I have not always been a conscientious shopper. Like many people, I naively thought that the products I bought were made using sustainable, environmentally friendly, and fair business practices.
It was about 8 years ago, when I began travelling with the DREAM program to Ek Balam Mexico and later to Nicaragua on a mission trip, that I discovered the harsh truth. The trips opened my eyes to the fact that spending practices of individuals and governments have major consequences for people in developing countries. I came home forever changed.
When you see the truth you cannot hide from it. I needed to make changes. I started educating my family and myself so we could implement new habits into our daily lives. I was blessed with 5 sons and I felt an obligation to model for them the importance of Fair Living.
I have made the trip to Ek Balam with DREAM students 4 times and my husband and 4 of our 5 children have also had the opportunity to participate. My youngest will hopefully have that experience in a few years. We stay at an Eco Resort Genesis right in the middle of a Mayan village at the foot of the ancient ruins.
We participate in a Global Literacy Program and my sons and the other students are matched with local students and they attend school together. They also spend time participating in daily activities like fieldwork, chores and making meals. Workshops discuss Poverty, Fair Trade vs. Free Trade, Structural Adjustment Programs, World Bank the IMF and Global Historical Timelines.
Upon our return we embraced the “Think Globally, Act Locally” motto. We switched to Fair Trade teas/coffees, chocolate and baking items. We began to support our local farming cooperative Shared Harvest, and learned to grow our own organic vegetables. I became educated on where our products and clothing were made.
My teenagers made the effort to buy used clothing first and looked for Fair Trade clothing and shoes. My oldest even designed and soured organic cotton, Fair trade T-shirts (Know Hope Productions) and sold them for school money.
When I couldn’t find Fair Trade clothing I decided to research and connect with cooperatives and started my own business to supply my community. I called it Global HEARTS (Helping Empower Artisans Responsible Trade Sustainability.) I met wonderful people doing amazing things like Suzie from Casa Relief. Through this connection I was introduced to Moyaa Shea Butter from Northern Uganda.
I had recently been diagnosed with Melanoma the worst form of skin cancer. I was lucky it had not reached my lymphatic system. The surgery removed a large portion of skin and tissue down to the muscle of my upper leg. I was left scared - but cancer free.
This experience heightened my commitment to live a healthier organic lifestyle. I researched Moyaa and learned of the healing benefits of Shea, also discovering the amazing story of the farmers, many of them ex. child soldiers and survivors of the Joseph Kony era.
I knew that I had connected with them for a reason. I started using Shea butter faithfully and I loved it!!. A year later the founders of Moyaa - in the hopes of making a more sustainable business for the farmers - agreed to sell me the business. It was now up to me to bring Moyaa Shea Butter to Canada. Yikes!!!
My faith, my commitment and desire to help people are the driving forces behind my business. I believe in the Triple Bottom Line; People and Planet before Profit. I am honoured to have this opportunity, and I hope that you will journey with me as I share my successes, my frustrations, joys and sorrows.
I hope to encourage others to follow their passions, to be gentle with our planet, to be kind and fair to one another and to commit to Fair Living.
And that my friends, is how Pader, Uganda came to Lowbanks, Ontario.