Handwriting by Marisa Mangum
Today is World Refugee Day. In honor of this special day, we’d like to take this opportunity to discuss some of our hardworking refugee artisan partners in the United States. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, defines refugee as:
“A [person or group experiencing a] well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his/her nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself/herself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.”
The UNHCR estimates that up to 70 million people will be displaced by 2017. And close to 34,000 people are forcibly displaced every day as a result of conflict or persecution.1
Unfortunately, not all refugees and displaced people find permanent resettlement; 10 million of the 63.5 million displaced people are now stateless. Stateless people are denied a nationality and access to basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment, and freedom of movement. Despite the staggering numbers of displaced people, as of 2015, only 107, 000 people had been successfully resettled.2
At The Little Market, we believe that refugees, some of the most socially, economically, and culturally vulnerable groups, stand to benefit from participation in the Fair Trade Movement. Currently, we partner with two artisan groups based in the United States that provide opportunities for female refugees from countries in the Global South, including Burma, Syria, Iraq, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Our partnerships with Prosperity Candle and GAIA show the positive impact that engagement with fair trade principled production can have on the quality of life of refugee artisans, particularly women.
Prosperity Candle is a social enterprise in Easthampton, Massachusetts operating within the fair trade principles and working at the intersection of business and philanthropy. The Little Market proudly carries candles from Prosperity Candle because it values the organization’s conscious effort to simultaneously preserve cultural identities, while creating new opportunities for skill development. Prosperity Candle has created steady employment opportunities with a living wage, transportation support, and flexible work hours in a safe, harassment-free environment.
Through employment opportunities and encouragement, GAIA empowers refugee women resettled in Dallas, Texas. With the use of vintage and sustainable materials, GAIA produces artisan-made accessories that help the refugee women gain financial independence and self-sufficiency.
At The Little Market, we are committed to doing our part in supporting fair trade principled, ethical organizations such as Prosperity Candle, GAIA, and others, to help advance the economic, social, emotional, and cultural well-being of vulnerable refugee artisans. Please join us in honoring World Refugee Day. Thank you for your support of our artisan partners.