| Aug 11, 2011 |
CGS World Style Stories Awards honors global artisans
Boh staff
By Staff

MMPI and California Gift Show announced the five winners of World Style Stories among a group of exhibitors that source products made by artisans from around the world, and whose ethical and responsible business practices serve to strengthen communities with minimal impact on the planet.

A special awards presentation honoring the five exhibiting companies whose humanitarian efforts and Fair Trade practices have contributed to the health and well-being of countless citizens of the world was held on Friday, July 21 during the Market at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Over 30 exhibitors submitted essays recalling the journey each traveled in creating the products they have made. They were asked to expand on the positive impact on the people and communities served. A committee of VIP judges evaluated essays that met specific criteria, including: identifying the people or communities that benefit; demonstrating the economic, social or educational impact on the country of origin; describing the impact on the greater global market; and specifying the length of time the company has been in operation. Additionally, one "fan favorite" was selected through online Facebook voting.

The five award winners included:

SPIRAL Foundation | Healing the Wounded Heart Project - Hue, Vietnam

This unique shop sells handicrafts made by disabled artisans using recycled materials. HWH currently employs 20 disabled artisans, providing them not only work but also medical insurance, housing, a daily meal, and a recreational allowance. HWH donates half of its income to fund heart surgeries for poor children in the Hue area through OGCDC. They are proud of their work and enthusiastic about explaining HWH's cause and accomplishments. In this manner, they are no longer "disabled" but are empowered to give to those who are even more in need. Products made by the artists are also sold by SPIRAL Foundation fundraisers and retail outlets in the US.

Project Have Hope, founded in 2006, is a non profit which empowers women in Uganda's Acholi Quarter. The women are talented artisans who craft jewelry from recycled paper, often combining other natural elements, like seeds, glass and bone, to create distinctive designs. Project Have Hope uses the profits to help the women establish additional income generating activities through direct loans, vocational training and agricultural initiatives. We also enroll their children in school and offer adult literacy classes. One artisan, Labuka Santa, gave us the highest compliment, "Thanks for taking us from nowhere to somewhere." Hope, and a little help, makes all the difference.

Good Paper is America's premier distributor of handmade, fair trade greeting cards. Good Paper is the exclusive home of Cards from Africa, a greeting card line which creates jobs for young people in Rwanda who have been orphaned by genocide or diseases like AIDS. Good Paper's newest line, Sanctuary Spring, creates jobs for women who are escaping human trafficking in the Philippines and building new lives for themselves. Good Paper is a proud member of the Fair Trade Federation and is committed to fair trade principles, including strong wages, protection of children from labor, and environmental sustainability.

Since 1998, Heavenly Treasures has assisted the poorest of the poor; orphans, the disabled, refugees, widows, and many others. Across the world, thousands of lives are affected each day through the sale of handicrafts. Each product made reflects the heart and soul of one or more of our artisans around the world. Here's one example of a changed life: Once known as one of the worst gangsters in the slums of Kenya, John was a man to be reckoned with. While running a recycled jewelry and wire vehicle business, John, met the Lord. Now he is employing 28 street boys, ex-prostitutes, and gang members, helping rehabilitate them back into a productive and healthy role in society. John is now known as a change agent in his slum community and his life is truly changed. Every Product Represents a Changed Life!

The 'fan favorite', Nancy Dunitz, owner of Dunitz & Company, views herself as an artist and an explorer. These two character traits catapulted her from corporate America to the highlands of Guatemala in 1989. For over twenty years, Dunitz & Company has been working and collaborating with the same community of women (and a few men) to successfully bring fashion forward and fair trade beaded jewelry to appreciative customers. Dunitz believes her contributions to Puerta Abierta and Pueblo a Pueblo, two grass roots charities based in Santiago Atitlan, is another way she makes a difference in what she considers her Guatemalan community.

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