Tag Archives: Independence day

Fireworks, festivities and fair trade!

2 Jul


This year when you are celebrating Independence Day by watching the sky light up in bright bursts of color remember that this day commemorates how the United States gained the freedom to support itself and become an independent nation. Supporting fair trade means supporting working independence of farmers, artisans, builders, crafters and laborers around the world by providing them safe working conditions and the wages to care for their families and build a life upon. Here are a few ways you can use fair trade products to celebrate the Fourth of July in style while helping others gain their independence as well!

ImageOff to a barbecue potluck with friends or a family reunion this holiday and not sure what to bring? How about some delicious pasta salad made with Equal Exchange Fair Trade Olive Oil?

If you’re in charge of dessert Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream is always a crowd favorite and every flavor is proudly stamped with that fair trade logo like a badge of honor.

Maybe you are more interested in providing refreshments for the day’s festivities? Mongozo’s Exotic Banana Beer has that sweet taste of summer and social responsibility in every fair trade bottle. If you’re looking for something with a little more punch to go with those booming fireworks perhaps Papagayo’s Organic Rum will spark your interest? Here’s a recipe for a patriotic array of red, white and blue daiquiris that are gaurenteed to get everyone into the holiday spirit(s)–pun intended.


If you want to wish your relatives and friends who couldn’t be there with you to celebrate this festive holiday a Happy Fourth of July, remember that Hope For Women’s beautiful handcrafted and eco-friendly cards are sure to brighten anyone’s day like a firework brighten’s the sky.

Screen shot 2013-07-02 at 3.20.57 PM

We here at Hope For Women hope you found these fair trade suggestions helpful and wish you all a happy, fun-filled and safe Independence Day this year.


Artisans and Independence: The Last of Three Stories from Colombia

19 Jul

Colombian Independence Day Festival in 2006, via New York Daily News

It has been weeks since we waded through happy masses at the Burlington Waterfront Park to enjoy an evening of pyrotechnic excitement and those familiar firework cracks, bangs and whistles. Our mosquito bites have faded and we’ve put away our semi-ironic American flag trousers for another year. But maybe we should start searching for accessories in yellow, blue and red, because Colombia’s Independence Day celebration starts tomorrow!

If you have been keeping up with our blog in the past two weeks, you know that we’ve been thinking a lot about independence–what it means for a country, for an individual, and for artisans at Hope For Women’s Colombian partner, Sapia. As part of this meditation on independence, we are profiling three of our artisans in Bogota: Rosa, Ofelia, and (today) Claudia. It has always been a goal for Hope For Women to humanize international business so that consumerism does not overpower social or environmental ethics. So, here is one final story of an individual artisan who works to produce the beautiful and conscientious products that Hope For Women is so proud to offer to you.

Claudia Esperanza Zambrano is the mother of four children: Jennyfer Andrea (19 years old), Jonathan Andres (18 years old), Yuri Solanyi (16 years old), and Brayan Leonardo (15 years old). She and her husband work hard to provide for their family, and through Claudia’s work with Sapia and Hope For Women, she is able to achieve job security that has significantly bettered her children’s lives.

In Caludia’s words, independence is “the freedom for each person to manage their own space, time and money.” Her ability to provide for the people she loves means true independence. With this freedom, Claudia says that she is able to “improve the quality of life of my kids and the family economy.” Furthermore, she states, “Making fair trade products also allows me to help other people that work with me to achieve their own independence.”

Here, Claudia is working with Tagua, a sustainable material used to make jewelry.

Tomorrow, on July 20th, Claudia will celebrate independence by embracing family. With national pride, she will enjoy the company of her children at home.

Here at Hope For Women, we would like to thank you so much for following our Independence Series. We recognize that  choices made in America do not exclusively affect Americans, and that it is our responsibility to understand where our products are coming from, and the impact they have on our world. Independence, after all, is anything but passive or singular. By supporting Hope For Women and the Fair Trade movement, you are offering economic independence to thousands around the globe just like Rosa, Ofelia, and Claudia.

Artisans and Independence: The Second of Three Stories from Colombia

12 Jul

Today marks Week Two in Hope For Women’s focus on Independence (check out this blog post for more information on our Independence Spotlight). With both American and Colombian Independence celebrations squeezed into the month of July, our minds are focused on the female artisans working in Bogotá, Colombia to create the quality Fair Trade products that Hope For Women is known for. Many of these artisans have gained  powerful senses of independence as a result of fair practices and their relationship with Hope For Women. We see Fair Trade as an opportunity to add humanity, global awareness, and respect to the giant realm of international business, because at the end of the day, Fair Trade is about individual people: their relationships, needs, desires and dreams. With that in mind, we would like to introduce you to Maria Ofelia Cárdenas.

