Monday, January 21, 2013

natural living for 2013. Awaz new Hemp Collection for the conscious lifestlye.

a crisp new look on a sunny day with the Awaz new Hemp Collection.
natural living for 2013.

Enjoy our hemp clothing and accessories for your natural lifestyle. Each piece is made from sustainably harvested wild hemp from rural mountain communities in Nepal. These high quality natural fibers make long-lasting quality products and provide ethical paying jobs for local communities.
Hemp has been used for centuries in Nepal because of its strength and durability. It’s the perfect crop for the Himalayas. It requires no cultivation or pesticides, is native, and has long been an economic asset for the rural mountain villages.
We offer wallets, bags, clothing and knitted items from natural hemp and cruelty-free leather in a variety of vegetable dyed colors.
A conscious collection, for the conscious lifestyle.

Natural Hemp Convertible Backpack with cruelty-free Leather

Friday, January 18, 2013

Help us tell the stories l Why Fair Trade Matters: Story Collecting and the Impacts of Fair Trade in Rural Communities in India

To our dear Friends and Supporters,
It has been two years since we last were able to get to India to see our partners on the ground. While we communicate regularly over the phone and email, it's challenging to handle new developments, do things efficiently and really support them in what's needed when we're thousands of miles apart. 

Our online shop is getting busier, we've picked up many new Wholesale Accounts at stores and we have learned a lot about fair trade business that we are keen to share and work with our partners on.
With your support, we can finally make this much needed trip possible.

We invite your support in helping to sponsor our upcoming trip to India to foster existing relationships and support new programs that continue to develop viable strong transparent and just supply chains in trade.  A big part of the work we do is information exchange and sharing. From social movements to designs of new products, we support our artisan partners in their needs and help them grow their enterprises through marketing, information sharing and sponsoring trainings. We also are then able to learn more about the needs, hopes and progress of our partners, which we then are able to bring back and share those strides and successes with you here. 

This year we will compile our past histories and new stories into videos that show the impact of fair trade in the communities we work through a story telling project titled

Why Fair Trade Matters:
Story Collecting and the Impacts of Fair Trade in Rural Communities.
We will join Stree Shakti as they begin to grow beyond 100 women and start a new training stitching program for 50 new women in the mountain villages. We work mostly with small artisan groups and we started working with Stree Shakti from the beginning. After helping to raise money for their new production center, there are now 100 strong women being empowered by this program. Check out their parent non profit, Purkal Youth Development Society, and their programs which have brought quality nutrition and education to over 400 youth in the community.

The end project will be a collection of translated and transcribed videos and stories produced in partnership with local individuals in India. These stories will be a great use in helping more people make the connection between the artisans that create fair trade products and the improved economic justice that comes with the fair trade movement.

The project will focus on four organizations that Awaz has had long standing relationships with for four years and center around these themes:

  • Individual stories of artisans and how participation in a fair trade enterprise has changed their lives
  • Growth of the organizations
  • The growth of the fair trade movement in India
  • Fair trade as a tool for women’s empowerment
  • Environmental sustainability in fair trade

DONATE ONLINE TODAY. Join us by contributing to our 2013 Story Gathering Trip to India.

Our work is fundamentally rooted on relationships. In 2005 Sarah Mitts first went to India where she was impacted during her service learning experience in what she saw and felt. She founded Awaz in 2008 to share her experience and be a voice for the artisans and communities she met to bridge the gap and connect stories, cultures and humans. She quickly realized an opportunity for service (seva) to be able to further help these communities and create justice.
The support for our work is growing and so is the interest to be part of a more just business model and fairer way to view everyday interactions that take into account the real cost of every day goods.

2% Giving Back Program

We are launching a 2% Giving Back Program and we aim to strengthen our work by supporting organizations on the ground in India and locally we want to give back to.
2% of our sales is our contribution to local community organizations and global partners to use your support to give back. We were inspired to help share with you great stories, organizations and products that change lives. We want to do more by helping you harness your choices and energy to create more positive change. We believe in the interconnectedness of our planet. What we do here affects our friends and family elsewhere, if not today, our future generations.


