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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

Samantha Salerno says …

I am pleased to say that my family and I shop at whole because we know that 5% of the money I spend goes to local and non local charities therefore helping to change the world!

Susan V. says …

Every time I spend my money I try to think who and what I am supporting and tend to match my spending to my ethics. It can be a bit daunting and exhausting but at the end of the day I sleep well remembering that I'm doing my part in making the world a better and more just place.

oksana kovalenko says …

I try to buy from companies that donate % of their ptofits.

Kelly says …

I love these products and I love Whole Foods!

Peg says …

Taking Baby Steps - There is so much information out there and the problems in the world are so many it just boggles the mind so when I do my big shopping I try to add at least one product where the profits help someone else. (It can also be a product from a company that has proven they donate even a percentage of their profits to the 'greater good'.) I also nonchalantly let my family know so they can join in 'the movement'...It's all about 'baby steps'...!

Channa Norman says …

When purchasing any product I always look for the value it adds back into a community, example if a Dish Soap gives back $1.00 to Ocean Animal Rescue efforts or dog food donates to rescued animals, I try and purchase those products because to me it is the simplest and easiest form of giving to a great cause and is much more then just fulfilling our immediate needs.

Nancy Purifoy says …

I support businesses that carry local and sustainable, and am especially motivated to buy products that help the disadvantaged.

Linda S. Hall says …

By purchasing products from worthy organizations, I am supporting their business and not contributing to those who just want to make a profit without regard the welfare of the producers or end-users.

kristen says …

I hope my purchases of gifts open up people to the natural choices out there.

Renee Turner says …

I only buy fair trade products and try to buy as many local products. I also only purchase products that have ingredients that are not tested on animals.

valerie says …

These women are so beautiful. And their beauty shows in their work.

Carole Ann R. says …

I like to support purchases that help others in their lives. I really appreciate natural products as they generally do not adversely affect the environment. We are all placed on earth to be of service to others whether they are our neigbors near or far since we are all a part of one nation/universe under God.

Kevin says …

i buy locally when possible. always buy responsibly, like buying direct trade coffee. knowing the story behind a company and their practices is also one way of being a conscious consumer.

colleen gilgenbach says …

I know that what I buy and where I spend my money makes a difference so I pay attention.

K. Foy says …

I love the Alaffia bodycare line - great for my skin and reasonably priced.

Karen says …

This is a win-win situation. Great product that helps me and my family while at the same time helping women and their families across the oceans! Our global concerns are the same! Our maternal desires for our children are the same! These cooperatives and micro-enterprises across the world are what will lead to peace and greater equal division of the world's riches.

Jenna says …

I buy fair trade and organic when I can. I support businesses that include social and ecological responsibility in their business plan. I love Whole Foods' Earth University Bananas; not only is it a great program, but the bananas taste so much better than even other organic bananas. Learning more about where my food comes from has made me more conscious of the supply chain of other products I buy, like clothes, furniture, and cosmetics. There are so many products to choose from that it's hard to know what the stories are behind each brand. Thanks for the timely info on another one I would love to support--I'm almost out of hand cream.

Marie says …

I buy products that help the world by shopping at places like Whole Foods. I know they carefully select what items we have to choose from, which in turn helps me help others. Thanks!

Lisa says …

This article is my introduction to the Alaffia products. It would be wonderful to try them, and share with others- explaining the benefits that benefit the community who create them. Fair trade and fair to share.

tatiana says …

go gift baskets, go grrreeen world!

Alex says …

Good Deal! My purchases sustain people much more than corporations. I like this and I like taking care of the earth that my products come from. No more plastics, pesticides, chemicals, dyes ar artificial ingred. These things are not sustainable.

Genia says …

Each person CAN make a difference and together we CAN change the world. Personally I am very selective in choosing what I purchase and choosing where I purchase. Choosing to purchase Alaffia body care products means choosing to support creative partnerships that help change the economic picture for a society that is learning to create sustainability. Choosing to shop at a store that brings the stories of these partnerships and the products these partnerships produce to consumers means I am supporting an important part of the chain that leads to change. Good value is created all around.

