I think it’s easy to get caught up in the notion that fair trade items are just home accessories or indulgences like coffee and chocolate. But when fair trade spreads to something like clothing or shoes that are indispensable parts of our everyday lives, it becomes a really exciting thing (at least it does for me). That’s why I’m so happy that Mustard Seed now sells Sseko sandals!
If you haven’t heard about these beautiful sandals and wonderful organization, read this great feature that was written about them by Marty Swant for the Columbia Missourian.
Sseko Designs was started by MU graduate Liz Forkin Bohannon. In her own words (because she says it much more eloquently and passionately than I ever could), this is how it all began:
“I went to Uganda on somewhat of a whim in the fall of 2008. My academic background is in journalism and communications, so I went to Uganda with the intention of using my communication skills to assist a youth development organization with their communications, donor relations and quarterly newsletter.
… During my time in Uganda, I came across an incredible community called Cornerstone. And in that incredible community there was an incredible group of young women. They were mostly my age. They became friends. The commitment of these young women blew me away. I was consistently challenged by the fact that these women saw this incredible education they were receiving through the Cornerstone Leadership Academy as such a gift.
Sseko \say-ko\ Designs was created to help these bright young women continue their education. The Ugandan school system is designed with a nine month gap between secondary school and university. These nine months are intended to allow time for students to earn money for tuition before continuing on to university. However, in an impoverished and male dominated society, many of these young women struggle to find fair work during this time.
Sseko Designs hires recent secondary school graduates for this nine month period to live and work together, while earning money that will go directly towards their university education.These women will not make sandals forever. They will go on to be doctors, lawyers, politicians, writers and teachers that will bring change and unification to a country divided and ravished by a 22 year-long war.“ (from Sseko’s website)
Now, the beautiful sandals these women create (I dare you to want just one):
Notice a few things:
1. They come in an assortment of colors (which is ever-changing depending on the fabrics that are available at market at the time).
2. You can wear the straps in endless ways.
3. Once you have the sandals, you can buy individual straps to change your style of sandal everyday.
I don’t think it could get any better.