July 18, 2012
Acquire some beautiful things + save BIG = help Moroccans
That's a beautiful equation, no? We're gearing up for our annual aid distribution trip to Morocco and that means we've raided our stockroom, attaching sparkly stickers to select items that represent a-m-a-z-i-n-g savings opportunities for you. Quite simply, we need the shelf space (so we can return from the trip with shiny new Moroccan handicrafts for you) and we need the funds (to sponsor a few important projects this year). We wouldn't dilly dally if we were you...the prices below represent fantastic savings on authentic Moroccan goods, but our quantities are extremely limited.
Basheera Moroccan Handira Bedspreads: were $475, now $360
Colorful Wool Berber Blankets: were $80, now $60
Sabra Silk Blankets: were $95, now $70
Paraffin Luminaries: were $36, now $25
Imperial Star Door Knockers: were $75, now $60
Silk Tassel Curtain Pulls: were $75, now $37.50
Bling! Baskets: were $75, now $55
Men's Leather Babouche: were $45, now $32
Women's Sequin Leather Slippers: were $40, now $30
Embellished Market Baskets: were $75, now $55
Leather & Kilim Weekender Bags: was $195, now $170
Silver Stone Cuff: was $120, now $70
Silver Essaouira Necklace: was $225, now $170
Modern Square Leather Pouf: was $220, now $150
Embossed Leather Poufs: was $75, now $60
Embroidered Baby Linens: were $45, now $30
Thuya Wood & Marble Solitaire Game: was $40, now $40
Embroidered Leather Poufs: were $120, now $90
These prices reflect savings of $20-60% on a stunning variety of Moroccan luxuries and every penny of your purchase will be added directly to the funds we've gathered for aid distribution later this year. Please help us spread the word!
January 23, 2012
Prayers for Morocco
Morocco has not been untouched by the Arab spring movement that started one year ago this month via the self-immolation of a fruit vendor. I doubt that Mohamed Bouazizi could have imagined that this single act would have such a tremendous ripple effect throughout the entire Arab region. Upon my last visit to Morocco in September of 2011, I wrote a blog detailing my observations about the profound differences I noticed visiting Essaouira and Marrakech as compared to previous visits to those same areas.
In order to deliver a quick and dirty history of the political instability of the last year: In mid- February (2011), sizable protests emerged in large cities throughout Morocco. Organized by the February 20th Movement, the primary stated goals were constitutional reform, restricted powers for the reigning king and the release of political prisoners. Though not formally stated, the lack of viable employment opportunities seemed to be a serious draw for demonstrators. Understandably so: the "official" unemployment rate for university graduates tops 16%, though real-word rates seem markedly higher. Those protests spread quickly and gained the attention of the king. On March 9th, King Mohammed VI promised reform. The protests, however, continued- with waxing and waning force- throughout the summer of 2011 as his constituents awaited delivery on the king's promises. Late April brought a horrific terrorist bombing at a popular cafe in Marrakech, the country's tourism hub, that claimed the lives of 14 people, most of them tourists. That event certainly did nothing to improve tourism and relax the woes of the Moroccan people. In late June, King Mohammed VI announced the proposed reforms and put them up for popular vote. Just one week later, the people of Morocco overwhelmingly approved the proposal. However, my local contacts seem uninspired and unsure of the future, attributing the approval to people who desperately need the country to stabilize in order for tourists to return and economic conditions to improve. That seemed to be central to the vote, far more than any real optimism for profound change. Protests fizzled during the holy month of Ramadan last fall and things have been relatively quiet, with pockets of unrest popping up now and again.
January 2012, however, has not proven so quiet. Hassane has kept me informed of local happenings and it seems that protests are again gaining momentum. Last week witnessed the self-immolation of five university graduates who set themselves alight out of frustration due to the lack of skilled employment opportunities. Hot on their heels, seventy workers marched into phosphorous mines laced with explosives the next day in a planned mass suicide to bring attention to the same issue. It didn't help matters that ten protestors, some of whom had accused the government of torture, were sentenced last week in Safi to four years in prison for their role in protests last autumn.
As summarized by Reuters last week: "Almost a third of Moroccan youths are unemployed, poverty affects over a quarter of the 33 million population and there are persistent grievances about inefficient education, nepotism and widespread corruption." It is my understanding that people re quite on edge, that the air is filled with anxiety and that tourism is still quite depressed, furthering the strain on the pocketbooks of those who depend on the industry throughout Morocco. I worry for the safety of my friends and staff there. I worry for the students, whose educational opportunities are so fragile and easily derailed. I hope we aren't on a road that will disrupt their dedication and access to learning. I worry that continued instability will delay our next aid trip and the ability of our craftsmen to provide the indigenous goods which are the tools we need to have aid to distribute.
Please send some good juju out into the universe for Morocco.
November 29, 2011
Feast Your Eyes
Our new Moroccan luxuries are now live on the website- feast your eyes on just a few of the lovelies we carted back from our September trip to Morocco!
