31
Mar 17

Seeing Firsthand The Growth of Education in our TLC Community

Hi, I’m Kathy, part of the US-based TLC team that visited our Kenya operations in March.

My Kenyan colleague Anne and I spent a day visiting Oltumusoi Primary School which serves the local Maasai community. In the 10 years since the school began with a handful of students, it has now grown to 200+ students. Through the sales of our Beads for Learning bracelets, The Leakey Collection pays for teacher salaries at the school. This year we are funding 5 of the 15 teachers.

kathy and anne

In Kenya, parents must pay tuition fees for each child to attend school. The students standing in this class all have parents who work for The Leakey Collection. Earning money so their children can attend school is the top financial motivation for most of our women artisans.

TLC parents

Almost all of the children are the first generation in their families to learn to read or attend school. In this 8th grade class, I asked if any of their parents had attended school and only this single boy stood up. The children are taught in English and Swahili and are trilingual (including their mother language of Maa) by primary graduation.

young man whose parent went to school

The challenge of balancing traditional gender roles with preparing for a changing future makes it especially difficult to keep girls in school as they become teenagers. Our Beads for Girls Graduation bracelets fund mentorship programs to support girls in pursuing their educational goals.

young girl

In the upper grades I said a few words to the girls, reinforcing that they are just as capable as the boys to continue on to secondary school (equivalent to our high school) and even a university. They were surprised to hear that more women than men attend universities in the US.

addressing class

Children as young as 4 can begin attending the pre-school class where they become familiar with the learning environment. Here they sing Heads-Shoulders-Knees-and-Toes, a song that unites children across the globe.

preschool

We walked home with the lower primary students who are dismissed after the school-provided lunch. These young children walk 8-10 miles each day to attend school. Truly inspirational!

walking home


11
Oct 16

Fair Trade Myths and Realities

Your Purchase_creates work_builds communitiesOctober is Fair Trade Month! As members of the Fair Trade Federation, we are dedicated to 360° fair trade.  360° means we work with artisans in partnerships built on trust.  It means good wages, safe working conditions, environmental responsibility, and more.  It means our partners are empowered to build strong businesses for their families today – and for generations to come. Do you have any misconceptions about Fair Trade?

Myth: Fair trade is about paying developed world wages in the developing world.

Reality: Wages are designed to provide fair compensation based on the true cost of production, and are not based on North American wage standards. Fair wages are determined by a number of factors, including:

  • The amount of time, skill, and effort involved in production
  • Minimum and living wages where products are made
  • The purchasing power in a community or area
  • Other costs of living in the local context

Myth: Fair trade siphons off American jobs to other countries.

Reality: Fair trade seeks to improve the lives of the poorest of the poor who frequently lack alternative sources of income. Most fair trade craft products stem from cultures and traditions which are not represented in North American production.

Myth: Fair trade is anti-globalization.

Reality: International exchange lies at the heart of fair trade.  360° Fair Trade Organizations seek to maximize the positive elements of globalization that connect people, communities, and cultures through products and ideas. At the same time, they seek to minimize the negative elements that result in lower labor, social, and environmental standards which hide the true costs of production.

Myth: Fair trade is a form of charity.

Reality:  360° fair trade promotes positive and long-term change through trade-based relationships which build self-sufficiency. Its success depends on independent, successfully-run organizations and businesses–not on handouts. While many fair trade organizations support charitable projects in addition to their work in trade, the exchange of goods remains the key element of their work.

Credit: Fair Trade Federation


15
Aug 16

Fair Trade Fairy (What it is/ how it works)

IMG_0088_ediated

I didn’t know what to expect when I stepped into the little airplane that would took me to where Katy and Philip Leakey live and work. I was actually advised not to have expectations, which helped me a lot once I arrived. It allowed my brain to be a sponge and soak up everything around me. Coming from Malibu California, a hub of capitalism, and venturing out to the bush of Africa to study Fair Trade, the only thing I did know was that it would be an adventure. 

I spent my first few days just observing and meeting the people, getting a feel for the community. AnneAnne (a brilliant woman who is my bridge into the community) and  Katy (my guide for basically everything else who has taught me many amazing things last week, yesterday, today, and probably everyday following) have both described Fair Trade in their own words and how it has changed the community here. What I have gathered, so far, is that it is a system where people (both the business and the entrepreneurs) work together to figure out a just or *fair* system in which to work and earn money, basically to “create their own realities.” The work they put in is reciprocated through what they gain, and it’s not just money – it’s much more than that.  The people working are able to have healthcare, educate their kids and provide for their families. I’m excited to interview people and see what they have to say so I can better understand this *magical* system!

