Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Making a Difference One Starfish at a Time

I love the story of the boy and the starfish. It goes something like this:

A man walked a desolate beach one evening and saw a figure, far in the distance. As he grew nearer, he noticed that a young boy kept leaning down, picking something up and throwing it out into the water. Time and again, he kept hurling things out into the ocean. As the man approached even closer, he noticed that the boy was picking up starfish that had been washed up on the beach and, one at a time, he was throwing them back into the water. The man was puzzled. He approached the boy and asked, “What you are doing?"

"I'm throwing these starfish back into the ocean. You see, it is low tide right now and all of these starfish have been washed up onto the shore. If I don't throw them back into the sea, they'll die up here from lack of oxygen."

"I understand," the man replied, "but there must be thousands of starfish on this beach. You can't possibly get to all of them. There are simply too many. And don't you realize this is probably happening on hundreds of beaches all up and down this coast? Can't you see that you can't possibly make a difference?"

The boy smiled, bent down and picked up yet another starfish, and as he threw it back into the sea, he replied, "Made a difference to that one!"

I like to think that in some way I can be like the boy in the story. I’m overwhelmed by the complex challenges of poverty and injustice in the world. But in my own small way, I hope I can make a difference where I can, one person at a time.

That is why I am involved with Elevita. This online market place helps women and children find a way out of poverty. Elevita artisans gain self reliance through their own hard work with an internet market for their craftsmanship, paying fair market wages for their work. In addition, all profits from the sale of their work are returned to the villages and communities of these artisans in the form of aid to supporting the building of schools, clean drinking wells, medical clinics, and other humanitarian projects. Elevita is run entirely by volunteers, thus ensuring that your purchase not only pays fair wages to the artisan but returns all profit to their communities.

So a gift purchased from Elevita makes a big difference in the lives of each of the artisans we support. It is as simple as throwing a starfish back into the sea. We can all help make a difference one starfish at a time.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Summer of Discovery

Because part of our mission is to help artisans in developing countries find a greater world market for their products, here at Elevita we have spent the summer connecting with artisans we want to help. We have been impressed with the products we have discovered: breathtaking colors, comfortable cottons, luxurious silks, intricate prints, and incredible beads. But even more impressive than these products are the people who craft them. A few examples:

- The village women of Sandur who, after caring for their households and their children, spend the afternoons crafting fantastic beads from tree resin in order to help provide for their families

- The artisans of the Sheltered Workshop in Ghana, who persevere through their physical handicaps to produce jewelry of unparalleled quality

- The Barmer artisans, who work tirelessly to preserve the traditional Indian craft of block-printing, all while combating the difficulties of under-developed village life in the desert

Though each of our artisans has a different background with different skills, they all have one thing in common: they are grateful for the opportunity to find a greater market for their quality products so they can better provide for their families. Very soon we will launch our website, so the world can have access to these amazing products.