Here are just a few of the many artisans whose work we feature:
When Sofiya was young, she lived in an urban slum with her family of 6. Her father was forced to leave work due to health issues and the family moved when Sofiya was in 8th grade. After the move, she was unable to return to work and she helped care for her mother. Sofiya calls the moment she began work with the artisan group "a turning point" in her life. With her first paycheck, she was able to help her family paint their home and install a water meter that brought tap water into their home for the first time.
Kanchan and her husband had been living on a meager income of about $54 a month. She was encouraged to join the women's cooperative in her village by her neighbor, and immediately felt at home after a visit. Initially Kanchan was shy, but once she began to generate a regular income for her household, her confidence and independence increased immeasurably. Today, she is an essential part of the artisan group and due to her hard work, she saved enough money to contribute to her family's purchase of a two-room flat in their village.
Shelbi started Willow Branch Crochet in 2019 out of love for creating things for people that brought a sense of comfort & warmth. She has been crocheting for over 8 years and can often be found in an oversized chair with a ball of yarn and coffee in hand. She hopes you enjoy all of her crocheted creations and that they inspire you to share your giftings with others!
The Leakey Collection Story
Sindyanna of Galilee
Sindyanna of Galilee is a female-run organization that markets olive oil and other premium fair-trade products, channeling all profits back to educating Arab women. Your purchase offers Arab farmers in Israel a fair price for their crops, Palestinian and Israeli women greater economic opportunity, and a rare model of Jewish-Arab coexistence.
Arab farmers in Israel face many obstacles, making access to resources and markets difficult. Established in 1996, Sindyanna of Galilee is the only certified fair-trade olive oil producer in Israel that operates among the country's Arab population. Sindyanna's goals include restoring and modernizing the Arab olive industry in western Galilee, and ensuring Arab farmers are able to sell their crops under fair conditions. Founded and managed by women, Sindyanna is the only facility in the area that employs women, providing a unique opportunity for Israeli and Palestinian women to work together. Named for the enduring Palestine oak tree, Sindyanna commits to sustainable growth by offering education and financial advice to Arab women and some 200 local Arab olive oil producers, and encouraging sustainable agriculture and organic farming.
Born in a small village in the Congo, Nyota and her family were forced to flee their home to escape the violence of war. She was only 6 years old and has few memories of that time beyond that she lost loved ones.
After 16 years in a refugee camp in Burundi, Nyota and her family became eligible to relocate to the United States to build a brighter future in peace and security. In October 2018 she received her very first paycheck, helping to support her family through candle-making.
Today Nyota shares a home with her mother, two brothers and three sisters. Her dream is to learn English so that she can grow alongside her family and thrive.
Born in Thailand, Moo Kho was taken to Burma (Myanmar) when she was barely four years old by her grandmother, leaving behind her mother and father. She was not to be reunited with her mother for another 15 years, by which time her father had tragically died. It was while in Burma that she experienced the chilling horror of seeing her adopted village burn down, and people brutally murdered in front of her young eyes.
So began a long journey to escape the same fate. It was very difficult, but by 2008 Moo Kho had reached a refugee camp in Thailand. She was now married and had a daughter. They had left behind everything they owned and loved. She could not advance her education, was not allowed to seek a job, and lived in poor conditions. But at least they were safe.
A year later, Moo Kho and her husband were offered the rare opportunity to relocate to the U.S. In 2010, she joined Prosperity Candle as an apprentice candle-maker and loved everything about making candles. In 2012 she was promoted to Production Manager, overseeing quality control and training other women refugees in the art of candle-making.
Moo Kho proudly shares her accomplishments here in the U.S., including her journey to become a minister at her Burmese church in Springfield. In 2016 she passed the citizenship exam, became an American citizen, and at age 39 voted for the first time in her life.
When asked about her dreams, she replies quietly but with earnestness, “I am a servant of God. Whatever God asks of me, that is what I will do”.