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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

Susan says …

I research companies that I buy from to make sure that they treat their workers, the community, and the environment responsibly. I also look at the packaging materials and labeling to make sure they leave the smallest impact on the environment.

alh1203 says …

I purchase as responsibly as I can on a budget with a focus on the the best options for the health of my husband, four year old daughter and myself and the environment. Knowing that there are effective skin care producs out there that are helping other families is heart warming and I will certainly check them out.

Mary Kay says …

I purchase mindfully, considering all aspects of a product. Quality and ethical practices in manufacturing are important. When any proceeds of a product are applied toward a greater cause, this benefits everyone.

Misty says …

I buy as much locally produced goods as possible, supporting local small businesses and farms. I love buying gifts through organizations that help build communities and teach them skills and how to provide for themselves like Heifer International. Some of my favorite jewelry is made by widows and orphans of the genocide in Rwanda. Its beautiful rolled paper beads and made into countless different styles and patterns, so beautiful.

pam olichwier says …

Knowing that a product can help people and the ingredients are healthy I would be motivated to buy it.

michele says …

We all make choices each day - and those choices really affect the lives of others. Yes, there are a lot of great shea products on the market and some that have little shea in them. But these are BIG products because they can really affect lives in so many ways. A good reason to make a BIG choice.

Jennifer H says …

It makes me very pleased knowing that the proceeds from the product touches so many lives whether from receiving funds to replanting trees where deforestation is occurring. It's an excellent concept and I only hope more retailers pick up Alaffia so that it may touch others hearts and minds - knowing they are helping families across the world.

Brenda says …

I like to avoid excess packaging and Whole Foods' bulk section has consistently high quality products: oats, nuts, rice, etc. I'm an avid recycler and am conscious of ways I can reuse yogurt containers and the like.

Wendy Lohr says …

I try to purchase 'green' products, avoid overpackaging and buy products that benefit people trying to make their lives better.

Jennifer Hawkins says …

I love shopping at Whole Foods because I trust they have done their homework and offer to the customer fair trade, organic, and/or natural products. I always read labels for ingredients and look for symbols such as "Fair Trade" "organic" and "not tested on animals". I think by doing my own small part I do make a positive impact on the world and farming communities. I have used Alaffia soaps in the past and hope to win the basket so I can try the company's other products!

EK says …

I shop local, vegan, and fair trade whenever possible - and use my own bags.

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!

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.

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!

K Jahnke says …

Thank you Whole Foods for bringing us these wonderful products that in turn help people around the world.

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.

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.

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.'

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!

Rachel says …

This product is one of the few on the market which doesn't contain a single allergen I have to avoid (and believe me, I have to avoid a LOT).

Jennifer Windler says …

I try to purchase products from socially and enviromenatlly concious companies

April says …

I look for products that support sustainability and the local communities where the products were harvested, made. I purchase fair trade as often as possible and try to research products and companies prior to making purchases.

Erin says …

Sometimes it's what I don't buy that supports a better environment. I try to choose products that do not use excessive packaging and abstain from products that do.

Claudine says …

I can't use my baskets enough, they go everywhere with me. I get so many compliments at the farmers market:)By using the baskets I'm saving the planet from hunderds of plastic bags.

Charlene Perrone says …

These are wonderful inspirational stories about what a product/community can contribute! The knowledge that 1 purchase can help others is extraordinary.

elizabeth jeffreys says …

HOW I USE MY PURCHASES TO CHANGE THE WORLD - GIFT BASKET ENTRY I view my purchases as 'votes' made with dollars. My dollars 'vote' for fair trade, organic, sustainable and humane practices each time I make an informed decision about products and packaging. These votes count in a capitalist society, where the collective consumer can impose a strong influence on business practices, even where corporations impose influence the political structure. Thank you.

Florence Farley says …

Heartwarming.......to know that our purchases here will help them there!

Kerri says …

I have recently begun changing my life and the life of my family as we look at what we purchase and how it impacts our community and our Earth. We have switched our diets from processed, chemical laden foods to whole, fresh foods. For over a year now we have used re-usable shopping bags for all our shopping, (the same bags) We recycle almost every container we buy and strive to buy recycled and recyclable products. We will further our efforts in this new year buy purchasing locally farmed goods and produce and by eliminating paper towels/napkins and plates. It feels good when our dollars work within our community to promote our local economy and responsible use of our resources.

Dawn says …

We take so much for granted in this country. I tell my kids all the time that your choices can have a ripple effect on people around the world. It may start small, but can end in big changes. What better way to walk the talk than to start in this small way.

Nanci G says …

I enjoyed reading this article. It shows that we can make a difference when we make choices with our buying power.

