I recently learned of an amazing story from our co-founder Holly that I want to share with you. It is the story of Kanwel and Mushtaq, a married couple from Pakistan that have been working with women in the slums there since 2005. Together, they work to share love, light and hope in a community where there is so much persecution and oppression.
Our Co-Founder Holly met Mushtaq at a conference she attended with her husband. Holly happened to sit next to Mushtaq at the conference and they struck up a conversation. Holly learned that he was a failed pastor in Pakistan (the Taliban had closed his church) and that his wife Kanwel started a women’s center to teach women to read, write, and sew. The end goal of the center was to empower women to find skilled work. However, many women still would end up in the slums making only 7 cents a day. Even worse, many are bond laborers to land, meaning that they are indebted to the landowner largely due to debt that is inherited. The families are not free until the debt is paid. After hearing this story, Holly asked Mushtaq, “Do you know what I do?” Soon thereafter, Mushtaq learned about Trades of Hope and asked if we could partner with the women’s center to provide a marketplace for these women’s beautiful creations.
Of course, Holly wanted to say “YES!” However, as Trades of Hope follows Fair Trade principles, we can’t say “YES!” unless there are enough Compassionate Entrepreneurs and sales to support new groups. In order to say “YES!” to the Pakistan artisan group and Unlock their Freedom, there would need to be more qualified Compassionate Entrepreneurs with Trades of Hope.
Because of the response so far, we have been able to introduce the beautiful Kanwel scarf to our Summer Line of products. As Trades of Hope adds more qualified Compassionate Entrepreneurs, the products made by the Pakistan group will hopefully grow! If you would like to be part of this effort, please contact me.