda watkins says …

I LOVE YOUR PRODUCTS THEY HAVE MADE MY FAMILY A JOY AND BLESSING TO USE THEM KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK!

Pierce says …

I like knowing my purchases go to help a good cause.

Kristy Sytsma says …

I haven't tried EveryDay Shea products yet. However, after reading this article I am going to give it a try. It's nice to know there are companies out there that use some of their profits to help others in need.

Blake says …

These are great products that support a great cause.

irene knokh says …

buying cleaner products buying products from companies that have fair labor practice (i.e. pay fair wages)

Jenny says …

Basically I always look for items to buy at whole foods that are a reasonable cost while still supporting the local community or fair trade labor. It's my small way of contributing I feel like.

Denise Johnson says …

I will share my gift basket items with others who could use them, as I have in the past.

Julie A. Meier says …

Giving love and support is what this whole world is about! God instills us with this! What an awesome way to help another country!! Wow!

Sharon says …

I alwyas use my bags when I go into a store and I would definitely use your basket and when I would get stopped by people about the basket I would tell the story,which is beautiful, behind the basket...pay it forward. Sharon Wood

Susan says …

By buying humanely raised and chemical-free food, I am supporting the providers and making my voice heard.

Debra Fanshel says …

Whenever I shop I try to always see who my purchase will benefit and whether or not anyone will be hurt by supporting their business. I haven't yet tried this shea product but after reading this wmail, I will definitely be giving it a try to help all these wonderful women!

Kelly Furlong-Rezac says …

I love to use products from around the world. It is especially nice to know who these products are helping in the country of origin. Thank you!

Paula says …

Buying local is the way to go... always try to utilize anything sold locally.

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