  • Measure the impact of fair trade on women and their social upliftment in the communities we work and share stories about cooperatives and Self Help Group Structures
  • Strengthen our relationships and ways to serve
  • Share tools, ideas, market and product design info, green market trends
  • Explore product and business development of environmentally friendly products that support local craft and expand our product line
  • Discuss and share success stories of environmental and social movements in the U.S.
  • Visit programs of non profit organizations around Dehradun working on environmental sustainability, livelihood program and girl child education assess needs, learn and share stories, provide support
  • Conduct interviews and video record artisan experiences and stories about their work
  • Develop 6 short Youtube videos about the impact of fair trade in these communities with locals
  • Research Social Entrepreneurship amongst young Indians
  • Tell the Apparel Story and the new fair trade Organic Cotton Supply Chain
  • Visit Labor Unions in New Delhi and research current issues around child Labor
  • Develop on the ground logistics and travel program in partnership with locals for exchange program to Dehradun – work with locals to develop their eco-tourism project and create jobs
  • Support the development of a Spiritual Voluntourism program around Dehradun with locals

Help support our efforts by shopping today or making a small contribution online.

$10   ~    $20     ~      $45     ~      $75      ~      $100

Financial contributions can be sent to:
PO Box 15123
Portland, OR 97293 
Your choices are karmic energy.

thank you for the role you play in building stronger communities across the globe.

many blessings,

Sarah & Rafael

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Fair Trade Music Instruments: Ghanaian Djembes & Maracas from Ojoba Collective now availble on the Awaz Online Shop

We like to test out new products at our Holiday Shows to gauge the community interest. This year we could barely keep these new Djembes and Maracas in stock! Lovers of African Decor, Musicians, Kids and drum circle enthusiasts alike loved these new fair trade instruments from Ojoba Collective.

We now offer you a unique collection of all natural, handcrafted traditional African instruments online that include these beautiful Djembes and Maracas.
These one of a kind handcrafted djembes feature all natural materials and are made by a small group of drum makers in Southern Ghana. The base of the drum is hand carved from Twen-a-bo-a, a sustainably harvested, fast growing hardwood that villagers plant around their villages - so no clear cutting the rainforest. The skin is "cruelty-free" goat leather, meaning that the goats were not commercially raised.
Includes printed case for easy storage
Available in small and large sizes HERE.

These maracas are a very popular item and are great as gifts for kids. Inspire music and sound with these one of a kind musical instruments made from gourd and natural plant fibers from artisans in Ghana.

Ojoba Collective is a small Portland fair trade organization that has been trading with artisans in Africa for over 10 years. Working as teachers in a rural village in Ghana gave founders Johan and Tracey an up-close look at the challenges faced by local people in West Africa. Most live at a very subsistence level, and often go hungry, or cannot afford basic needs like health care and school fees. They realized that one of the biggest obstacles to development in the region was a basic lack of financial resources. They met so many wonderful, talented, and hardworking people, but there were simply not enough economic opportunities for them to improve their situations. Ojoba Collective was started in 2003 as a means to help poor villagers in West Africa gain a fair wage for their crafts.
If you got to pick up one of their 100% Pure Shea Butter Tins at our community shows, you'll love these too!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

January 23rd - Jubilee Oregon announces an educational event: "A Matter of Fairness: Ending Vulture Funds and Preventing Student Debt."

Jubilee Oregon, one of our local community partner organizations working on economic justice issues is offering a great training that will highlight the local and global debt struggles and provide solutions.
Two topics will be discussed that seem unrelated but have, at their root, similar issues of economic fairness and justice.  The first topic is the case study of Argentina's debt and of how hedge funds are trying to squeeze Argentina to repay loans that they purchased during Argentina's economically distressed time in 2001. These hedge funds are known as Vulture Funds. The second area is about economic injustice in our own community and country -   students who have amassed huge student debt under false pretense and who will be saddled with unsustainable debt for the rest of their lives. We will discuss alternatives to the current systems that could prevent this large debt issue and some stop-gap ways that the system could be changed today to lessen the impacts of unsustainable student debt. This will be an interactive and action oriented event. 

Date: January 23rd from 7 pm - 9 pm
Place: the Whitman Room at First Presbyterian Church, 1200 Southwest Alder Street in Portland

Free parking in the church parking area. 
To RSVP or for more information, contact Jubilee Oregon 
Jubilee Oregon is a chapter of the Jubilee USA Network, a non-profit advocacy organization that is dedicated to reducing poverty in the world. 
We focus on the cancellation of odious and illegitimate debt that many developing nations face, thereby freeing up financial resources to serve their their own people.  We work for the establishment of responsible lending and borrowing practices in the global economic system today.