The last highlight of our trip I want to share with you is our visit to FashionABLE, a not-for-profit organization which helps create a sustainable living for women in Addis Ababa. Addis has approximately 4,000,000 inhabitants, of which 150,000 are sex workers -- and the stories of how these women, many of them girls, came to a life of prostitution will break your heart. In many instances, the women get into sex work not as a choice, but as a matter of survival.
FashionABLE aims to change that percentage, by helping these vulnerable women get off the street and learn the trade of weaving, making some of the most stunning scarves you could ever imagine. And happily, the US legislation African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) allows FashionABLE to harness the benefits of trade with the US. Enacted in 2000, AGOA was the first piece of trade legislation focused on increasing and enhancing trade between the United States and countries in sub-Saharan Africa, by permitting the duty-free export to the US of over 6,000 products from AGOA-eligible countries. In order to qualify for AGOA, each country must be working to improve its rule of law, human rights, and respect for core labour standards. Currently, 39 of 48 sub-Saharan African nations qualify. In August 2012, the US Senate passed the bill to continue expanding US trade with sub-Saharan Africa and Central America through September 2015; the bill will extend key provisions to textile and apparel trading.
The FashionABLE facility where the scarves are made is a gorgeous, joyful place, and the women who worked there were kind enough to share their stories and their process with all of us, from the dyeing of the cotton, hanging it out to dry, spinning the threads and then ultimately weaving the final product:
The scarves are really beautiful, and I sort of lost my mind, purchasing way more than I could possibly need, as gifts for family and friends. I couldn't help myself.
This, however, is great news for you: I happen to have an extra scarf -- the green one with the orange stripe that you see in the top photo -- and I'd love to give it away, along with some other cool stuff. So to do this:
1. Please sign up to become a member of ONE (if you haven't already!). You can use the widget below, or, if you're located outside of the United States, the widget in my sidebar to the right should work. And then
2. once you do, leave a comment confirming that you're a member, below, wherever in the world you are (NOTE -- signing in as a "Guest" is often the easiest), and I'll pick one person at random to win the following:
• the FashionABLE scarf (in green and orange, shown in the top photo, above)
• a signed copy of The Beauty of Different, inscribed to whomever you'd like, and
• this amazing Epiphanie camera bag. It's just like the bag I used all over Ethiopia to carry my gear, and it's seriously wonderful.
It's the least I can do for following along on this wonderful journey of mine to Ethiopia -- it has been so great having your support.
(And, of course, if you can't wait to see if you won, you can buy the scarves here. The holidays are coming, and trust me, these would make beautiful gifts. Click here to find out about their shipping policies.)
Once you've left your comment, then please take a look at this year's ONEMoms, my travel companions to Ethiopia, and each of them amazing writers and storytellers (I couldn't help taking their portraits, modeling FashionABLE scarves!). If you haven't already become familiar with their work, then I invite you to click on the links below their photographs and visit their sites -- they've been sharing their own perceptions of Ethiopia, and it makes for wonderful reading.
It was truly an honour to travel with this amazingly diverse group of women, and I'm pretty certain that they'll be good friends of mine for a long, long time. Thanks for the fabulous memories, beautiful ladies.
And thanks to all of you for following along on my Great Ethiopian Adventure, and therefore supporting all the good work that is happening there. Have a great weekend, friends, and don't forget to sign up to ONE and leave a comment!
UPDATED: According to Random.org, congratulations to Autumn, who said "Hi Karen, I love this journey you've taken you are an inspiration to so
many of us! I've been a ONE member for awhile...U2 is my favorite band
since age 8 - it's only right! :)" -- you won the scarf, the bag and the book! Check your email for more information from me on how to claim your gifts.
And thanks to all of you who participated and became members of ONE -- I'm always so grateful for your support, and your voice will do more for the fight against extreme poverty and preventable disease than you can imagine. Thank you.
Song: Now that we found love by Heavy D and the Boyz. Several of us may or may not have been jamming to this song during one of our last road trips in Ethiopia, thanks to the playlist of a certain lovely driver, Kiru.
I spent last week in Ethiopia at the kind invitation and expense of The ONE Campaign,
a nonpartisan, advocacy organization dedicated to the fight against
extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. ONE
works to convince governments to invest in smart programs that help
eliminate poverty and preventable disease in a sustainable way. I was supporting a group of parenting bloggers
by capturing images that tell the story of how the organizations for
which ONE advocates are effecting real change in Ethiopia.
If you're moved by anything you read or see here, on the ONE blog
or any of the ONEMoms' blogs and you'd like to help, please consider
adding your voice, and join ONE by simply filling out the surprisingly
short form in my sidebar on the right, at the very top, or the form below.
Your information will remain confidential, I promise. And if you're
already a member, and would still like to help, I'd love if you'd spread
the word by sharing this post with your friends and followers.
That's all there is to it. Because ONE never asks for your money, just your voice.