These beautiful bags are made in Thailand. The income generated by textile weaving is making a significant impact on the level of child malnutrition and general health in the villages of the Pwo Karen, one of Thailand’s smallest ethnic groups. In addition the preservation of age-old skills in the Sop Moei district continues to flourish and to expand.
They come in tangerine cotton with burnt orange leather straps and trim, black with yellow trim and seafoam green with yellow trim.
We left Elephant Watch early after breakfast and drove for a couple of hours stopping for a brief tour of Westgate School.
Everyone had brought paper and pencils. However, the bigger list of things that WWW has been asked to donate include footballs and netballs, uniforms, mosquito nets, solar lamps, water sterilizing equipment, sanitary towels. These will be bought in Nairobi. We visited all 8 grades and even had a musical production in our honor. WWW has previously supplied solar panels to the school.
Two of the girls painting entrance to their toilet and shower.
From there we went on a meeting with the Grevy’s Zebra women scouts who had walked and taken buses from many remote areas to meet us and have lunch and do a presentation of their puppet shows to educate local pastoralists. It was one of the highlights of the trip.
These incredible women track the zebra using GPS equipment. They live in such a wild part of northern Kenya. You wonder how anything can live. A goat had been bought and killed for lunch in honor of this meeting. We had a delightful picnic packed by E W. It was an amazing day and a treat for me to show what WWW is doing in remote areas of the world! We also presented a check for $10,000 to the Grevy’s Zebra Trust.
World Women Work is delighted to announce a new partnership with friend and Interior Designer, Kathryn Schumacher. Following her recent trip to Africa with Singer, Kathryn was inspired to create pillows from indigenous fabrics exclusively for WWW.
Kathryn Schumacher Designs grew out of Kathryn’s twenty-three years as an Interior Designer with projects in California, New Mexico, New York, Washington, Florida and Illinois. She loves color, textiles, patterns, artistic detail and travel, all of which provide inspiration for her decorative pillow collections.
Kathryn has been friends with Singer for over 15 years and jumped at the recent opportunity to travel with Singer to her beloved Africa. As a result of this trip Kathryn was inspired to create a selection of beautiful African oriented pillows exclusively for WorldWomenWork. Kathryn was struck by their vivacious spirit and the pride with which they wore their brightly colored and patterned clothing. “It was a life-changing trip,” Kathryn said. “We realized that, for people like us with so much, how little it takes to change other lives for the better.”
We are thrilled with this wonderful collaboration and delighted that we can participate in the debut of Kathryn’s stunning new Africa collection. The African pillows debut for sale this month at the WorldWomenWork website (www.worldwomenwork.org) and at www.kathrynschumacher.com.
All the designs are individual one-offs – check them out – and tell your friends!
This was WorldWomenWork’s first trip to Botswana and Zambia arranged by Explore for 10 people. It was a beautiful mix of animals and people. We drove from Lusaka to the Lower Zambezi which was an education in itself. The road narrow and full of pot holes used by many trucks going to mines is a true mess but worth experiencing to get the full flavor of what is going on!
We stopped at the Riverside School for lunch and to see where WWW scholarship students have attended tailoring and organic farming school.
It is an incredibly well run school.
From there we went on to the fish farm which is spectacular – 3 ponds holding 9000 fish each. Stanley, the founder, is an amazing guy. The ladies caught fish for our dinner. We met with Isaiah who coordinates all the local projects. What a man!
We visited the clinic and school in Chiawa. It was decided on the spot by my group at the school to refurbish the girls dormitory. Mattresses on the floor are all they have and a toilet somewhere behind the occasional bush. We are funding new double decker beds, glass in the windows and a new toilet building. The girls will paint the inside and out. I won’t go into any more detail since we were updated in great detail at the board meeting. We were highly impressed by all the projects.
You come away after meeting the people involved with such admiration for everything they do. I feel it is so important to make people realize who have so much what little it takes to change peoples lives.
Cherri and Richard you are amazing. And to top everything as we were approaching shore at your camp for drinks there appear a family of elephants with babies coming down to drink.
Our intimate journey through Southern Africa will be led by Singer Rankin, founder of WorldWomenWork. “I had been traveling extensively in Africa and Asia for 25 years and was becoming increasingly concerned about the loss of habitat for wildlife and the seemingly endless cycle of poverty. One day as I was trekking on Kanchenjunga in Nepal, the world’s third largest mountain, and the idea just came to me: buy beautiful things made by indigenous women and sell them to my friends and women who love hand-crafted, quality goods. Then donate the profits to conservation and towards education projects for women. A simple way to change lives and help the environment!”…and thus WorldWomenWork was born.
Nepal and Elephant Nature Park Thailand April 2010
I am more committed than ever to trying to make people understand that the beautiful things that World Women Work sells often come from the most chaotic places in the world. One such being , Nepal. I have just spent 4 days there and it is hard to describe what was once such an idyllic place is today so polluted, overwhelmed with cars, buses, motorcycles all spewing forth horrible fumes and too many people whose garbage is everywhere with a few sacred cows mixed in. The magnificent pashmina sweaters and shawls that I buy are made by untouchables. The creator of them is deeply involved in human rights. The constitution is being written and who knows what is going to happen. But out of this come magnificent things for World Women Work which have been created by the hands of women and men who are empowered because you buy them. I had lunch with the girls from Dolpo who I met 4 years ago two of whom are recipients of WWW scholarships and are now studying in Kathmandu.
