Last Friday, six intrepid travelers set out from Indianapolis on a journey to discover, in in person, what fair trade means to artisans in Kenya. Nora store manager, Kelly Trimble, an experienced tour guide, first envisioned this expedition a few years ago and a great deal of planning went into the opportunity that has been on-offer to Global Gifts volunteers and the public since last January.
The 13-day excursion includes (among other activities) time in Eldoret, Kenya, visiting Imani Workshops. Imani employs HIV/AIDS survivors who have completed the AMPATH treatment program. Imani trains workers, teaches job skills, and provides meaningful employment to those learning how to cope with illness.
"It's one thing to read about the needs of Kenyans, and to touch the products in our stores that are clearly made by artisans -- yes, you can feel a connection... of sorts. But, it's truly powerful to experience Kenya in the first-person, to befriend and work alongside the people who create the goods we sell. In this way, we can deeply understand how fair trade practices affect peoples' lives. That is what we're doing on this trip, stated Trimble."
Imani is only one of Global Gift's 50-some fair trade vendors from around the world, but it is perhaps the vendor that Global Gifts is most connected to, on an interpersonal level. Global Gifts now proudly serves as Imani's wholesale representative.
Recent emails and texts from our travelers reveal Kenya's wealth of hospitality. "We visited the homes of three of the ladies from Imani Workshops, Diana, Naomi, and Gertrude. Diana lives the closest [to Imani] and it took us forty minutes to walk there (a trip she makes twice a day). Other Imani workers walk more than an hour on roads or paths that are rough and uneven. And their shoes... they are not new. We were all filled with gratitude to be welcomed into their private life and spaces."