Sunday, October 31, 2010

Thank you! (and please keep shopping)

A big shout out to the AWESOME customers who turned out this week to do some holiday shopping at the SHONA website and to help make it possible for the SHONA women to move into a new home. The women haven't moved yet and we are still trying to raising money for the deposit on their new home, but your purchases have made a huge difference and we really appreciate it! Thank you!

If you haven't yet stopped by the SHONA website, we hope you do sometime soon. We think you can find some great, meaningful holiday gifts, and to be honest, right now, your support is more meaningful than ever. The SHONA artisans face a lot of challenges these days, and yet they are working diligently to complete a wholesale order we received. They could use a little encouragement and support along the way, and truly what better way is there to celebrate the spirit of the holiday season?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Home for the Holidays

The SHONA women need to move. Their home, as pictured below, is about to be torn down. As you see the house has blue, wooden walls, and is built against a lava rock wall on one side.

It is a humble home. But it has been their home for more than a year. And in many ways it is a proud home. 4 young disabled women in Eastern Congo have rented this home through the work of their own hands. It is hard to explain exactly how amazing this is. Young women rarely live independently in Goma, and least of all, those struggling with disabilities. The fact that the SHONA women can rent their own home, and live and work in it, is in fact quite astounding. But not only that, their home has been an open one. They have taken in younger siblings and other relatives, who needed a place to stay.

None the less, their home is being torn down. This happens again and again in Eastern Congo, where small shacks are routinely thrown up on top of piles of stone and dirt, only to be taken down as soon as there is a little more money to build a bigger building. And so poor people are pushed further and further to the outskirts of town.

For the SHONA women, that is a risk they cannot take. The outskirts of town are insecure, prone to armed robberies. The outskirts have virtually no access to running water or electricity. Moving to the edges would put at risk, both their own lives, and their work. So for the past few months the SHONA women have been looking for a new home that is both a safe place to live and a reliable place to work. They are not rich, and they are no longer so extremely poor. But in Goma there is very little in between.

Fortunately the women have found a good option. It is an apartment in the same compound where they live now. For the first time in their lives they will have running water in their own home. They will be able to go to the bathroom at night, without stumbling with their crutches, in the dark, over rocks, to get to a public outhouse. It is not a fancy apartment but it is a solid one. I know it is a good apartment, because in fact, it is the same apartment I lived in while I lived in Goma.

But the women need your help. Renting a home in Goma generally requires at least 5 months rent up front. Although the women can pay the monthly rent, they don't have the money for this kind of deposit up front. It is a lot of money, and comes at a time when many of their families are experiencing very significant struggles of their own.

So would you consider making an extra special purchase this holiday season? We've taken some of our favorite household goods and made them even more. When you purchase one of these special household items, you will not only be purchasing a beautiful handcrafted item for your home, but you will be making a donation to the SHONA women's new home. You will be sharing the gift of a warm and safe home with these amazing young women.

We also have a special section of items that the SHONA women have donated freely in order to raise money for Mapendo's sister's family, a family with 10 children, who recently lost their father, and who are also fighting to keep their home. Even in the midst of struggling themselves to raise money to move, the SHONA women have chosen to donate some of their hard work to a family who deserves a little more help. Thank you for joining hands with us!