Abby (far left) and Tex (far right) with the ladies of Batsiranai from Zimbabwe

If you’ve been following our blog for the past couple of weeks, you’ve noticed that we’ve been posting about Tex and Abby’s recent direct buy trip to South Africa and Swaziland. They’ve been reporting back about the different craft groups that they visited with and the partnerships they developed while they were there. They even met longtime Global Exchange producer partners, Batsiranai, while the artisans were visiting South Africa from Zimbabwe. Recently, Tex sat down and put together an article of her reflections about the trip. They discovered a country with mounting tensions, an influx of immigrants, and a staggering HIV epidemic, but were inspired by local groups tackling these and other tough issues affecting marginalized communities throughout South Africa.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

With most of the craft groups we met with, it became evident that education, health care and a healthy diet were considered luxuries, and craft sales were their best hope for acquiring them. During one of our town-hall style meetings with a local craft cooperative, one member stood up and described the extent of poverty in her community, ending with the powerful statement “we are hungry.” Their leader was missing from the meeting due to illness. After a frank discussion, we reviewed the amazing beadwork jewelry the women brought as samples and talked numbers. Those were eye opening moments, and they re-affirmed my commitment to developing mutually beneficial trading partnerships where both sides stand to gain; for the crafters, their hard work can lead to generating the necessary income to improve their quality of life, and for fair trade importers, we can offer unique products to customers seeking ethically sourced goods.