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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

Roberta Fulton says …

Give a person a fish - that helps his/her hunger, teach a person how to fish - that helps many. By supporting these products, we enable these people to help themselves, change their living conditions, empower them. I think that is key. The fact that the products are wonderful is a bonus.

Melissa Zhang says …

I think knowing stories like this is the first step towards making a lifestyle change towards supporting eco-conscious companies with this depth of care in their product and their projects.

Tracy Dietz says …

Helping women is one of my passions-especially with finances for peace of mind! Also, women know what kind of products we love.

RC says …

I have always been drawn to buy products that do good beyond their benefit to me; I see that as a win-win. I admire companies that give back to communities or, in the case of Alaffia, help support the community itself. I think it is critical that consumers think about where their dollars are going and what kind of system they are supporting rather than looking solely at price or convenience. Often there are alternatives that actually don't cost much more, and the few pennies or extra effort, such as cooking whole foods rather than processed foods - are worth it.

Diana says …

These are wonderful products and I appreciate helping the community with my purchases!

Mountain Girl says …

I recently learned the story of Project Zola and sampled the acai juice at my local Whole Foods. It's encouraging to know that many of the products that Whole Foods offers do help change the world, and that I can help by purchasing those products instead of others.

Cheryl T says …

Wow! That is really inspiring to see how this has helped improve the lives of women, their children, and their communities. We take so much of our privileged daily lives for granted. It's great to know that using these products can help people. I love to purchase sustainable fair trade products knowing that the people who produce them make a living wage. We try everyday to reduce, reuse, recycle!

Brittney Henderson says …

I loved reading this post and it just further inspires me to make mindful purchases. I'm going to buy things- so why not make purchases for a cause that help others and improve the world? That is an idea I can get behind!

Joy says …

I buy all my products from Whole Foods as Whole Foods carry products that are natural,safe and effective and good for me and my family.In addition to this reason I try to buy products from Whole foods as Whole Foods Market supports the products that promote sustainable farming and fair trade which is good for environment,health and communities worldwide.I think my purchases from Whole foods not only satisfy me 100% it also helps me support many communities working hard to bring to us the wonderful natural and safe products that are 100% worry free to use!

Stephanie Vesik says …

Everyday I choose how I spend my money, taking into consideration my economics and my community. Shop local first, global second. Shop homemade, artisan, or cottage industry first and large scale production second. This can occasionally cost a bit more but is worth it knowing I'm doing my part to keep my friends and neighbors employed.

Sarah Johnston says …

Knowing how some big box stores control governments and even environments keeps me from shopping there. An inexpensive piece of salmon from Walmart may be destroying an entire ecosystem...not worth it. Even if it means a few more dollars for me, I will always go to the locally owned businesses. I will soon buy a used car to replace my 10 year old car; it is not necessary for something to be shiny and new to get the job done. When shopping for gifts I tend to chose experiences rather than items that may end up in the landfill... for example a massage that will not result in waste.

Kate says …

I like to buy products that allow individuals to sustain themselves and their families.

Julie says …

I try to buy fairly traded coffee and chocolate when I can. A fair price to a farmer is social justice at it's finest.

Catherine says …

I buy things that will be healthy for my husband, myself, and our son. I also donate non-perishable food items to our church to feed the hungry in our community.

karyn h says …

I try to buy local products whenever I can and I try to recycle whatever I can. I buy in bulk and store in re-usable containers. My friends and I re-purpose many items. What one of them thinks is of no use any more, maybe I or another friend can make something new out of it. We all volunteer where we can and grow fruits and vegetables to use and to donate to the food banks. That basket of goodies looks amazing!

Bianca says …

These products are so wonderful! I use them on my face, my hair, and my body. This is such a beautiful story and really makes me feel good about my purchase. It is important for me to buy fair trade and local products whenever possible because of stories like this.

tess scanlon-phillip says …

I use products to help support the local community in which I live, Colorado. We support the Children's Hospital and many programs within the Hospital each year. Your products make us healthier, thus being able to have energy to give back to our community.

Corine says …

Following my standards I make an effort to buy fair trade produced items, (local) organic items, and cruelty-free products. It is important to me that my children learn the ethic behind products that are being put on the market so hearing the story behind the product produced by your company is great as it learns the children so much about where products come from and what actually needs to be done before they see it on a shelf in their store.

Gail Altimari says …

When I need plants or seeds I seek out local non profit nature centers...........When I need food I seek sustainable local food products and eat to the seasons and grow what I can....When I need body products or hygiene products I look for natural products with a conscience.. this way consuming seems less like a drain and more of a stable pond that we can all draw from........

Solstice says …

Honestly, I had no knowledge or interest in this product, but when I saw a chance to "win a free basket of body care products" I gave the pic a click :-) Now that I have read these amazing stories and realize how "my purchasing power & choices" can positively effect a wonderful community, I am willing to give Alaffia a try - whether I win the gift basket or not. Thank-you for enlightening us about the positive work of EveryDay Shea. It's yet another reason why I am proud to shop at Whole Foods !

Jamaica Wells says …

As a parent the best way I make my purchases benefit the world is by teaching my kids the importance of natural foods and recycling. Reusable bags, recycling at home, purchasing fair trade, local products and items made from recycled materials are positive habits that I am glad to pass on to my children.

Nomi says …

I will gladly purchase goods for a higher price if they are fair trade.

Tammy B. says …

I love humanitarian efforts! I have traveled to southern India, and it is amazing to compare our two countries. It seems to me that Americans gather plenty of "stuff" - from packaging to oversized cars (sorry, SUV owners!). The people I met in India are thankful & joyful for what little they have - food, clothing, shelter, each other. I would love to see that same attitude of gratitude come here. :-) Purchasing products to support like this is a win-win for me.

