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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Shopping With Heart

I was 15 years old, sitting on a plane, returning home, and bawling my face off. I had just spend two weeks serving in Brazil with Compassion International and had come face to face with raw, horrific, poverty. I held children covered in filth who lived in mountains of trash that would never see a day past their 10th birthday. I walked hand in hand with children who longed to go to school and yet would never see the inside of a first grade room or feel the luxury of a fresh sharpened pencil. I looked into the eyes of young women longing for freedom, but had only one vocation for their bodies to pay the bills with, and I was crushed under the hopelessness of it all.

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.

          To see the full collection of what Noonday offers visit me at:
bethbernhardt.noondaycollection.com

                                                                        Thank you!

30 comments:

  1. I plan to make a change to purchase more fair trade products by purchasing a Noonday product in 2013! :) Happy New Year!

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  2. Beth, I just wanted to say thank you for sharing this information with those you meet. I know it has opened my eyes. I am much more aware of the products I purchase and where they come from, preferring to purchase fair trade whenever possible. God bless!

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  3. I plan to look at holidays and birthdays as opportunities to bless not on the receiver, but the creator as well! I was so thankful to my family who helped me start off 2013 with a fair-trade bang, including giving me one of my favorite gifts and Noonday products-the catch-all bag. I'm using it as we speak! I also received two 10,000 Villages gift-cards, so more fair-trade purchases will be happening soon!

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  4. I'm planning to purchase more thoughtfully & be aware of where my products come from. I also plan to discuss these issues in my family & helP my children become aware of this important issue. Thanks for all you do to bring awareness & more importantly, for your transparent heart for Jesus!

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  5. i love giving noonday lovelies as gifts to all the women in my life and plan to continue! they are so beautiful and to know they are actually changing lives makes it 100x better! thanks for doing what you are doing! women, like you, are changing the world.

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  6. Thank you for opening my eyes to these situations and giving these women hope. I will definitely make a Noonday purchase in 2013!

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  7. I plan to purchase more fair trade products by researching where products come from rather than just buying based on what i want. And shopping Noonday!

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  8. I plan to buy LESS generally so that when I do make purchases I'm able to spend more on products that are fair-trade in origin, and donate to ministries helping those in developing countries make a living. Noonday jewelry as gifts is just one example, others are purchasing Sseko sandals instead of plastic sweatshop flip-flops, buying vegetables from my local farmers market, wearing shoes like Toms that gives shoes to others 1-for-1, and boycotting companies who neglect their fair-trade responsibilities. Vote with your dollar (how you spend it) and companies will listen.

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  9. Beth, I really enjoyed reading your post. Your gift of sharing your heart, your love for Jesus, and your love for the brothers and sisters on the other side of the world was nothing short of extraordinary. I have felt God tugging on my heartstrings recently, in so many different areas, but one of them was to love and serve more this year. And with Noonday, what a perfect opportunity to send a message of love and support to those beautiful souls on the other side of the world, to encourage them on their life journey. Their unique circumstances are something I may never fully experience or understand firsthand, but by supporting Noonday and other fair trade practices, I can let my voice be heard as a consumer. This year especially, I am choosing to research more about the products I purchase and choose to support fair trade products, as well as the people behind those fair trade products. I had a friend introduce me to Noonday just a few months ago and I am excited to make a purchase in the future. Thank you for offering this giveaway, Beth, and I hope that you have a very blessed 2013!

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  10. That was inspiring Beth and Sara! I've written about it in the past, preached it, try to live it but NOW I am inspired. NOW is the time. It's too easy to fall back on these mass producers for gifts and clothes. But at what costs. Our green energy is our power over this stuff! I pledge to buy fair trade 80% of the time and this year is the year I buy my next gift for someone at Noonday!!!

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  11. I plan to spend more of my money supporting fair trade and small businesses. I love Noonday. :)

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  12. My plan is to pay more attention, read, and do research before I spend money. And more Noonday purchases, obviously!