Sarah says …

My husband and I are very dedicated to purchasing not only locally grown/made products but for products that come from other countries we make sure that those items were made humanely weather it be fair trade chocolates or co-op type producers.

Jeff Davis says …

Yest another reason why I prefer to choose items from Whole Foods over other grocers/retailers. There is a concerted effort not only to provide healthy, environmentally aware products but also to give we as consumers some idea of where products come from and who is involved in getting those products to us.

karletta johnson says …

Whenever I see products are giving a percent of money to help out brest cancer or just people with less. I always try to buy the product or give a donation. I don't have alot of money but I know a little goes a long way. I have just become natural so I don't get relaxers anymore. Relaxers have chemicals in them that are harsh and dangerous and when wash out it gets in our water suppply and who knows what else. So now I am only buying hair and body products that are natural or organic, not only for myself but for my family. This in turn will help out everyone.No more chemicals down the drain.

Miranda Jane says …

I cook for a number of people in my community, many of whom have had little exposure to natural foods. By avoiding packaged/processed foods, preservatives & chemicals in my shopping and cooking and by focusing on recipes featuring whole grains, vegetables and fruits; I'm changing the eating habits of the people I cook for one at a time. I do my best to purchase locally to keep money in my community, and seek to buy produce from farms not more than 100 miles from where I live. I believe these little things can add up to make a change.

Sandy says …

Wow amazing how a product can support a whole community.

Jason says …

Thanks for Sharing this great story !!! So good to know that buying something good for us is also good for others !!!

Sylvia Henheffer says …

I would use the purchases and share the product with my friends and family, and tell them that everytime they make a purchase they would be helping the people in Togo have safer and better living conditions. It is a great way for people to contribute to other's with very little effort on their part.

Ashley Huntey says …

I am all about supporting others and communities. If I have the availabilities to help others because I have been bless, then it is my job to go out and bless others! What a great cause and way to raise money!

Bonnie Johnstone says …

I am a grandmother living on Social Security Disability.Heaven knows that it is hard to make ends meet. The light in my day is finding ways to respect the Earth and care for my neighbor even in small ways like buying products that allow the poor to thrive without harm to the environment. I've been teaching my 6 grandchildren to do the same. We often take trips to Whole Foods to wander and read labels, identify fish or vegetables or the scent of a handmade soap. We check out where the food comes from and who made it. The story makes our meals taste better. The wonderful Shea products have a story that make my skin feel better and it sinks right down into my soul.

Michelle says …

I love the lavender scented body wash and body lotion. The smell of the body wash is sensational and the lotion is light but moisturising. Best of all, it comes in a giant bottle which means I keep it next to me when I watch tv and just pump away and moisturize!!

Ann says …

I have always believed in supporting good, whole, organic products that are best for our bodies and when it supports others in a good way, I am all for it!!!! I order many products that are "green" from the Green tea world...Japan because they are good for us and I love the people in Japan.

Yvette Greene says …

It's nice to have a product that works so well and isn't filled with chemicals......I work outside in all kind of weather and the product works wonders on my skin and hands.......I share the info and products with my sisters and I am so glad my purchases help the good people of the Togolese Communities.....

liz says …

Good to know - I did not know of these folks and I try to pay attention to who I buy from, where it is from and where it goes. Next time I will look for Alaffia!

Shauna West says …

I am recently becoming more and more aware of the opportunities to buy product that is free trade. I have been researching Alaffia in particular, desparately trying to find a product that is safe for my skin, and am so encouraged that it is also good for the dignity and justice of people whom I will never meet. I currently, have been repurposing containers/furniture and products within my home. I would like to continue to make more educated purchases as well as educating my friends (and have been) as I make new discoveries!

suzanne says …

I prefer to purchase goods from local suppliers but I also love to buy goods from people who are working in their communities to make a better life for their children and extended families. I would be fun to share these products with friends and let them know the good that is coming from this community program.

Amanda S. says …

I work at Kroger's and I just recently started buying Whole Food Products. I made the transition because of my allergies. I love the fact that the products are chemical-free.

Kathryn says …

I pay attention to the packaging, ingredients, and origin of the products I purchase in order to make better choices not just for me but ultimately all of us

Melissa Coy says …

I haven't ever used the products but I love to shop at places that I feel very strongly about because I know they really do care about the community and that is how I feel about Whole Foods. Thank you for inspiring people to do more like in this story.

vilte says …

My heart goes out to these women. I hope that in some way, although it may not be much, my purchase can help contribute towards helping the Togolese communities one person at a time.

Jon hannis says …

Just comment to win... I really like the idea behind the products. Keep up the good work

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