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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

Lisa M Jones says …

i buy at whole foods but many other places too. the best i use my purchasing power for good is to really read up on what a company believes and where they put their profits. numbers don't lie. i am very loyal to companies (usually smaller but not necessarily) that have an honorable history and mission statement, who can DARE TO DREAM, actually grasp that it's more than the bottom line. for example, instead of going to the evil corporate Starbucks (the one on 14th st off 6th ave) for my coffee fix, i go right across the street to the MOST AMAZING place called Bourbon which supports Rwandan causes. the key here is to put your money in a good place. i find it's easy when it's something you were doing anyways, just using a mindset of making a difference by your choices of where you purchase. i get all my coffee at Bourbon and if everyone else did, the corporate giants would eventually listen because sadly this world runs on money. just think. put your $$ where your heart is.

Paula says …

I love the idea of empowering women in other communities with the purchase of their products. When the women are empowered, it helps their families as well as the families of other women in their communities.

Darcye says …

Love to buy more organics and naturals We try to eat a lot of vegetarian meals. The beef we do eat is grass fed whenever possible and local I love knowing where our food comes from

kate says …

Amazing how a product can support a whole community!!!

Daniela Walls says …

I like the idea that in a society like ours, we vote with our purchases, and what we buy or abstain from buying determines greatly the policies that corporations implement, and the charities that are helped. I therefore prefer buying products that I know have a positive social impact on the planet.

Elizabeth Speck says …

I try to buy fair trade products as much as I can and to buy from producers who use sustainable methods for farming, etc. and I try to buy "green products."

Anne says …

Such a great company that actually makes wonderful and effective products!

Trisha Wagh says …

I'm constantly supportive of corporations that support sustainability! Great Job

Sheryl says …

Togo is a country dear to my heart. I worked in the Linguistics Department at a prominent university in the U.S. and became great friends with a student from Togo pursuing a Ph.D. His intelligence, fortitude and desire to earn his degree and return to Togo to not only help his family and children, but village, was so inspiring to me. To read about the Everyday Shea project taking place in Togo only confirms for me it is a country with a wealth of spirit and commitment to preserving and enhancing the land for harmonious prosperity. To know that Alaffia is a supporter of this process makes me a permanent customer.

Annie says …

Eating vegan is one way I contribute to changing the world. Buying fair trade goods is another. It would be lovely to win this gift basket filled with Alaffia body care products; I would tell everyone all about it and the work it supports.

Cindy Mattus says …

First, I admit I'm not very good at this, but I'm tring now. Now I pay attention to articles like this, and I will buy these products since they help a community and not just line the pockets of the rich , or politicians. Buying products like this will even in a small way help and support the purity of a product. Thank you

Katy Hall says …

The only people we are in charge of are ourselves. Keeping this in mind I also understand that the way we choose to live serves as an example of our responsibility to others and our planet. This helps remind me daily that I owe it to my planet and the people on it to be a responsible and educated consumer. I choose products that seek to benefit the environment and the communities they work alongside of. If we learn to cooperate with one another then companies will seek to cooperate with us as well.

Jené says …

This just shows why it is so important to be aware of a company's history and their policies. Every purchase I make impacts so much more than my life, my heart feels better knowing I can help others.

Portia says …

I try to purchase fair trade products that are sourced from indigenous populations as much as possible.

Cortney Kelman says …

What a great story!!

Andrea says …

I try to buy local, seasonal products.

Lisa Brown says …

My choices every day affect the quality of lives of others. Consumers have a responsibility to be aware of where dollars are spent from the top down to the producers. Whole Foods remains transparent and committed to local and global initiatives that support indigenous and natural growth both economically and ecologically. I appreciate knowing the individual stories of the people behind the products imported for sale at While Foods.

Katie says …

I had already fallen in love with these products, but reading firsthand accounts of the positive work is amazing. I will continue to use them while working with a new non-profit, projectWater, and think of all the good that people can do when we work together!

