Monday, June 29, 2015

Changing Lives with Fair Trade Friday

For several years now I have been praying for Mercy House, a maternity home in Kenya for pregnant and teenage moms. The girls who are brought to Mercy House have all become pregnant as a result of rape or because of forced prostitution. They come from tragic and heartbreaking situations, but at Mercy House they find hope and support. It has been a joy to watch the countenance of these girls change as they are rescued out of poverty and as they come to know Jesus. What a transformation! Through pictures I have seen the joy that begins to light up their eyes when they live in a safe place and find hope in Christ.

Today I want to tell you the story of Pauline, one of the first residents of Mercy House. I also want to tell you about Fair Trade Friday, a new ministry of Mercy House and a fun way that YOU can help to change lives around the world.

This is Pauline. When she was 15 years old she became pregnant through force. She was desperate and hopeless. Mercy House rescued her, gave her a home, medical care, good nutrition, education, and taught her from the Bible. They showed her the love of Christ, and the Gospel has changed her life. As a result of the work of Mercy House and the grace and mercy of Christ, Pauline and her son, Melvin, are doing well today.

Pauline has now graduated from the Mercy House program and is attending vocational beauty school. Her son is able to attend school as well because of sponsorship. While at Mercy House, Pauline learned how to make many different types of crafts, and she is now passing on that knowledge to moms in the slums. Each week she goes into the slum and teaches these women. The crafts that they make are sold through Fair Trade Friday, and the money these moms make from their crafts is able to pay for food, school fees, and rent. Their needs are being met because Pauline is teaching them useful skills, and Mercy House is selling their crafts.

Only a few years ago Pauline was hopeless, but now she knows Jesus, and she has hope! Her life has been transformed, and now she is reaching out and making a difference in the lives of others. Pauline is a good mom and teacher, and her future is full of potential.

In August of last year, Mercy House launched a new ministry that enables them to help even more women in poverty around the world. This new ministry is called Fair Trade Friday. It is something unique and special and fun that you will want to be part of!

Fair Trade Friday is a membership club that delivers one-of-a-kind fair trade products to your home each month. By joining Fair Trade Friday, you help to provide jobs and dignity for women in poverty. You remind them that they are not forgotten, that their work matters, and that they matter.

Mercy House partners with Christian organizations in procuring fair trade products, so when you support Fair Trade Friday you aren’t just helping to provide a job for those in need, you are partnering with organizations that will share with their workers the love of Jesus. We can empower marginalized women by providing jobs, but only the grace of God can transform lives, and that is why Mercy House works with Christian organizations in their Fair Trade Friday ministry.

Here is a glimpse of just a few of the artisans at work around the world as they make products for Fair Trade Friday:

Women in the Middle East making jewelry

An Ethiopian woman creating beautiful products

An Ethiopian woman making paper beads

 Women in Zambia sewing bags

A woman in Ethiopia spins thread from sheep's wool.

Another woman uses the thread to weave fabric.

The fabric is then made into little bags.

Kristen Welch, founder of Mercy House, tells about buying bracelets from an artisan in Kenya:
Probably one of the most profound moments for me was in a mud home in Kenya talking with a woman we were buying paper bead bracelets from for a Fair Trade Friday box. She grabbed my hands and squeezed them tight. She looked me straight in the eyes and said, "Tell the women in America that we need them to keep buying what we make. Tell them it is feeding my son and two daughters. Tell them not to forget us." I will spend the rest of my life reminding these marginalized women they are not forgotten.

The work of Fair Trade Friday is important. It isn't simply providing a food and money for those in need. It is providing meaningful work and restoring dignity. It is providing an avenue through which the Gospel can be introduced to those who might otherwise never hear it.

Do you want to be a part of Fair Trade Friday? It isn't just important; it is fun too! You receive unique fair trade products once a month, and 100% of the proceeds go to the artisans around the world. There are two monthly subscription options. 

One is the Earring of the Month club. This is a subscription membership that costs $11.99 per month, and you get a new pair of earrings each month! Each package comes with a small fair trade gift bag for you to use if you choose to give the earrings away as a gift.

The other option is the original Fair Trade Friday box. It comes with 3-4 high quality fair trade items for $31.99 a month. I have received a few of these packages, and they are amazing! I love reading about the different products, seeing where they were made, and praying for the women who made them. There is currently a waiting list for the monthly Fair Trade Friday box. If you want to join this Fair Trade Friday club, please sign up to be on the waiting list! Having spots filled on the waiting list helps Fair Trade Friday to plan ahead for orders with their artisan groups. When they are able to add more club members, you will receive an email letting you know that you can sign up and officially join the club!

If you want to try out Fair Trade Friday, but don't want to commit to a monthly subscription, you can try a Fair Trade Friday One-Time Trial Box.

If you are interested in buying specific fair trade items, you can check out the Mercy House Shop here for beautiful and unique products!

Please come back here on Wednesday because there is more that I want to share about Fair Trade Friday! I want to tell you about a special coin purse and the story behind it. I will also be showing you pictures of the items I have received through Fair Trade Friday this year so that you can get an idea of what comes in the packages each month. And! There may be a giveaway. :) So come back on Wednesday for more Fair Trade Friday fun!

Images are courtesy of Mercy House and Fair Trade Friday.

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