**Fair Trade Fairy**

Check out the Pied Piper Collection here!


22
Oct 15

Empowering Women & Girls Makes Economic Sense

The recent International Day of the Girl really made us think about how empowering & educating women & girls can change the world! This year’s theme of “The Power of the Adolescent Girl: Vision for 2030″ addresses the fact that adolescent girls have the right to a safe, educated, and healthy life, but also that “If effectively supported during the adolescent years, girls have the potential to CHANGE THE WORLD – both as the empowered girls of today and as tomorrow’s workers, mothers, entrepreneurs, mentors, household heads, and political leaders.”  Powerful words!

young girls

Studies show that when an educated girl or woman earns income, she reinvests 90% of it into her family. She prioritizes food, medicine, and education for her children. In one of our recent videos about The Leakey Collection’s early days, our founder Katy Leakey shared that even the Maasai men eventually acknowledged: “The women spend the money on the RIGHT THINGS. They put the kids in school. They buy the food.”

Mandy Moore wrote in ONE.org: “Each additional year of secondary school can increase a woman’s earnings by 10 to 20 percent, and that increase yields real profits for the countries they live in. When 10 percent more women in a country complete secondary education, the country’s annual per capita income grows by 3 percent. Investing in women and girls makes economic sense.”

We believe in this so firmly that not only is our mission to empower our female Maasai artisans through entrepreneurial ventures, but we are working to keep young adolescent rural girls, who tend to drop out of school before completing their primary education, on track toward graduation. A portion of the proceeds from each Beads for Girls Graduation bracelet is donated by The Leakey Collection to our Girls Graduation counseling program, as well as toward a girls’ scholarship fund.

Beads for Girls' Graduation

 


13
May 15

10 Tips for Healthy Gardening During Drought Times

10 Tips-3

This photo of the drought in Kenya a few years ago makes our team members in California a little wary of the drought situation here, as well as other parts of the US.  We’ve been researching some ways to grow a vegetable garden during a drought situation and thought we’d pass on some ideas for your personal use.

Here are 10 tips to grow a healthy garden during drought times:

  1. Well-amended soil is the foundation of a vegetable garden that will tolerate drought. Prepare your garden’s soil by adding lots of rich, organic compost that will help trap moisture and encourage deep root formation in plants.
  2. Practice efficient irrigation – Apply water slowly to the base of plants, which will reduce water usage by about 50%. Drip systems use much less water than any other form of irrigation, and the plants like it better, too.
  3. Irrigate in the morning when temperatures are still cool.
  4. Mulching minimizes evaporation of water from the soil surface, reducing irrigation need by around 50%. Use an organic mulch to a depth of 3 to 4 inches, depending upon the particle size of the mulching material. The larger the particle, the deeper the mulch should be applied.
  5. Black plastic or black landscape cloth conserves moisture. This can be used with tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and the vine crops in cooler areas. Place plastic or landscape cloth down on top of well-amended soil with pins, tear or cut holes big enough for the plant root ball, and insert plants.
  6. Plant in off-set blocks, rather than rows. This creates shade for roots and reduces evaporation. Control weeds, as they are competing with the vegetables for water. Group plants with similar water needs on the same section of irrigation. Cucumber and zucchinis and squash, for example, require similar water applications.
  7. Grow vegetables that do well with little water. Beans have built-in drought resistance. Tomatoes, melons and squash grow deep roots that seek out water and do not need to be watered as often. Vegetable plants with smaller leaves tend to lose less moisture due to transpiration so choose varieties carefully.
  8. Focus on high-yield vegetables that produce abundant crops like tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplants.
  9. Try dry farming your tomatoes – Plant your tomatoes and water them as usual for the first few days to get them established, then water only once a week. Once the tomatoes flower and set fruit, cut off all water. The plants may not look great, but they will produce, and some say the fruit will taste better.
  10. Rethink ways to capture water rather than letting it run down the drain. Use buckets in your shower and sink to catch the water as it heats up. Water from cooking pasta and vegetables also provides nutrients to your soil.

Gardening concerns are also abundant in the Rift Valley, which suffers from droughts frequently.   With proceeds from our Beads for Healthy Gardens Bracelets,  we are educating and encouraging Maasai women to plant healthy gardens.  Most rural pregnancy and birth issues, as well as child development problems, can be eradicated by eating a healthy diet. We’ve also created a school program to teach children the importance of a balanced diet.

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Happy Gardening to you and to the Maasai women in Kenya!