Ruth Jones says …

I am simply agast. I had no idea that buying these products and helping these women made their husbands respect them more! It was wonderful that you help so many kids but I never thought of how it would make a man feel towards his wife.

Deb Subotnik says …

I make every effort to purchase items that will make the world a better place, starting with my two young girls. If I can make them better world citizens, its the 1st step in making the world a better place.

Amanda says …

Beautiful story. Wish every product I buy could have some positive imapct.

christa r says …

Great work and glad to support it!! Thanks WF!

Mindy McAuley says …

I eat very low on the food chain, and go for items with minimal packaging, organic where possible. Fair trade is also really important to me in making selections.

Jenn says …

I look at the products and choose what is the most eco-friendly, local, fair trade product available and choose that product over the others. I think that every little decision we make helps, so if my purchases help sustain us locally or somewhere in the world that is the better choice.

Carrie Scott says …

I love these products. They work great and make a difference in so many lives. That's why I love to shop at Whole Foods! I can be confident the products I buy are helping so many and not hurting others or the planet. Thank you, Whole Foods! :)

michelle austin says …

i purchased a number of Feed 100 bags and gave them out as christmas gifts

Zee says …

I have recently been buying only products that benefit somebody. It does get expensive though but it's worth it!

Christy J says …

Unless you've been brought up in a home that lives those beliefs or have been blessed enough to be exposed to it another way, we in America tend to be stuck in a consumer rut perpetuated by the news media, advertising, etc. to a shameful point. My journey to learn a better way of life began when I was pregnant and wondered about the best way to go about supporting true health and wellness. My children all have food allergies, and we love Whole Foods for all the options we find for them there. I continue to support the ideals of personal responsibility, awareness of how to live sustainable and generous lives to not keep the health and wellness to ourselves but spread it, recycling, and reducing waste as well as eating whole, nutritious foods. I will be speaking to some parents at my son's school about how to use diet to influence learning and behavior. I love supporting local producers and retailers who practice the ideals we share. Personally, I think it's a true shame that the majority of people are uninformed about the importance of pure, high quality products (and foods)that invigorate our bodies and spirits without heavy costs to the world as a whole. Frankly, every company should do things that way. This is a beautiful story of how we can all benefit from doing what we know best and being open to learning how to make that work for the good of all while eliminating or minimizing negative impact. I would love to share the basket and the story of its products with a women's shelter for abused women who need a lift to their spirits and bodies!

Traci says …

I will not purchase any other body wash than the Everyday Shea. My family has a lot of skin issues and we have never once had a problem since we started to use Everyday Shea. I love the product because it is an excellent product, but I also love knowing my purchase helps others in a place not as fortunate as where I live. I believe my dollar is a vote in how I want to world to be. I vote everyday to keep toxins out of the earth, give small companies with integrity my business, and live in a world with compassion. I believe if everyone thought hard about what they spend their money on, we could make a real difference.

Anna Bryan says …

I make a conscious effort to only purchase beauty products in recyclable packaging. I recently discovered the Alaffia line at Whole Foods. The shea butter baby balm is the only product I have ever found that heals my toddler's chapped cheeks overnight. It is an excellent, high-quality and affordable line. I will tell my friends.

Adrian r says …

I try to purchase products that give back to the land they originated in. Everyone wins this way.

Emily Grossi says …

As often as possible, I buy products directly from their makers (farmer's markets, sites like Etsy, etc) and research new products before purchase to see how they are created: is the land used to grow crops treated with respect and care, or doused in pesticides? Are the growers paid a fair wage? Are they and their products valued or treated as nameless commodities? Products like Alaffia benefit the community making them, make the world a healthier place, and enable consumers to keep away from toxins. I have shifted as much as possible to consuming/financing only products that are making this world a better place, especially for the people who inhabit it!

Victoria Worley says …

I teach my daughter about purchases that help mother earth. I believe teaching kids as young as possible will help change the world for the better. It is then only hope our planet has. Glad that this purchase helps to continue that way of thinking by teaching in Togo.