Heidi says …

I try to buy local fruit and veggies to support the farmers. I buy wood and cloth hand made toys to keep my baby health and safe while supporting others. I do my best to shop places that give back to other communities like the one here.

Stasi says …

I am proud to buy fair trade, organic and local products, in particular those products which go on my and my children's skin and wash down the drain.

Kim says …

I try to purchase local.

linda says …

I buy only local, organic product. I do not waste any food: only use recycle shopping bags.

brittany says …

I love these products, it is the only lotion.body wash I can find that doesn't irritate my sons skin.

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.

Lindsey Carothers says …

I love this product! It's amazing.

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!

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.

Ally says …

I try to buy locally produced products and eco-friendly products as much as I can.

Angie says …

I try to buy local products whenever possible and I always try to buy reusable/recyclable products.

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.

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! :)

michele vollmer says …

I make every effort possible to buy eco-friendly products. I think about the waste that is created by the product I am buying. I consider whether is can be recycled or not. I also, try not to buy anything that would be toxic to myself as well as the enviornment.

Ashley Stefan says …

I think cooperatives are one of the best ways that people (women especially) can elevate themselves to the level where they may support their families, and finally attempt to make a change. What an inspiring article! And an incentive to buy this product line.

Denise Barreto says …

I am humbled that my small seemingly insignificant purchase can make this much difference in the lives of people so far away from my comfortable life. Thanks for these stories -

Susan (Oliepants) says …

I think the major contribution I make is to know where my product comes from. I try to buy products (esp beauty products) that's not tested on animals and fair-trade regulated. What is beauty worth if it means not paying someone adequately for the work they did or not treating the environment with respect for what it and its inhabitants give to me.

Lan Freitag says …

I like knowing the products that I use are natural, cruelty-free, and coming from real people (local and sustainable). I can feel really good about my purchases. I think Whole Foods does an extraordinary job of vetting these types of products/businesses. Kudos to you!

Christina Burton says …

When I bought my first bottle of Everyday Shea last week, all I knew was that I was making a contribution to my life's longevity by promoting an all-natural clean hair routine. I had no clue that the product impacted the lives of all of these women who are trying to take care of their families and themselves. BIG UPS TO THEM FOR JOINING AN ORGANIZATION THAT CHALLENGES THE MAN-MADE SLAUGHTER OF OUR GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT!

Jutta says …

I would love to gift this basket to my valentine!

Ryan Solomon says …

I support local organizations like these by buying these products.

Davette Martin says …

I haven't of this line of products but would love the opportunity to try it.

Stacey says …

They're great products and I like knowing that my purchase can help others-- I don't want to just buy anything when I know the good that this is doing.

Lori W. says …

Wonderful products for a wonderful cause. I love that I'm putting something natural on my skin and nothing is more natural than helping out our fellow man. It's a no brainer and a win win. I make purchases and always choose, eco-friendly, small business, animal-friendly, pro-human products whenever possible. I also give these products as gifts to family and friends who then say, "Where did you get that lotion or shampoo? I want to get some more!" Those little decisions grow good businesses, shrink bad ones and create positive change in the marketplace...when we all make these decisions positive change happens faster, so keep up promotions like these. We need more responsible purchasers! : )

Kristyn Waters says …

This is such a wonderful story. I think it is absolutely wonderful that these women were able to find work without having to leave their community. I always try to consider where my products come from and how or by whom they were produced. However, this information is not always readily available, or such products often comes at a price that makes the purchase difficult to justify over less expensive, mass produced goods. After reading this article, I can certainly say my awareness about how I spend my dollars has been raised and I will be more apt to question a product's origin. I wish there were more product lines and organizations dedicated to endeavors like that created by EveryDay Shea in Togo. Thanks for sharing this story!

Olivia DiNucci says …

This is so inspiring and makes me want to continue not only Whole Foods but initiatives like this. More of these things needs to be published so the public sees the results of how small things can make a HUGE difference. This is beautiful!

Kristy says …

Its so wonderful to see how a product can help out a community. I try to make a conscious effort when it comes to my purchases!

William says …

I love the unscented version. It's also very affordable.

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