Ofelia is a single mother of two daughters, Diana Marcel and Stefania Campo (age 17 and 11, respectively). Like her coworker, Rosa, Ofelia views independence as access to personal freedom. For a citizen in Colombia, national independence, she believes, demands that each citizen has the ability “to choose the way of life that they want to live.”

Ofelia assembles Eco-Friendly packaging for a Fair Trade product

Having financial stability as an employee of Sapia, Hope For Women’s Colombian partner, truly allowed Ofelia to access her definition of independence. Ofelia says,  “One of my biggest achievements from my work as an artisan has been to buy my own house.” In this way, Ofelia is literally able to live her life the way she wants to, in a home of her choosing, with a liveable wage and safe work environment.

On July 20th, Ofelia will be working at Sapia with the rest of her artisan community. In celebration of her Nation’s Independence, Ofelia says that she will “go to work with encouragement, showing all of my people that we are working people and proud of our country.

Check back next Tuesday for the last artisan story in our series of three. Then join us in celebrating Colombia’s Independence on Wednesday, July 20th. You can keep up to date on what we’re doing and how we’ll be celebrating by following our facebook page!

Artisans and Independence: The First of Three Stories from Colombia

5 Jul

It is July 5th, and the booms and crackles of fireworks are finally fading in Vermont as the national Independence Day celebrations come to a close for this year. However, commemorating Independence need not be a practice confined by 24 hours, quickly spent and forgotten.

As we pointed out last week, independence is certainly not unique to Americans. With that in mind, we would like to introduce you to Rosa, an artisan in Colombia who has been producing creative, beautiful goods for longer than Hope For Women has existed! Rosa’s story is the first in a series of three (taking place over the next two weeks) in preparation for Colombia’s Independence Day on July 20th. Keep checking back on Tuesdays to hear more artisan experiences of independence.

Rosa is a single mother with two sons, Andres Mauricio (23 years old) and Cristian Camilo (21 years old). Although her family is expanding (both of her sons have children), Rosa spoke to us about the ways in which working with Hope For Women has allowed her to experience independence within her growing community.

When we asked Rosa what independence means, she replied simply, “freedom and happiness.” Her words are strong and true. She further explained that a person who is independent has “freedom of opinion and action.” As a Fair Trade artisan, Rosa was able to harness a freedom and an independence that allowed for her to pay for the education of her sons and grow through the ranks of Sapia, our partner company in Bogotá. She has gathered raw materials, trained as a skilled artisan, and worked on the managerial side of the company, doing computer work related to exportation and documentation. These were steps that directly improved her life and the lives of those around her.

On July 20th, Colombian Independence Day, Rosa will be celebrating her country, and also her family. As she says, “Colombian Independence day is my son’s birthday and we are going to celebrate together with the entire family.”

Independence Day

30 Jun

Red, white and blue for the big day

It won’t be long before stripes and stars make an outfit, the American National Anthem rings through parade float speakers, and the night sky explodes with light. Come Monday, patriotism will be a priority, and nationalism, a prerequisite. The Fourth of July in America is a day of celebration, and we celebrate Independence.

Independence is an amazing and powerful thing (certainly worth celebrating) but I urge against interchanging Independence for Isolation. On a day that honors everything American, I find it important to look, also, to the modern, interconnected America whose influence lacks clear borders. Because today we Skype with friends in India, do business with artisans in Colombia, and grab lunch with visitors from Spain.

So, in thinking about the fast-approaching Fourth, I also think deeply about the meaning–and the varied meanings–of Independence around the world. What does it really mean for a Nation or a community or a person to be independent?

Rosa, one of the Hope For Women artisans in Colombia

Nineteen countries celebrate their Independence this month: from Rwanda to Slovakia to Colombia, where Hope For Women artisans are working right now to create beautiful products under fair conditions. For many of these women, Independence day commemorates more than National identity. For many of them, a partnership with Hope For Women meant better health, real job security, and ultimately, personal independence.

Between today and July 20th (the day of Colombia’s National Celebration) Hope For Women will be spotlighting individual experiences of independence. We spoke with three Colombian artisans who want to share their stories with you, and each week, we will feature a new artisan tale here on our blog. Check back in with us every Tuesday to see the stories unfold.

Hope For Women wishes you a reflective, conscientious, and fun Fourth of July celebration. While you’re cuddling under the fireworks show or suiting up for a playful game of ball, take a moment to think of what this day means for you, while pondering a global perspective on independence.