Gift Ideas That Give Back

If you’re one of those people who finish their Christmas shopping before even touching Thanksgiving dinner, you should probably just bookmark this for another time (and resume planning your weekly meals for next August). However, if you are someone (like myself) who enjoys (relative term) getting stampeded at the mall a few Sundays before Christmas, this might be for you. Perhaps it’s a tad late, but if you like to live on the Holiday shopping edge (and feel good about it), read on.

All of these gift ideas are hand made by women around the world, who are fleeing lives of violence, poverty and slavery. The skills they develop through various programs allow them to become financially independent, provide for their families, and send their children (and themselves) to school. Alongside their neighbours these women contribute to a more supportive and strong community, in a workplace that provides them with safety and dignity.

While there are hundreds of other products available for sale (as well as other equally worthwhile organizations), here are a few that caught my eye:

1- The Kampala necklace, made by women in Uganda as part of the Noonday Collective. Noonday works with 28 artisan groups around the world, helping create economic opportunities and sustainable businesses. This particular group consists of 300 artisans, who all receive regular paycheques, emergency assistance and scholarship opportunities.

2- A bamboo and lemongrass candle and journal made of recycled cotton. These are both from Raven and Lily, which aims to empower women through design, while providing safe jobs and a chance to break the cycle of poverty. The candle was made by women in LA transitioning out of homelessness, while the journal was made by marginalized women in Northern India.

3- Ribbon sandals and hex clutches, made by women working for Sseko Designs in Uganda. In Uganda there is a 9 month gap between high school and university, for students to earn money to pay their tuition. In a country where less then 2% of the women receive any higher education, Sseko helps these women generate honest income so they can continue their educations.

4- Deepika pajama pants, made by women working for Punjammies in India (punny name as bonus). All of the over 150 women seamstresses are former sex trade workers and slaves. In a place where escape from the streets and brothels often results in being shunned by their families and neighbours, Punjammies creates a safe and supportive environment for women to earn a dignified living.

5- The Niguse scarf, Tizita bracelets, and Mamuye tote, all from FashionABLE. This organization helps women start small business cooperatives in Africa, so that they are not dependent on charity. This handwoven scarf, hand crafted tote, and bracelets made from repurposed bullet casings were all made in Ethiopia.

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