Toni Price says …

I will purchase the Alaffia body care products in hopes that my purchase would help support the families in Togo. It's great to see women take pride in the things they do and the difference they make in peoples lives.

Dawn Scire says …

I now check to see if products are 'fair trade' so that ALL people are fairly compensated for their work. I appreciate the work of people/organizations that implement these standards. btw, LOVE the Alaffia pure shea, too! It's amazing. :)

Laura says …

This is a wonderful example of how our purchasing choices can make a positive impact! I love supporting local farmers as well as fair-trade products, and buying in bulk as well. I'll keep my eye out for these products in my next trip to Whole Foods.

Janice Daniels says …

I try very hard to buy fair trade whenever I can!

pat jackson says …

I love shopping at Whole Foods and I'm so glad they have such a commitment to global well being.

Cindy W. says …

I did not know that my purchases could help so many. I will think more in the future about what I will buy.

morningsong says …

I try to always keep my values in mind when shopping. It is important to me that my money support the causes that improve and enhance life, causing harm to none.

Mary Wattenbarger says …

I realy enjoy this product on it's own but knowing that it helps a community is an added benefit. We as a family our very selective with our purchaces. My 10 year old daughter because of products such as these understands the meaninging of fair trade as well as GMO and has been able to pass her knowledge on to her peers. Products such a shea not only helps their community but the world as well one person at a time.

joan weimer says …

i like to shop locally to support local grassroots businesses, and shop globally to support cottage industries and the impowerment of women, and indigenous cultures.

Mary Rediger says …

I use my purchases to help change the world by buying local organic products whenever I can to support local organic farmers.

Debbie Quintal says …

Everyday Shea products surperb skincare plus the benefit of helping these beautiful people less fortunate just by making Whole Food purchases. A concept to help myself and people half way around the world! Love Peace and Happiness

Jennifer B says …

I believe in speaking with my wallet. I buy products that I know support a sustainable, healthy lifestyle. The fewer people between the production/materials and the end consumer, the more impact purchase has on supporting fair trade values and community. I also find that fair trade and cooperative products are very high quality. I just bought the Alaffia Everyday Shea Butter shower gel in Vanilla Mint, and I love it! It smells great and is really moisturizing.

Jenna says …

I try, whenever possible, to buy organic foods and fair-trade items. I also keep my eye out for environment-sustaining, and culture-sustaining purchases, which would benefit the people in those communities. I also often buy vegan, which is a lifestyle that is easier on the environment than supporting meat and dairy farming.

edith rae brown says …

How simple it is to purchase a wholesome product and know that by doing that we are touching others lives. Having purpose is the need for everyone and making that possible is a win - win for everyone. Knowing how much each purchase makes a difference is very heartwarming. Thank you for making that possible and helping others change their lives and lives of their families.

Dena says …

I can still be involved in helping others, while I am still land locked in Tarzana :)

M. Foster says …

Though small effects, I chose to make efforts to buy items with a smaller carbon footprint and less packaging. I try to reuse my own bags when buying bulk - and when a product I need is like something listed above, I try to opt for the product with the most positive impact.

Jeanne says …

I try to buy fair trade products. I buy in bulk to save on packaging. I recycle and compost.

kfidd says …

i very conscious of how buying can affect communities so i try to purchase local whenever possible - farmers markets to support local growers/producers, locally-owned stores and restaurants as opposed to big box/chains. i also support the co-op efforts of impoverished communities to help them improve their economic situation and their lives.

Kim Bradford says …

I like to buy stuff that helps people

Karen says …

My children (ages 9 and 4) and I actively work to reuse and recycle everything we can from our purchases. Sometimes the kids even come up with a new way to reuse something that I would never have considered. I am hoping that this is building a legacy that they will carry forward throughout their lives and help them gain an understanding that even the smallest of actions can have a meaningful impact.

Michele Sanchez says …

We are all connected.

Cecelia says …

We try to use biodegradable or recyclable products (such as from reuseit.com) and purchase food products in eco-friendly packaging and from local growers whenever possible. I have gotten my husband to start using reusable shopping bags, and we now have a composter. Next will be a rain barrel to water our garden! Supporting free-trade companies as well as organizations that provide work and income to single mothers world-wide is also a great way to make a difference.

Natalie says …

Buying a product that benefits those in need makes me feel better about my purchase. Being a mom I usually feel guilty about buying myself anything but knowing something I buy is helping others makes me feel better about spending the money on myself. Not only will I be happy but hopefully the ones being helped are much happier to. I give all that I can and have taught my son to give as well. During the holidays he makes sure he has change in his pockets to give to the Salvation Army bell ringers everytime we go to the store. So Yes, I feel alot better when I give so when I see a company giving it makes it alot easier to splurge.

penni says …

I make an effort to support local and organic farmers and to buy food and other products which are free of chemicals and excess packaging. I also support companies which do not use animal testing of their products.

Chrissy says …

This is yet another reason I love Wholefoods. I know that when I buy, I am giving back. I am making purchases that are helping sustain the planet and nourish people too! This is a heart warming and absolutely wonderful story and example of people coming alongside others in need and DOING something. This is a product(s) I can support. Thanks Wholefoods for the update!

Maya says …

I like to buy products that help others and choose my purchases based on this.

Jean Vehanen says …

I love the Shea body lotion and appreciate the opportunity to be globally responsible for my neighbors and make their life a little better.

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