“SERRV is a nonprofit organization with a mission to eradicate poverty wherever it resides by providing opportunity and support to artisans and farmers worldwide.
At SERRV, every product has a true story behind it. These stories are uplifting. They are about freedom from poverty and achieving basic human rights, such as access to food, shelter, education, and basic health care. And they are stories about equality and dignity for all people.
For 63 years, SERRV has practiced core values that create positive change through lasting partnerships and trust. We believe in building environmental, economic, and social sustainability. We esteem culture traditions that nurture the human spirit. We aim for the highest quality of products and service, we invest in sharing information with those we serve, and we value our national network of volunteers who bring our mission to life.
SERRV works to eradicate poverty through our direct connections with low-income artisans and farmers. We market their crafts and foods, find joint solutions to their challenges, and help them grow and embrace the future. One of the first alternative trade organizations in the world, SERRV is a founding member of the World Fair Trade Organization (formerly IFAT) and a founding member of the Fair Trade Federation (FTF).”
We are pleased to introduce Dsenyo, a new fair trade line from Malawi. From their website:
Dsenyo, a growing company in the ethical fashion industry, aspires to empower a generation of African women and artisans eager to address the challenges facing their communities.
Dsenyo makes every effort to use low-impact dyes and sustainable fibers like jute, hemp and organic cotton where possible. We reduce waste by composting organic scrap material, and we re-purpose textile remnants for use in other products.
Where is Malawi?
Malawi is a small, densely populated country in Central Africa. It is located at the southern tip of the Great Rift Valley and is bordered by Mozambique, Zambia, and Tanzania. Some facts about Malawi:
- 14 million people
- 14% of the population living with HIV/AIDS
- Life expectancy only 43 yrs
- 80% of the population live as subsistence farmers
- Multi-party democracy since 1994
- Former British protectorate (not colony)
- National languages are Chichewa and English
- 1 in 10 children are expected to die under the age of 5
- Women have six children on average
- Malaria is still the #1 cause of death
- Only 50% of females are literate compared to 76% of males
Hope is written all over Malawi
- Fair Trade offers a real opportunity for marginalized people to get access to resources and viable markets
- Malawian women are creative, extremely hard working and eager to learn new skills
- Gender equality is making progress (Malawi has a female Vice President along with several female Members of Parliament)
- Awareness about how HIV/AIDS is transmitted and how to prevent infection is increasing
- Knowledge about family planning is improving
- Families increasingly value education for their daughters, wanting to send them to school and are only limited by lack of financial resource
“Steve Parks travels throughout Africa, creating Fair Trade opportunities that help support education and feeding of children in Mali, Kenya and other countries. The designs are made from recycled materials, so you can feel good, knowing you are helping the Earth as well as the artisans who made the pieces.”
I originally found these beautiful pieces at the Seattle Art Museum’s gift shop (or SAM Shop). I bought a few and was rewarded with lots of compliments and interest so I got in touch with the SAM Shop buyer, who told me about Steve Parks and the work he does in Africa. It is important to note that not only are these pieces beautiful and one of a kind, but they are also, in may cases, the only source of income for the people making them. The colors, designs and ingenuity in taking discarded materials and turning them into something beautiful are, to me, quintessentially African and we are happy to support them.
These beautiful cloth napkins are hand blocked by a womens’ cooperative in India
One of my personal favorite things we carry here at the Cordata store, these organic and fair trade certified cloth napkins are truly one of a kind. Marigold Fair Trade has a direct relationship with the womens’ cooperative in India that makes them, helping to alleviate poverty and provide liveable wages to disadvantaged women there. Cloth napkins are a great way to teach kids about not wasting napkins when they eat. The colors of these napkins stay vibrant even after washing on gentle cycle in the washing machine and they can be used over and over, bringing beauty to each meal.
“In a world where it is increasingly difficult to know the origins of the products we wear and consume, fair trade connects us to the people and stories behind the products. Fair Trade provides a viable alternative by upholding a trade system that values human dignity and sustainability. Marigold uses fabrics that are vegetable dyed and handblock printed to accent our naturally dyed organic cotton. Hand block printing is an age-old artisian tradition that dates back to the 12th century in India, but it is an art form that is dying due to mass produced manufacturing. We believe in honoring and celebrating the tradition of block printing to bring you products that are a work of art created by hand.”