 


01
Mar 15

Read Across America Day

Monday, March 2nd is Dr. Seuss’ birthday and “Read Across America” Day. We have long believed in the power of reading and education, and this charming video about the 90-year-old Kenyan woman who is attending school grabbed our attention and our hearts! Click the link below to hear the story about this truly inspirational woman and then continue reading to find out how it relates to what The Leakey Collection is doing!

Gogo

90 year old Kenyan woman attends school

“I want to say to the children of the world, especially girls, that education will be your wealth.”  Priscilla “Gogo” Sitienei

“Gogo” embodies one of our goals: the empowerment of girls and women through education. Our highly successful Beads for Learning Bracelets have improved education for children in rural East Africa. And now, we are so excited to introduce a brand new bracelet to raise awareness and funds specifically for girls:  Beads for Girls Graduation.

Young girls tend to drop out of school before completing their primary education. The Leakey Collection will dedicate proceeds from the sale of these bracelets to our Girls Graduation mentorship program, counseling young teens to keep them on track towards graduation. We will also allocate money to a girls’ scholarship fund.

These bracelets will be in our partner stores this month and are now on our website. Ask your favorite store if they’ve ordered theirs yet. Together, we can Make a Better World!

Happy reading!

 


11
May 14

Ev – A Love Story

iPictures 192I feel her in the wind, in the leaves, in a bird’s song, I feel her in all of nature around me.  I remember the leaf fights during the heavy southern California rains as a child.   A two year old giggling from under my bath towel as she wiggled my nose; “Ah, I’ve found an ear … then this must be a nose” as she tugged my ear.  The fire crackling as she read poetry, her voice deep and feathery, with the dog, cat, my brothers and me all captured by her passion.  I remember our long talks, our dog walks, our nattering over a glass of wine watching the sunset over the shimmering bay.   I smell the coming rain and think of how I had to describe it, her birth defect, born without a sense of smell.  Holding my hand, head back, eyes closed in fanciful delight as she filled her lungs then in a big whoosh exhausting the cool crisp air and asking, “What does it smell like, the rain”?  “Sweet, cool, wet, and grassy”, to this day she and the first rains are one.

I think of her painting, of having to pose for her when she studied photography, of our crazy stories when we worked together, of being curled up in her bed and holding a cold press on her nose bleed weeks before she died.  I think of her incredible beauty, her smile, her laugh, of her joy in life, of her deep friendships, of her love of animals and her compassion for humanities imperfections.  She lived life fearlessly.

I miss her laugh, her stern but honest critiques of my work, her unyielding determination, her granite like assuredness, her warmth, her singing me to sleep with bar room ballads like; The Night That Jonny Murphy Died.

I smell her on the wind, I see her in the landscape of Africa, I know she is free, I know she is in me.  I love her like no other, my mother, my Ev.

Katy Leakey


15
Oct 13

From The Mouths of Babes

Recently, we were contacted by a first grade class at The Manhattan New School, PS 290 for a donation. They were learning about child labor and planned to culminate the project with a Fair Trade Sale.classroomNot only were we proud to hear that such young people were so motivated to help others by donating the proceeds to help workers around the world, but we were DELIGHTED to receive a letter of thanks, along with their newsletter entitled PLEASE, MAKE IT FAIR in which the children explained what was “BAD” about what they learned. Please watch our Facebook page and Twitter over the next couple of weeks as we share with you words of wisdom from our young friends. Here’s a little preview of what one of those sweet children thought about child labor:

Kids sewing 14 hours a day, that’s so terrible. They want to run away, but the bosses would give them a beating. Waaaaaa!

And now, read portions of the introduction from their teacher and a note from a parent helper:

Introduction  As we learned how cupcakes are made for restaurants, we found out that there is a lot of child labor in the production of vanilla. When we did research about chocolate, we found out that most cacao for chocolate sold in the USA was produced in Cote d’Ivoire, where 200,000 children do the work. At least 12,000 of those children are trafficked…….

Note from Newsletter Parent  All proceeds from our Fair Trade sale & raffle will be donated to the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights.…..(it) strives to end child labor which, as you can tell by our words and pictures, we feel VERY strongly about! (these words & pictures will be what The Leakey Collection will be posting on social media)….we hope the next time you visit a grocery store, you will look for Fair Trade items like bananas, and of course, chocolate. Here are some of the Fair Trade labels you might see…children's fair trade symbolsAnd of course, we at The Leakey Collection also encourage you to look for these Fair Trade labels wherever you shop!


22
Oct 12

Beads for Learning

Beads for Learning


22
Oct 12

Beads for Learning

Beads for Learning