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What your orders mean to our groups

Covid19 Stories from 2020.

Oh what a year it’s been  – filled with so much uncertainty !
Even small orders can make a huge impact to many lives, and it is through your support of buying their products here in Australia that this is possible .
Community Projects Worldwide is not “just business”  – it’s personal , and it is enormously appreciated.

  After the lockdown ended in most countries in May, we quickly got to ordering from our groups trying to have stock here for potential Christmas sales . We had a 4 week window to get things moving, and stock delivered , before a possible re-lockdown in Sth Africa, Swaziland , and also Kenya.
To get some orders completed and delivered, the containers packed , fumigated, and then onto the water was a great relief.
As I write – they are still on the water – and I am hoping we will not encounter too many delays on the Australian side.
To say all the groups were extremely grateful for their orders would be an understatement – this is why we love our business !! 

South Africa, Swaziland and Kenya were all hit hard by COVID and lockdown restrictions were put in place for a long time. Many workers , and artisans were encouraged to go back into the countryside to avoid possible contact with Covid, and also to reduce their living expenses. 
Like us all – no-one knows how long this will last !

Here are a few of their stories about what your orders mean to them personally.
Zaneles Beads
We placed a short notice order with Zanele  – and she was thrilled! (would normally give them 8 weeks for this)
Her group of 20 ladies worked tirelessly over a 3 week period to get a large order together for us, and we have been able to restock most of our colourways in the beautiful beaded necklaces.
As Zanele said “the ladies are hungry, their families are hungry  – there is plenty of time to rest later!”
Zanele herself is a very proud, and savvy woman.She works for herself , has a family to support and has always worked hard.
This order allowed her to fully pay off her home rental debt which she had not been able to pay for the past 4 months.

Givemores Beadwork
Givemore and Advance are brothers , and make the wonderful beaded animals, and keyrings.
Both struggled to make ends meet over the lockdown period. We forwarded them funds to feed their families, and support them, as their businesses and orders had ceased. 
All they asked for was $300 to assist them.
We have ordered some large designer pieces from both of them: sheep, goats, elephants , and some more.
These will be special pieces, and will be priced to sell quickly, so we can get them making some more !

Ngwenya Glass – Sent this message :
“For the first time in 33 years, Ngwenya Glass closed its doors and turned off the warm heart of the factory, the roaring 3 ton furnace is cold and silent.
80 staff go home as the country entered lockdown.   Over the months ahead dust began to settle in the factory.
Whilst the large furnace lies cold and silent, a much smaller furnace is being built that will soon be fired up again.
We will, with the assistance of our skilled and dedicated staff, once again start producing world class, handmade glassware.
With the assistance of our wonderful worldwide representatives (you) , customers and glass friends, we will keep supplying our eco-friendly, handmade,
100% recycled glass creations to all corners of the globe.
Thank you all for your support and love these past decades and especially these past several very difficult months.
We will again rise from the ashes like the proverbial Phoenix, albeit on a much smaller basis.
Hopefully when the world settles down into a safe and comfortable routine and when our markets open up again,
we will be able to switch back to our large furnace to again meet the worldwide demand of Ngwenya Glass creations.”
We bought every wine glass they had available.

Baobab Batik & Tsandza Weavers
Joined forces , and with the support of Nest PPE Purchasing Initiative completed community donations of 7760 masks!  
These masks were distributed to the Moya Centre, local schools, front line workers, local fruit and vegetable markets, to name but a few.
They said “We are proud to be working with our local community through partnerships and relationships we have built over the years.”

Ilala Weavers
Ilala Weavers are also in the heartland of tourism. Their weavers are waiting for orders that are just not coming. They have created a beautiful “Hope Angel” for the year that 2020 has been ! 
I have ordered a heap of these, and they will be arriving in our Sept Container.  This at least has given their beaders some much needed work and “Hope”.

