How Fair Trade Friday turns ashes into beauty

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

to proclaim freedom for the captives

and release from darkness for the prisoners…

to comfort all who mourn, 

and provide for those who grieve in Zion–

to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, 

the oil of gladness instead of mourning,

and a garment of praise instead of a Spirit of despair”  Isaiah 61: 1b-3a

When the words I’m trying to say or write don’t come easy,  I’m at a loss.  Talking (or writing) has never been my weakness (my poor mother!), but when I’m perfectly trying to craft what I want to say, nothing comes.  The perfectionism kills and I’m left with blank pages and blank stares.

So I’m going to hopefully use some of my own words and many of other’s words to tell you about something that is close to my heart.

woman with beads

Fair Trade Friday Club is a ministry of Mercy House Kenya.  You may not have heard of either, but maybe you’ve heard of Kristen Welch, whose popular blog, “We are THAT family” has over 100,000 Likes on Facebook.  Kristen began a mommy blog as a outlet after having children.  Then, back in 2010 she was chosen by Compassion International to travel to Kenya and blog about her experiences as a way to raise awareness for the cause.  This is where I came in (No one knew I was there, but myself) and I began following Kristen’s blog.  I was knee-deep in reading Radical and Crazy Love and reading Kristen’s thoughts, a mom also interested in International Missions, seemed like the next step.

Fast Forward to May 2014 and I’m sitting in a Washington D.C. hotel room waiting for my youngest to take her nap and reading the words of Kristen’s book, Rhinestone Jesus.  As I had been for the past 4 years, I was wrestling with what this all means.  We aren’t saved by works, but as believers in Christ we should be driven to good works.  How can I as “just a mom” of these 3 little ones be a catalyst for change?  How can I help women and children in far off lands without hopping on a plane or selling all I own to give me?

Kevin DeYoung may clear that all up for us in his post “Getting to the Root of Radical” (which Kristen quotes in her book).

The Christian needs to be generous, but generous charity is not the answer to the world’s most pressing problems of hunger, inadequate medical care, and grinding poverty. Wealth is created in places where the rule of law is upheld, property rights are secured, people are free to be entrepreneurs, and there is sufficient social capital to encourage risk-taking. We can and should do good with our giving. But we must not lead people to believe that most of human suffering would be alleviated if we simply gave more.

Giving is a beautiful act of worship.  I’m grateful that God has called us to financially support different ministries… but beyond sending a check every month, as DeYoung points out, the real way to nullify poverty is create businesses and self-sufficiency. 

Again I find myself asking-  How?  Where?

I could tell that Kristen was working that out in her book (written before Fair Trade Friday was started) when she wrote:

“I’ve been down the confusing and hard-to-follow road of trying to buy only fair-trade or secondhand clothes, among other things, I am not advocating boycotting clothes made in other countries, I am encouraging conscientious shopping.”

I’ve been there.  When it feels like solely buying fair trade is too expensive, and buying only used is nearly impossible.  It seems like nothing can be 100% holy or sweat-shop free so instead we (I) throw in the towel and head back to Target Dollar Spot and load up on more worthless junk.

How do we capture consumerism and still help women in the process?

fair trade change lives

Fair Trade Friday is a monthly membership club that delivers high-quality fair traded items directly to your door.  Not only do the items provide employment to women all over the world, they are really cute!  They currently have two clubs- the Fair Trade Friday Club which is 3-4 items that come once a month (for 31.99/month) or the Earring of the Month Club ($11.99/month) where you receive one pair of earrings every month!  Both make great gifts, re-gifting just became a social cause :).   The other option is a one-time box which can be used as a trial or as a gift.

FTF collage

I was sent these beautiful crocheted earrings to try and was impressed by the quality and the color.  They look great with so many things!  Even the packaging seems exclusive and inserted is a business card that tells you where the item was made.  As shown above, my earrings were made by a refugee in Houston, TX.

If you need any more reason to support Fair Trade Friday, check out what a Kenyan artisan told Kristen the last time she visited:

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Fair Trade Friday is now helping women sell their goods and help feed their families in 18 countries worldwide.  As Kristen says, “Your YES matters.”  Will you be a part of someone’s story today?

wear a story

Remember, you can sign up for the Fair Trade Friday Club or the Earring of the month club HERE.

And learn more from Kristen herself HERE

(Disclaimer:  I was given one free pair of earrings from Fair Trade Friday.  All opinions are my own!)

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