TO THE MARKET Celebrates World Refugee Day with the Launch of New Products

A few years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Jane Mosbacher Morris, Founder and CEO of TO THE MARKET | Survivor-made Goods. TO THE MARKET is an amazing, creative social enterprise that showcases handmade goods made exclusively by proud and passionate artisans who have overcome the perils of abuse, conflict, and disease. By assisting local partners around the world in bringing these goods “to the market,” the organization takes an active role in equipping the survivor’s they employ with economic independence, while raising awareness of the challenges that they face.

I have featured TO THE MARKET’s products on my “Gifts that Give Back” page on my blog and have stayed in touch with Jane over the years to see what new initiatives they are working on. In honor of World Refugee Day (June 20th) and World Refugee Awareness Month (all of June), TO THE MARKET has launched a small collection of products in partnership with Art of Hope, a non-profit providing services to Syrian refugees in the Middle East.  I asked Jane to tell me a little bit more about the new product line and how we can use our purchasing power to make a difference. Here is what she has to say.

This was taken in the slums of Dehra Dun, India and shows Jane Mosbacher Morris (Founder of TO THE MARKET) talking with a mother of a polio survivor. Her son, the polio survivor, is able to work, allowing the family (including the mother pictured) to be supported. Photo credit: Neil Ruskin

Today is World Refugee Day, a day serving to bring to light the hardships faced by millions of displaced persons and acknowledge their perseverance. Our world faces an unprecedented number of displaced persons, 65.6 million people have been forced to flee their homes due to natural and manmade disasters (1). Of this population, a significant number of refugees come from Syria (1). Over 1 million registered Syrian refugees have fled to neighboring Lebanon, with over half below the age of 17 (2). Displaced persons often experience greater threat of physical violence, psychological traumas, disability and death.

The stark realities endured by the majority of displaced Syrians, and countless others across the globe, can often leave those of us reading this post thousands of miles away feeling helpless as to whether or not we can make a meaningful difference. But with today’s interconnected society we can, within even a matter of minutes, through support a new collection launched by TO THE MARKET and Art of Hope at the beginning of June.

In an effort to alleviate some of the trauma and psychological wounds forced upon Syrian refugees, Art of Hope provides Syrian refugee children based in Lebanon with therapy, counseling, and trauma-relief through various art therapy workshops as well as teaching them English through the arts. The organization also provides women and teens sewing classes, arts/crafts, and psychodrama workshops, as well as English courses while helping them cope with emotional challenges. In the absence of any educational, vocational, and psychological support for the refugees, Art of Hope’s help is sometimes the only support they will receive and it makes a tremendous difference.

Art of Hope released its first capsule collection using the drawing and hand-written letters of their Syrian refugee beneficiaries from Lebanon. Printed on 100% organic cotton, each bag is handmade by female human trafficking survivors in TO THE MARKET’s artisan network and then handprinted by a Syrian refugee child. 100% of the sales of the Art of Hope and TO THE MARKET collection will directly benefit Art of Hope’s programming on the ground in Lebanon.

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Here are some photos from the new collection. To see more details or to place an order, click here.

To The Market Art of Hope

Rula’s Drawing Tote Bag: This 100% organic cotton sheeting tote includes a screen print of a beautiful drawing originally done by Rula, an 11 year old Syrian refugee from Daraa, Syria who now lives in one of the most impoverished slums of Beirut, Lebanon. Rula suffers from anxiety and PTSD after fleeing her war-torn city in Syria.

To the Market Art of Hope

Rula’s Letter Toiletry Bag

To the Market Art of Hope

Aya’s Letter Tote Bag: This 100% organic cotton canvas tote in black includes a screen print of a letter originally written in English by Aya, a 16 year old Syrian refugee from Homs, Syria who currently lives in Lebanon. 1

Want to learn more? Please visit TO THE MARKET  (www.tothemarket.com) and Art of Hope (www.artofhopeglobal.org).

References

  1. Figures At A Glance [Internet].  Available from: http://www.unhcr.org/en-us/figures-at-a-glance.html. UNHCR.
  2. Syrian Regional Refugee Response Inter-agency Information Sharing Portal [Internet]. Available from: http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/country.php?id=122.

 

 

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Gifts that Give Back: My pick for best Valentine’s Day Gifts

I am a huge supporter of giving amazing gifts that also give back to those in need. Thankfully over the past few years, more and more companies have realized that they too have a responsibility to make the world a better place and consumers are craving to make purchases that make them feel good. From non-profit organizations to benefit corporations (companies that are for profit and also donate a percentage of sales to charity) and the “buy one give one back for free” model, there are many ways to make a difference.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, a time when millions of dollars are being spent on flowers, chocolates and cards, I thought it would be great to compile a list of my favorite gifts that give back. Wouldn’t it be nice to have some of the enormous profits going to Hershey’s, Victoria Secret’s and Hallmark, go towards people in need? Call me idealistic but everything helps.

Here is my list of favorite picks. To see all my Gifts that Give Back, please click here.

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Jewelry from Songa Designs International

Songa Designs International celebrates the empowerment of women around the world. It is typical for many women in developing countries to depend solely on their husbands for financial needs, but Songa is changing this dynamic. With Songa, under-resourced  women have the opportunity to achieve economic independence by using skills acquired through everyday life to make a living. Defined as “the path forward” in Swahili, Songa is synonymous with the journey towards economic empowerment for women in developing countries. To see all their gorgeous jewelry, visit their shop here.

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To the Market: Empowering survivors around the world

During the ONE Women and Girls AYA Summit I attended in mid-October, I had the pleasure to meet Jane Mosbacher Morris, Founder and CEO of TO THE MARKET | Survivor-made Goods. Jane presented on her social enterprise TO THE MARKET | Survivor-made Goods (TTM) an amazing, creative organization that combines the powers of commerce and storytelling to empower the world’s most courageous survivor populations.

To the Market showcases handmade goods made exclusively by proud and passionate artisans who have overcome the perils of abuse, conflict, and disease. By assisting local partners around the world in bringing these goods “to the market,” TTM takes an active role in equipping the survivor’s they employ with economic independence, while raising awareness of the challenges that they face.

I was so impressed by Jane and the organization that she founded, that I invited her to do a guest post on my blog to introduce you to her work and To the Market. Here is her story.

This is taken in We are in the slums of Dehra Dun, India and shows Jane talking with a mother of a polio survivor.  Her son, the polio survivor, is able to work, allowing the family (including the mother pictured) to be supported.  Photo credit: Neil Ruskin

This is taken in the slums of Dehra Dun, India and shows Jane talking with a mother of a polio survivor. Her son, the polio survivor, is able to work, allowing the family (including the mother pictured) to be supported. Photo credit: Neil Ruskin

To the Market: How and Why it Began

Guest post by Jane Mosbacher Morris is the Founder and CEO of TO THE MARKET | Survivor-made Goods

Whether working domestically or abroad, I am consistently reminded of how crucial it is, especially for women, to have some form of economic independence. This economic independence helps to ensure that we are not left at the mercy of others when we unexpectedly find ourselves in a dire situation.

This point was hammered home to me during my time working for the U.S. State Department on women and security. I began studying the approach that many governments and non-profits were taking to provide assistance to vulnerable populations, many of whom were women. What I observed was a major focus on social service provision—administering things like medicine, housing, and pro-bono legal assistance.  Social services are extraordinarily important, particularly in emergency situations, but they are generally not available to the beneficiary for the duration of his or her life.  What seemed to be lacking was a plan to support those in need after they received the emergency assistance.

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