Artisan Crafts for a Cause is a project that I want to start up that connects students, leaders and professionals in developed countries with entrepreneurs and village businesses in third world countries.
The purpose is to help local artisans earn a living wage by expanding their businesses and clientele, as well as provide business training to people who cannot find employment to earn a living wage. This project also intends to promote local education in developing countries by addressing concerns that put young students at a disadvantage (e.g. access to resources, access to water, overcrowding, etc.)
Please, let me tell you my story.
I was chosen to volunteer with Humanitarian Affairs for their Tacloban Relief Trip on Feb. 2015 to help the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda. During our trip, one of our missions was to teach English and spend time with children from Lucio Vivero Elementary School in Barangay Cawayan. This was one of the northern Barangays (village district) from Tacloban that was overcrowded by survivors and temporary housing shelters after Typhoon Yolanda in 2013.
Imagine having a school built for only 150 students, having to be forced to accommodate 450 kids because of the relocation efforts. That was what we were dealing with.
During this time, I went against authority by getting water for the kids in my class who were thirsty. There was no free access to water in the school and the kids were expected to go home to get water. But there were problems:
- The kids refused to leave because we were only there for a short period. They would rather dehydrate themselves rather than miss a moment with us.
- The distance for the kids was too far. Not everyone lived in the nearby village and some children had to walk more than an hour to get to the school.
I still remember how my heart ached when my students told me: “Kuya Kris, we are thirsty.”
I told the kids to wait in the school and I went to the sari sari store (a small villager owned shop). They sold the big water cooler size containers and I bought 6 of them for 270 pesos. Before I continue my little story, please note that 270 pesos is the equivalent of about $7-9. We could be providing water to over 450 school children for as little as the cost of lunch every day.
The kids told me as I passed by carrying these heavy dispenser size containers that I was their “sangkay”, which is Waray Waray (the local dialect) for “best friend.” After that, nothing I carried around that day was too heavy for me.
The Sangkay Project in Cooperation with Kinamot nga Buhat.
Upon my return to Australia, I decided to start Artisan Crafts for a Cause. My first project in my new endeavor was to connect with a local artisan conglomerate in Tacloban called Kinamot nga Buhat (Waray for “handmade”).
Using previous successful business profiles that I researched such as Pura Vida Bracelets and Kickstarter campaigns, I came up with a couple of ideas to start up my project. I named the project “Sangkay” after what my students called me.
The artisans from Kinamot nga Buhat have worked really hard to help me with my project and finding the right locally acquired materials and colors to best represent my goals for the Sangkay Project:
1) Locally Sourced Materials
The materials we use for our Sangkay Bracelets are coated copper wire, a cheap local resource in the area that is easily available for the villages with limited resources.
All bracelets are only handmade by local artisans from northern Barangay Palanog.
3) Fair Wages
My project focuses on providing local artisans with a living wage for their labor, not improving the bottom line of a “middle-man” business.
4) Profits Used for Children’s Education
After my trip in Tacloban, I wanted to use the profits of this project to work with the local people. The priority is to improve education for the children by funding solutions to address the most common issues: overcrowding, access to water, availability of resources, need for teachers, etc.
Other educational projects I want to start is to give local villages access to training and internet so they can develop their own businesses similar to my project.
5) Unity and Mutual Development
With this project, I hope to connect professionals from all over the world together that are interested in mutually benefiting from collaborative projects such as the Sangkay Project or even developing their own partnerships.
I hope you can join me.
Stay tuned for more information on how this project develops. I will have my very first shipment of Sangkay Bracelets delivered soon and I will definitely make sure everyone is updated on that process.
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