Fair Trade Friday - Beza Threads

Imagine a scene with me, a scene where a busy street in the Ethiopian city of Addis Ababa gives way to a district of tin shacks.  These shacks stretch block after block, and inside are girls, children, almost all under the age of seventeen, who are selling themselves for their livelihood.  The cost for their trouble? Around $1, which instead of keeping, are forced to hand to the person enslaving them in this life.

Now imagine another scene: you are a parent, with a full house of children, without the means to feed all of them.  A man comes to your door, and offers what sounds like an incredible blessing: your 10 year old son can have a job!  He can move out of your home in the poverty stricken town where you reside, and earn a good wage in the city!  It's not until months later, with no contact from him, that you learn that his 'job' is actually being enslaved in a textile factory, working long hours without breaks, toilets, or safe working conditions, while working off the insurmountable 'debt' he owes his employers for 'rescuing' him.

A group of Iowa college students happened upon these scenes on their mission trip to Ethiopia in 2008.  I can imagine they were heartbroken, but also found an organization that was making a difference.  Hope for Children in Ethiopia was already there, doing everything they can to alleviate the pain and poverty in the region around them, by offering food, education, homes, and even freedom to the children in their area.  The Iowan students took action, buying handmade scarves to re-sell back home, in an effort to raise funds and awareness for these children.  Seven years later, Beza Threads is continuing that work, and to date has freed 27 people from the tentacles of slavery!  (all information is from their 'About' page)

The best part of these life-changing scarves?  They're beautiful!  I've picked some of my favorites to share with you today (which, by the way, wasn't easy... I'd be happy to have any one of them!).

There are many variations of this scarf on the site, with more colors than I'll list today, but this deep red has to be one of my favorites. The name means "joy" in the native language of Amharic, and this color definitely brings me much joy. Most of the solid styles have that subtle diamond pattern woven into the ends, which just amps up the pretty factor even more!

Cream with Blue & Light Blue 
This scarf is filed in the newly introduced category, "Men's Collection," so it would make a great gift for Father's Day.  I'm not gonna lie, though, if I bought this scarf for Daddy A, I would have a really hard time not keeping it for myself!

Black & White Hatch
Here's another scarf in the "Men's Collection" that I would happily wear.  The black and white are timeless, but also very 'of the moment,' and the neutral color palette would coordinate with most of the items I already own!

'Give Freedom' Bracelet
If you aren't in the market for a scarf, or just want something different, Beza Threads also offers these leather bracelets that share their mission clearly and succinctly.  And if you're going to give a gift, freedom is the best way to go.

Are there any companies you'd like to see featured on Fair Trade Friday?  Any special requests, i.e. fair trade maxi dresses, home decor, or kid's toys?  Let me know in the comments, and I'll make it happen!

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