Gogo Olive – Zimbabwe – Sent this message:
“We gave the ladies enough work for a few weeks when we sent them to work from home, at that stage we didn’t know how things were going to pan out.
I guess we still don’t!  I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few weeks trying to work out what is best to do for our ladies – I’ve gone around in circles many times!!  With no new orders coming in we don’t really want them building up lots of stock and it is tricky to get work to them.  So I decided last week that our main priority is to make sure they have enough food and essentials. 
So we are doing weekly drop offs at distribution points for them and regularly checking in to make sure everyone is ok healthwise and that they don’t have any pressing needs with food.  Life is tough for everyone at the moment which will affect donations and I totally understand this, we will just keep going and do our best for our ladies.
I know we will get through this and there are brighter days ahead 🙂 “

Gone Rural – Sent this message:
“As the coronavirus pandemic unfolds we have found ourselves in a never before seen situation where the majority of our orders have been suspended or cancelled due to the
world shutting down during this time. It’s a scary time for our weavers as this means they will not earn income for months until the global economy recovers.
The bottom of the supply chain has been very hard hit and these women feel the impact the most, as they are reliant on international buyers to earn income,
feed their families and stay safe & healthy. At a time when nutrition and access to health products are most important, and in communities mostly without running water and
access to suitable healthcare, we are working to ensure that these women continue to receive some income during this difficult period.”

We love to place our orders , and see the difference the income makes to so many individual families and communities.

Thankyou for your support of all our artisans over the years. Give a gift that has been made with heart & soul .

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The Power of Community

Before we set off for Africa it was wonderful to see the support from our small community.

A huge “Thankyou” to Kathy (my mother in law) for knitting these 160 premmie baby beanies , to give to Penny (my sisters mother in law) who then gives them to a hospital in Sth Africa. These are so greatly appreciated, and what a lovely way to start our trip by delivering such a package.

Also a  big “Thankyou” to the kids, parents, and teacher at Matthew’s  school who contributed to this lovely bundle of hats and “pen pal” letters. I know the Moya kids, teachers and volunteers will love this, and reading the letters will be really interesting and exciting for them. Hopefully we will have some lovely letters to bring back.

They say it “Takes a village to raise a child” which is so true and powerful, however we all need that village – whatever our age – to support and encourage us.

It is the little things that can make a difference.

Not everyone can build a school, or create a foundation,  but knitting a beanie or donating a hat is still significant. Small contributions add to something greater, a feeling of connection, teaching our kids about other lifestyles outside of their own, a random act of kindness , enjoying the joy of giving.

Buying Fair Trade is a choice, it connects you to a culture usually different to your own, and it shows people you care about the world you are living in, and the people in it.

We love our buying trips where we can connect with our groups, and the people who have become our friends over the years.

We love to place our orders, and see the difference the income makes to so many individual families and communities.

But most of all – we love to give the wonderful “small” contributions our “village” has made for us.

Thankyou xx

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How it all began…

How it all began in 1992 …. Our journey towards Fair Trade

Barely in our 20’s we, like many young Australians, left home to discover the world and inadvertently discovered ourselves and a fulfilling career.

We spent 10 years travelling and working in hospitality which included extensive travel through Africa, running safari lodges in Botswana, a wilderness lodge in the highlands of Papua New Guinea and working in a number of wilderness lodges in Far North Queensland.

Our last hospitality position was leasing and running a farm holiday and horse riding operation on the 15,000 acre Millamolong Station in the central west of NSW.

It was time for a change and we missed Africa. Whilst we loved the safari industry and our work in it, returning to it was not an option despite being offered roles at the now quite renowned Conservation Corporation in its early days.

We wanted to start a family and decided Australia was the place for that, so we moved to the Sunshine Coast and created Kalahari Trading . A business that we hoped would keep us connected to Africa and everything we loved about it, the wilderness, the people and the beautiful hand craft that says so much about the culture and resourcefulness of its population.

In 2007 Community Projects Worldwide was established as a retail business at Eumundi on the Sunshine Coast and in 2008 we opened another retail shopfront in Port Macquarie in NSW.

Today we run Kalahari Trading as a wholesale supplier to retailers throughout Australia, and Community Projects Worldwide caters to our own retail customers.

During this time we have expanded our reach to South America and South East Asia.

We are a social enterprise (although we do have some charitable products , and we support an organisation in Swaziland that helps child headed households) . It has always been our intention to build a sustainable model that will survive beyond our own humble endeavours.

We take great pride in working with all our suppliers who are all hard working, honest and smart people doing what they can to support themselves and their families, often under difficult social and geographic conditions. We have had relationships with many of our suppliers for close to 20 years and you can read about them on our ‘meet the artisan’ page of this site.

We adhere to all the principles of Fair Trade in conducting our business.  All our suppliers are paid their asking price and we supply deposits to facilitate cash flow. We all work together in a mutual relationship of respect, trust and consideration.

Today we still live on the Sunshine Coast have two beautiful children and travel to Africa, South America and South East Asia often to work with our groups.

We hope you find something you like, and please let us know if we can do anything for you.

Thanks for your support

Murray & Pru McMillan