When people say that Americans have no idea what it's like in third world countries, they are speaking the truth. Even if the fiscal cliff takes us places we never thought we would go, Americans have something that every single third world country lacks and that is hope. America was born out of a vision that came from hope. We dream and plan and work together to make life better and easier.
While this is a wonderful thing in our country, we are at a place in life where it's time for us to extend this to other countries. We have a gift we can give those who are struggling and it begins with hope and a dream and is executed through the power of money. You see every time we make a purchase we are giving the support of our hard earned income not just to gain something for ourselves, but also to pay the person who made it. This is not something we think about since we are so far removed from the makers of our products. Most items we purchase are made in mass quantity at a factory overseas. The reality is that almost every one of these factories mistreat the people making the products and underpays them if paying them at all. Poverty will never be eliminated unless we start paying the person producing a product rather than the company in between the worker and consumer.
And while I myself could sit in my American home typing on my foreign made computer resting on my foreign made couch and try to explain the concept of fair trade and the opportunity to change the lives of individuals, I've chosen instead to let me dear sister give you her thoughts. She lives in Bangkok, Thailand...home to thousands of sweat shops and a prostitution capital of the world. I pray your eyes are opened and your heart stirred to be a part of a movement...a movement that has ripple effects farther than we could ever imagine.
When Beth told me that she wanted me to help her write a blog about the issues women face around the world, I felt very inadequate to do so. Living here has opened my eyes to how complicated the issues are. For example, before I moved to Thailand, I would have thought that any woman who was given the choice to get out of prostitution would take it. Now I know that the issues run deeper. She might have been brainwashed or be on drugs, she might have nowhere to go, she might have children to support, she might be completely rejected if she ever went back to where she was from (or might not even be able to get home if she doesn't have a passport). Helping women is more complicated than I thought. I went to a party to support a ministry here that helps women get out of prostitution. They told how much it would cost to support a woman and her child per month. It was extremely low, just over a hundred dollars. I wanted to just give the money. But then I realized that what they wanted me to do was buy something the women had made. They can't survive on handouts. Having a job and a trade and doing something is a key to creating a new life for themselves.
Another thing I've realized is that cultural beliefs really influence the issue and those are very hard to change. How do you explain to someone that prostitution is wrong when she sees it as a chance for a way out--she might marry a rich foreigner and then support her family for life (this happens enough to make them think it works). This can be discouraging, but I remind myself that ONE person at a time--ONE heart at a time is the focus. And, that the gospel is powerful and everlasting and changes people and cultures. When I get sad and overwhelmed about it, I just try to focus on Jesus' love--how His love can change anyone.We are on the cusp of an amazing movement...and we have the opportunity to use the power of our money to support people and help them make a long lasting change! Noonday Collection goes into countries and does THIS VERY THING. We offer sustainable income for people, through their work. We buy our products directly from them rather than paying them a percentage which means they are getting paid far above what they would get anywhere else.
When you make a purchase through Noonday, YOU ARE CHANGING LIVES. As a thank you for reading today's blog and wanting to make the change to impact the world, I am offering one of our best selling scarves as a gift to one lucky winner. Just make a comment about how you plan to make a change to purchase more fair trade products and the winner will be chosen at random before midnight January 5th.
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