And then the abused elephants at The Elephant Nature Park tell their own stories of horror at the hands of men. One weeps looking into the eyes of another being that is so ancient, magnificent and full of wisdom. Bua Loi with the broken back leg rescued a year and a half ago is thriving with her new friend. I hope that she has forgotten the tortuous years of logging, forced breeding and begging on the streets of Bangkok. Lanna, another World Women Work rescue, is the constant companion of Medo, whose pelvis was broken by forced breeding. Today they walk unchained probably for the first time in their lives under the constant watchful eyes of their mahouts being elephants. The last night in Chiang Mai after dinner a begging elephant walks the street by the restaurant among buses, cars and motorbikes in a stew of pollution..
I want to update you on Losing the Elephants as a lot has happened!
It has has been a wrenching experience, one moment total agony, disbelief, the next joy.
I spent 2 weeks with the Swell Pictures crew in November filming the second part, the rescue of an elephant at the Surin Elephant Roundup with Lek. The people of Surin were traditionally excellent at capturing elephants in Cambodia and then training them as working animals. Today it’s entertainment to make a living, reenactment of past century battles with drugged elephants, rides and selling. We arrived in Surin after an 18hour drive. I felt a sense of foreboding. In the chaos of the elephant breakfast and rides an elephant lost it after being teased with food and attacked the woman who was hospitalized with a coma – don’t know the outcome. From there we went to the Army grounds where many elephants are being kept to look at one Lek hoped to buy, but she had died. We find another lady about 30 who has a broken leg from a logging accident in Burma, almost blind in one eye and then 5 years of begging on the streets of Bangkok. This is one of the most desperate scenes I have ever seen. Mahouts and families are living under tarpaulins surrounded by cooking fires, trash and filth. Poverty with elephants the only means of economic survival are brutally chained, some repeatedly throwing themselves on the ground in desperation. Stab wounds, malnutrition the norm, but we have found “Mae Bua Loi”- Floating Lotus – and the negotiations begin. The price $13,000 is agreed upon. She is going back to her village for a farewell ceremony.
We arrive at dusk the next evening. Lek joins the men sitting on the ground, the centerpiece a pig’s head on a platter with money and plenty of liquor for the goodbye ceremony and many spirits. We have had to rent a truck which is outfitted with tree trunks wrapped with blankets felled in the dark to keep her stable on the 20 hour trip back to the sanctuary. We leave about 8. Lek and I are sitting at her feet where fresh fruits – watermelon, mango, banana, jack fruit – are piled for her to munch on the 20 hour journey ahead. She towers over us, her eyes filled with fear, but she is calm. The next afternoon again sitting in the shadow of this magnificent creature we arrive at the Park. Everyone is waiting for us as we drive toward the river. She is unchained for the first time in how long and walks slowly with her new mahout to the river and then into the distance as the sun sets. Tears of joy abound!
The next morning the most incredible thing happens. Bua Loi is walking and munching on grass when out of the trees comes an elephant. They came together slowly with trunks outreached – much touching and feeling. They had lived together in the same village in Burma and had begged in Bangkok. They had not seen each other for 2 years!
As some of you know ‘Losing the Elephants’ premiered to a packed house at the 2008 Santa Barbara International Film Festival. It has gone on to be an official selection at a number of other prestigious festivals including Telluride Mountain Film and its traveling festival which will bring it to audiences worldwide. National Geographic Television chose it to be a part their series ‘Wild Chronicles’ and as a result, a condensed version of the film has been seen by PBS audiences nationwide.
The expected delivery of the re edited film in its full broadcast hour is this summer which will allow ample time to get the film out to the 2009 film festivals including the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival. In addition the film will be presented to broadcast outlets, including National Geographic Television and the Discovery Channel. Thank you all so much for being a part of this incredible project.
Just a short update on my recent trip to Kenya and Zambia. WorldWomenWork helped with the installation of a solar system at the Westgate School in Samburu where there has never been electricity to study by at night. This has caused unbounded joy and the comment “It’s like a city.” WWW is also supporting a “Long Term Monitoring Program” with Save the Elephants which thru daily monitoring of elephants researchers are able to understand their movements, behavior and challenges – poaching and people! I went to the coast just south of the Somalian border to the Kiunga Marine Reserve and met WWW scholarship students who are the first girls in their families to go to school and are now teaching their fathers what type of hook and net to use for sustainable fishing. This is an area of abject poverty and the conditions of life are extreme. From there I went to Lamu and met another group who attend the Lamu Girls Boarding School. One of their dreams is to actually see zebra, eles in the wild. In Zambia WWW is funding from the “ground up” the Chiawa Womens Association, on the Lower Zambezie.The focus of this project is economic empowerment. They will be trained to draw and paint their own designs on fabrics creating tablecloths etc. for sale in lodges and hotels. Their excitement is not to be believed. Some of the women have never held a pencil. There is a lot to do! Singer