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  13. I appreciate your heart and how it was moving to make a difference in the lives of people. I'm also very burdened for women and children in compromising situations. I have the privilege of going to Cusco, Peru on a mission trip in just a few months. I look forward to meeting and supporting some of the women in that area as well as the children in the orphanage. I have been on mission trips before where it kind of became a challenge see how cheap I could buy things in the market. As I've become more aware of what it really happening, I'm much more motivated to encourage them by being willing to pay a FAIR price. I love what Noonday stands for and look forward to supporting this organization by hosting a Noonday party for friends in the area.

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  14. By not being overwhelmed with my own consumerism! Sometimes it seems impossible to make a difference and stay on budget. For the new year, I will try harder to not be discouraged into apathy.

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  15. I got Half the Sky for Christmas from my daughter (another Noonday ambassador), and I think it will change the way I purchase products this year. I also did much of my Christmas shopping this Christmas. :)
    -Jan Carpenter

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  16. So glad a friend introduced me to Noonday! Beautiful wares crafted by beautiful women--I love it. I will certainly be purchasing more fair trade in the future.

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  17. I'm considering hosting a noonday party this year! :)

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  18. I'm planning to purchase only fair trade coffee and chocolate this year. Just realized this means I may have to forego starbucks. Anyone know their policies?

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  19. This past Christmas my husband and I bought all of our family gift cards for experiences (the aquarium, zip lining, water park, etc)so that we wouldn't be caught up in things, but rather, in memories. For birthdays this year, my hope is to buy as many gifts as possible from fair trade places (like Noonday) or handmade items from Etsy in an effort to support individuals.

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  20. I will definately purchase from Noonday! I love all of their products! I will also support and purchase other local businesses that carry fair trade products.

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  21. Love this post, Beth! Thanks for sharing!

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  22. I am officially hooked on Noonday - I don't even look at jewelry/scarves/etc in regular stores anymore. I would much rather buy beautiful, high-quality products and support the lovely artisans that make Noonday!

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  23. Noonday has a special place in my heart because, not only is one of my sweet friends an ambassador, but I'm so inspired by the work it has provided for the people of India. Although not born in India, I do happen to be Indian and am planning my very first trip this summer. Noonday inspires others to go and make disciples as we're called to do!

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  24. Attending a Noonday party reminded me yet again of my deep love for people around the world. And, I hope to continue checking out the Noonday site, maybe having a party (?) and telling family and friends about it. I have been using my stationery from India to write letters and I'm reminded each time about the women of Noonday.
    I have a brother adopted from Romania and a brother and sister from Ethiopia. Their birthmother still lives in Ethiopia and is living with HIV/AIDS. Last summer I went to visit her and brought her notes and pictures of her children. Buying fair trade and caring for widows and orphans around the world is a very PERSONAL and PRACTICAL thing in my life now. It has a face and a name...
    Kate
    katezimmerman12@gmail.com

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  25. I'm hosting a Noonday trunk show in February, and am considering becomming an ambassador :-)
    gmiller@schiffcpa.com

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  26. I am always looking for fair trade items and will continue to do so. Helping others while getting things for myself is the way to go. We need more companies like Noonday.

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  27. I committed to purchasing more Fair Trade products last year when I first heard of Noonday. Now my goal is to become an ambassador for Noonday and help these families firsthand! I love NOONDAY!

    Dana Sewell

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  28. Thank you Beth, for opening my eyes to Fair Trade. I love wearing my products and being able to tell others about the cause to make them aware of it. I will definitely buy more in 2013. What a great way to change lives! I have seen poverty first hand in Ecuador, and love Noonday!

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  29. THANK YOU so much for reading my post and for commenting on how you are stepping out to be a part of the fair trade movement! Together we are changing the lives of countless people around the world!!!
    The winner of the vintage lace scarf is Mary Holland. Congrats Mary! Thank you again to everyone that participated. Big hugs to you all

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  30. For the lovers of art be it oil paintings, acrylics, water paints, abstracts, still life or just swirls of your imagination on the canvas. Find more art at
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgWYZyShA3c

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