Monday, July 25, 2011

Purkal Youth Development Society

Purkal Youth Development Society is one of the organizations AWAZ Voice for Empowerment works with in India. We are so excited about what they do we wanted to share a recent update with you!

Purkal’s mission is to enrich the lives of poor rural youth through education, and empower women through skill development, whilst at the same time preserve the beautiful Himalayan environment and local cultural traditions.” They do this through four main education programs, for pre-school children, school-age children, young adults and recent graduates, and adults. The society was started by the Swamy couple tutoring out of their home and has grown to this excellent education program diligently working to eradicate poverty and ignorance in their village.

Purkal also houses another of our partners, Stree Shakti that makes many of the purses we sell (see their products here).

However, Purkal's education program is truly exceptional. They operate a Learning Center that not only has classes and mentoring, but has a holistic focus and incorporates nutrition, fitness and health care into its offerings. They exclusively help the poor thereby focusing their resources on those who need them most, even including transportation and scholarships to private schools to truly improve the access to quality education.

In April, Purkal announced a new a relationship with their village. Traditionally, Purkal has been only open to the poorest in the community, but the village requested their education program be open to all students in the village for a fee, in exchange for a lease on 6,000 square feet of new property. Now Purkal has the opportunity to expand its education program and help many more students. They anticipate three or four more students each year to be accepted under this new program.

The Purkal Youth Development Society has truly harnessed the reality that education is the best road to lasting individual and community development, and they are applying this understanding with lasting benefits for more than 300 young people in their community. AWAZ is so glad to help with this empowering work and is excited about the new direction!

To donate to the Purkal Youth Development Society, visit On the site you can choose to sponsor a year of a child’s:

  • Food for $200
  • Education for $489
  • All needs for $730
  • Or even an entire class of 21 for $19,550
  • They have many other donation options with a variety of costs, including funding a meal for as little as $85

Visit their website for information about this great organization

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Northwest Fair Trade Coalition Discusses Economic Justice

Last night, the Northwest Fair Trade Coalition met to discuss future plans and events and how to build momentum for the fair trade movement in Portland. We were especially lucky to have guests from Jubilee Oregon and Oregonians Against Trafficking Humans (OATH) with us. Jubilee is a global debt relief movement and OATH mobilizes Oregonians to eradicate human trafficking in the state.

Some may wonder what these two seemingly different organizations would be doing at a meeting about the fair trade movement. However, as the meeting began, the conversation drifted to the broad issue each organization exists to address: economic injustice.

More and more we see the value of working together with like minded organizations to bring awareness to global economic justice issues on a large scale here in Portland.

All organizations present have recognized the inequality in the global economic system and are making efforts to change it. Fair trade groups such as AWAZ and Equal Exchange are working at the grassroots level – incorporating justice throughout the supply chain, starting from the bottom up at the level of individual purchases and improving the way those purchases impact producers.

Jubilee Oregon is working on the macro level, by focusing on relieving the unjust debt of impoverished nations. The debt that is often caused by corrupt governments, usurious interest rates and unfair requirements and systems are not allowing countries to be independent and take care of the needs of their people, keeping them endlessly in poverty without food, clean water and education, much less infrastructure.

Then there are organizations like OATH. OATH is dealing with the reality that economic injustice creates. When these impoverished nations have so little recourse and so few opportunities for advancement, the people’s desperation can create a powerful slavery. At its root, much of human trafficking is caused by severe poverty that traffickers take advantage of.

Creating partnerships like these, between social, justice, fair trade and other organizations will help grow not just a movement but a whole new global social system that empowers communities to be economically secure and culturally strong, thereby accomplishing justice and the goals of each organization.

We at AWAZ are excited to have these new partners on board and are grateful for the insights and wisdom they have already contributed. We look forward to our future working together.

To learn more about Jubilee and debt relief, visit for clear and compelling information.

OATH has an excellent explanation of human trafficking locally and globally and what Oregonians can do about it: Be sure to take their pledge on the home page too.

Friday, July 15, 2011


Fair Trade Resource Network is hosting a photo contest and you can vote for AWAZ to win!

Fair Trade Resource Network is a space to grow the fair trade movement through information and networking. They have a great site with tons of information and events --

Right now, FTRN is hosting a photo contest and the top 12 of the 70+ fair trade photos entered will win a spot in the FTRN calendar! We have entered a photo Sarah took in India of one of the women who has turned her life around using Sadhna and their fair trade production.

The contest ends today, July 16 so make sure you visit to vote. Thanks!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Aurora Sunday Farmer’s Market is on at the Aurora Movement and Healing Arts Yoga Studio!!

AWAZ and other local food, art and craft vendors participated in the first day of the Aurora Sunday Farmer’s market July 3rd that took place in the parking lot of 3rd and Main at Aurora Movement and Healing Arts Yoga Studio from 11-3.

Tasty foods and fair trade gifts were offered from local vendors that included Squirley Jane’s Hazelnut Butter and AWAZ Voice for Empowerment, and great organic produce was brought in by Galin-Flory Farms.

The weather was perfect for the first day market, as more people gathered throughout the day to explore what was happening in their neighborhood.

Aurora local, Jimmy Essien, and partner Monica Rudestam, opened up the new yoga studio last year, shortly after I moved to Canby in 2010. They’re experienced practitioners of yoga, Qigong, acupuncture, massage, Chinese medicine and other alternative healing and I was excited to see them move into town to inspire healthy living and community in one of Oregon’s cutest rural towns. I’ve enjoyed the pleasures of rural living over the last few years and thanks to the studio, have met many lovely, down to earth people from all walks of life to enjoy with.

Aurora is known as the antique capital of Oregon, well known for housing some of the greatest antique treasures from the days and families of the Oregon Trail. As a popular National Historic District, Aurora offers a unique story that you will want to experience! Settled in 1856 by a group of Christians who followed their leader Dr. William Keil from Missouri over the Oregon Trail, they formed the only successful 19th century utopian community in the West.

The area blends utopian ideals with family farms to create an eclectic community filled with the young and old that is attracting a lot of young families. The area is home to Joni Harms, a well known local country singer, one of the biggest Oktoberfest parties located in Mt. Angel and an amazing Dhalia Farm in Canby.

The great antique shops, u-pick farms, St. Joseph’s winery, new yoga studio and Gluten Free Bakery, the White Rabbit, make Aurora an exiting tourist destination for those wanting to escape from the big city for the day.

The Aurora Farmer’s Market will be there every Sunday, all summer long from 11-3 – so come check out this cute little town and start with us!

I will try to make it to the market most Sundays, so if you’re coming to check out our amazing collection of eco-friendly and sustainable goods, just mail me in advance to confirm I’ll be there that weekend!