Sara Haaf says …

How awe-inspiring! Very awesome!

Shannon says …

I carry a little bottle of Alaffia with me in my purse, everywhere I go, and refill from the big container whenever I'm running low. People ask about my lotion, and I am delighted to explain Alaffia to them!

Mary says …

Knowing that buying these products is helping people in need is motivation enough to want to buy them. It is an added bonus that they are also wonderful, high quality products!

Gabriela Ortiz says …

I realize that I cannot travel abroad to help those in need or to buy my necessities but I can still help developing communities. I enjoy purchasing anything from someone I know vs picking something of the shelf from a company that I don't know that created products from a machine. If i know who made the product and how they made it, it makes it mire personnal to me. Additionally, if make even the smallest purchases of products that I would normally buy and help a family in another part of the world, I think it is great.

Andrea Carano says …

I would love to try out these products and start buying them to support this great cause!

Jessica R says …

I try to shop whole fresh foods and try to cut down on the demand for packaged foods and I recycle religiously any packing that I do take home. I try to bring my own bags for purchases and re-use and plastic containers I happen to get (milk jugs for old oil). I use each bit of the food I buy either by eating it all or composting leftovers, donating the dry/canned things I dont use to a food pantry so someone else can ues it. I like to shop local and when there are items that donate to charity (i.e. a $15 cd to help toward Katrina rebuild) if I can help, I do.

Shellie says …

I try very hard to purchase local products to support the community and when I buy from stores I look for Fair Trade Teas and Coffees. Buying products that support communities, here or abroad, is just one small way we impact each other's lives.

Tara W. Dabney says …

I would LOOVE this basket.

cyndi says …

I trust Whole Foods and their efforts to help those in need. I think it is short of a mini miracle that we can go into a supermarket chain and expect and be delivered true organic, natural quality products. I rarely feel the need to read the labels while in wholefoods and that is a small blessing compared to what so many others in Togo have to think about. Yet, Whole Foods intervention truly makes a difference in two ways. Thank you to the women and Whole Foods!

Carmen says …

The beauty and determination of these people both break my heart and inspire me to never stop trying to make our world better. There is such suffering in the world but we can not let ourselves become overwhelmed by or indifferent to the struggles of our fellow human beings. Thank you, Whole Foods, for sharing this story.

Jean M says …

I've used Alaffia since the beginning, and shared the message and products with love and enthusiasm! Their Mission of love and prosperity touches all and makes the world and its people what God intended!

Dorothy Chamberlin says …

We purchase mostly organic foods and foods that are grown by environmentally concerned farmers who provide fair trade products. We eat healthy foods so that we can be an example to others and so that we can convince them to be healthier and concerned about others health. We have to realize that the rest of the world does not eat the way Americans do and if they did, there would not be more than a few days of food for all of us. It is important to promote shopping in Whole Foods and Vitamin Cottage so that we maintain a healthy weight and avoid many illnesses. We are grateful for Whole Foods stores and are happy that our children in NJ, IL and NM all shop in Whole Foods.

Patrice Perry says …

This is a great product.

Karil May says …

I help bybuying locally produced products. I also help by buying fair trade products, and I love that Whole Foods has plenty of both to choose from. I also think it is completely awesome to be helping people around the globe using fair trade products. Thanks, K. May

Amber says …

I try to be conscious of the products I buy and really think about where they come from, how they were made and their impact on the environment. I try to support local businesses and give back to my community whenever possible.

Vic. says …

Hello, I am hoping by purchasing Alaffia and other fair trade products to help making sure people around the world are being paid fairly, being treated fairly and prosper. Regards, Vic.

Margaret Posh says …

We all must do our part -- that means not only becoming more aware of what we do and how it impacts people, however, taking action is the most important step. Buying products like this and others in the same "realm" give others a chance at a more enriched life -- I would pay more for that anyday.

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