Here is some basic information about some of the artisan groups who have created the products for sale by Latitudes. Hopefully, this will whet your whistle to visit their web sites and blogs and learn more about them for yourself!
Global Mamas, Ghana
Global Mamas is a non-profit and fair trade organization assisting women in Africa to become economically independent. By purchasing Global Mamas products, you are offering sustainable livelihoods to women and their families living in poverty. All proceeds go directly to the women and to the non-profit programs that assist them with business development. To see many more photos of the women, read their stories, and even see videos of how they make their fantastic products please visit: www.globalmamas.org.
Women of Worth (W.O.W.) Uganda
W.O.W is an outgrowth of the Foursquare Church of Kampala. The W.O.W. ministry is devoted to the spiritual, relational and economic development of a diverse group of women, representing different ages and ethnic groups. This remarkable group of Ugandan women recycle colorful paper into beautifully-beaded jewelry and accessories. Their handicrafts are a creative and industrious response to the limitations of a post-war country. Each of the beads is hand-rolled from brightly-colored paper and a sealant is applied to each bead to make them sturdy and water proof. You can literally feel the beauty of these women in their beaded items! They also sew bags and aprons from scraps and hand dyed fabrics. For more information about this and the many other aspects of this great group visit their blog at: www.Womenofworthuganda.wordpress.com
Trama Textiles, Guatemala
Making a difference one thread at a time…
TRAMA is an association of 400 backstrap loomweavers in the western highlands of Guatemala. TRAMA offers high quality products that ensure fair wages to the craftspeople. They also offer hands-on classes for individuals wanting to learn about traditional weaving processes.
They are active members of TRAMA Textiles, the Association of Women for Artisan Development in Backstrap Loom Weaving and work directly with 17 weaving cooperatives, representing 400 women from five regions in the western highlands of Guatemala: Sololá, Huehuetenango, Sacatepéquez, Quetzaltenango and Quiché. Their mission is to create work for fair wages for the women of Guatemala; to honorably support their families and communities; and to preserve and develop their cultural traditions through the maintenance of indigenous textile arts and their histories. To learn more about this wonderful group see their website at: www.tramatextiles.org
Yabal Handicrafts, Guatemala
Yabal, which means ‘hope’ an indigenous language of Guatemala, is another group of Mayan women which has also been formed in the highland area of Northern Guatemala. Vey similar to Trama in purpose and structure, their products have a totally different look. They have done a beautiful job of adapting their traditional colors and patterns to the North American marketplace. Learn more about them at their web site: http://yabal-handicrafts.com/home.html
Y’abal Handicrafts works to establish successful businesses, run by Guatemalans, and promote their products to a national and international market under fair trade conditions.
Y’abal Handicrafts increases the opportunities and quality of life of women in the Altiplano of Guatemala while conserving the traditional art of weaving.
* Improve weaving techniques with the back strap loom through workshops.
* Strengthen the cooperatives through workshops on organization, communication and business.
* Develop new products that maintain traditional Mayan symbols and techniques.
* Create awareness and respect of the art of weaving.
* Help improve the circumstances of the indigenous people in Guatemala.
* Develop a stable market on a local and international level for Guatemalan weavers.
* Establish a business lead by Guatemalans.
Jedando Modern Handicrafts, Kenya
Working with more than 100 individual carvers in Machakos, Kenya, Jedando Modern Handicrafts markets products primarily made of wood and bone worldwide. Carving is a tradition in Kenya with the children learning the craft from their parents. Carved by hand using only rudimentary hand tools, olive wood bowls, salad serving sets, and animal-shaped napkin rings take shape from pieces of olive wood, mahogany, and mpingo, or “African Ebony.” An integral part of the organization’s function is to educate the craftspeople on the need for reforestation to enable the products to be available for years to come and offer a sustainable income for generations.
While wood carving provides the major income for many in the Machakos area, other craftspeople earn a living by further enhancing the products including painting the napkin rings and carving discarded animal bone for the handles of salad serving sets. Often the bone is “batiked” by placing wax on the white bone and dipping the bone a dark brown/black dye, resulting in patterns African mud cloth designs.
Afrika Pamoja (Formerly TEMAK)
The sign for the Teenage Mothers Association of Kenya (TEMAK) indicates that it is "the last house towards the Obunga slums," the most destitute area of Kisumu. Many of the unwed mothers and young girls who come to TEMAK to learn job skills live in these slums. TEMAK is an organization that offers job training in tailoring, hairdressing, secretarial skills, craft making, and recently computers to unwed mothers, girls, and others in the Obunga slum community. As a community center, the organization also provides the community with an educational forum for HIV/AIDS awareness and other health issues.
Many of the young women at TEMAK participate in making crafts, earning income to support themselves and their families. In the past few years, TEMAK has partned with Global Crafts and become a craft center for the artisans and craftspeople in the town of Kisumu by providing local and international sales outlets that make available a sustainable income for many in the community. You can learn more about this organization by visiting www.afrikapamoja.org .
Fundacion Solidaridad, Chile
Fundacion Solidaridad began in 1974 as a part of the Cooperation Committee for Peace in Chile, which supported the production and sale of handicrafts made by political prisoners detained in prisons and detention camps. By 1976, the organization was supporting hundreds of community groups from the poorest areas of Santiago, including womens organizations, youth groups, indigenous groups, young artists with learning disabilities, and family microbusinesses. New and original handicrafts were invented as a result of the ingenuity and creativity of the local people, many of them made from recycled waste products. By increasing earnings, market insertion and social participation, the Fundacion helps position artisans to overcome poverty and improve their quality of life by producing handicrafts and non-industrial objects in autonomous workshops and microbusinesses.
COMPARTE (Comercializadora de Productos Artesanales Exportables) is a non-profit organization that exports Chilean handicrafts around the world. As members of IFAT, Comparte’s mission is to improve the standard of living for owners and employees of Chilean handicraft workshops, by promoting and exporting various handmade products of the highest quality, while supporting these same artisans through technical and product development assistance programs. Purchasing COMPARTE products helps improve the living conditions of their artisans and craftsmen by paying fair prices and stimulating justice in the workplace of the developing world.
The artisans often work from their homes. In some cases adult children work alongside their parents while younger children attend school. Comparte products include enameled copper earrings; fused glass earrings pendants and bracelets; sterling silver earrings; wood articulated pens, fish, snakes and dinosaurs; fused glass plates and ceramic