Leather & Kilim Weekender Bag
Turquoise & Coral Endless Knot Necklace
Silver Essaouira Necklace
Pretty Silver Teapots in all sizes
Handwoven Moroccan Carpet: Amani
Moroccan Wedding Blanket: Sultana
Thuya Wood & Marble Solitaire Game
Colored Cotton Handira
Please consider giving a gift this season that will not only bless those you love, but change the lives of people you'll likely never meet...
October 28, 2011
The story of Little Hassan...
This week we were privileged to assist in obtaining medical treatment for a very special boy in Morocco. Little Hassan (pictured) fell and injured his thumb near his home in early August. We first met him during our September school aid distribution project at the local school that he attends. He was one of more than 100 students we worked with that day, but his joyful spirit and infectious smile immediately caught our eye. However, we noticed that his entire thumb was purple, seemingly out of joint and hanging completely limp. We spoke with his family, who had taken the boy to a doctor for xrays, though they had not been successful in getting him treatment.
Little Hassan receiving his school supplies during our September aid distribution trip in Morocco
Hassan's family raises livestock and he lives with his mother, father, sister and elders in a traditional Berber home in a remote area between Essaouira and Marrakech. His family was incredibly welcoming to us and offered their home as a teaching site for us to give soapmaking classes. They cooked a delicious Moroccan meal composed of several courses which was obviously meant to honor the presence of visitors. We spent the afternoon breaking bread together, visiting cows, sheep and donkeys and socializing with the local women. Though we inquired about the problem with Hassan's finger, they offered their hospitality without us making any mention of potentially assisting with his medical treatment.
When the sun set and we climbed into our car and began to pull away, I asked Hassane (our local staff member in Morocco) if he would oversee the boy's care. Hassane told me he was already planning to assist as he was able and we developed a plan to get Little Hassan the treatment he needed. The following week, Hassane took the boy back to the small hospital in Essaouira for a consultation. The doctors advised that he be treated at the larger hospital in Marrakech. Hassane returned Little Hassane's family home and agreed to take them shortly to Marrakech. Unfortunately, those doctors said it would be several months before they could operate. Though Little Hassan was in no pain as he doesn't have any feeling in his thumb, he was at risk for gangrene, which can cause serious, life-threatening septic infections.
Volunteer and travel mate Stephanie playing with Hassan and friends at his home
Hassane opted to return the boy to Essaouira once more and pleaded for help. He eventually called with good news: surgery was scheduled for October 24th. As that day approached, Hassane welcomed the boy's family into his home (which is near to the hospital) and we were all eager for resolution. On the day of the procedure, the surgeon asked Hassane to please return the boy to Marrakech once more as he didn't feel as though he could adequately perform the operation. Hassane called and proposed that we consider the private hospital in Marrakech- which would be considerably more expensive, but much, much faster.
Some of the sheep Hassan's family raises to provide for their family
The very next day, doctors at the private hospital in Marrakech saw Little Hassan and, confident that they could save his finger, scheduled surgery for 6:30pm the same day. I am thrilled to say that Hassan's finger is intact, he is in good spirits and resting comfortably at home with his family. He spent just one night in the hospital, with his father by his side and Hassane nearby. The doctors cleared him the very next day after a positive radiology exam and Hassane took the lot of them home to celebrate with the boy's waiting mother. The prognosis is very good: in another ten days, Hassane will return the boy to Marrakech for a followup visit. For now, Little Hassan can attend school though it will be quite some time before he may be able to write again.
Hassan's little sister Khadija playing with a lamb
This endeavor is all the more amazing to me when I consider the distances traveled and the dedication displayed. Neither our staff member Hassane nor Little Hassan's family own cars. The distance between Essaouira and Marrakech is three hours by car, and the boy's family is a good 30 minute journey over rock-ridden, treacherous and unpaved roads once you exit the highway that connects those two major cities. So getting this boy the treatment he needed involved lots of early mornings and late nights and long walks to main roads and bumpy bus rides. And yet...they persevered. And it worked! And now Little Hassan is safe and in the process of healing. I love a happy ending... don't you?
The sale of our products is what funds these important projects, so I extend my appreciation to those of you reading as well. It's a fantastic feeling to know that we've positively impacted a life and filled a tangible need. I hope you'll continue to support our endeavors by making purchases if you are able and inclined and spreading the word about the work that we do. We'll keep you posted on Little Hassan!
The oven where Hassan's mother bakes bread each morning
October 26, 2011
Outtakes from our photo shoot
I've spent the last few day sin Atlanta working with the amazing Dana of One Haute Plate to photograph all the beautiful new jewelry and teapots and vintage Moroccan wedding blankets that I assembled while in Morocco in September. I'm so excited to get these new lovelies on the site, as they hold so much promise to help us execute life-changing projects in Morocco. Stay tuned- I expect to have the new products available on our website by November 10th!
Here are a few raw outtakes from the shoot- just a sneak peek of what's to come...