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Badin ‘Conscious Christmas’ supports Hope Initiative

| Friday, December 5, 2014

Badin Hall’s sixth annual Conscious Christmas Fair Trade Handicraft Sale will run Friday from 12 p.m. to 8p.m. in the dorm, and all proceeds from the sale will support the Hope Initiative, industrial design professor Ann-Marie Conrado said.

BadinSale (1)Photo courtesy of Ann-Marie Conrado

Students browse the assortment of fair trade products available at lasr year’s Conscious Christmas Fair Trade Handicraft Sale.

Conrado, who co-founded the Hope Initiative in 2004, said the sale offers a variety of reasonably priced gifts, including scarves, bags, wall hangings and hemp products.

“We sell things that are very affordable, up to quite reasonably priced luxury items like pashmina and silk,” she said. “This is a really great way for people to be conscious of the things that they are buying, how they are purchasing them, that they are ethically sourced, that they are making a big impact. If you are splurging on another person or yourself, you can do it in such a way that it helps and has a much greater impact.”

Junior Chau-Ly Phan, one of the event’s organizers, said Badin residents have worked to advertise and set up for the sale.

“During the actual event, there are Badin girls helping with the sale by working checkout, answering questions, and being personal shoppers and giving gift advice,” she said. “It’s great having so many girls who care helping out from advertising to moving furniture to helping find the perfect present for someone’s loved one.”

Conrado said many of the products at the sale are certified fair trade, while others are the results of actual projects the charity has initiated.

“In other cases, we buy from cooperatives that are already established, but we know that the money goes directly to the women. We’re not working through a middle man or a factory or anything like that,” she said. “In every case, what’s important to us is when we buy from a cooperative, whether or not it has gone through the really rigorous process of being certified to the international standards of fair trade, we know that we are buying from women who are entrepreneurial, that are really building their communities. We know that these purchases make a huge impact.”

Proceeds from the sale support a variety of projects from the Hope Initiative, including scholarships and initiatives for children of illiterate families, Conrado said.

“So where there’s no educational background for that child to succeed we offer before- and after-school programs so that [they] can get extra help in school, that they can be exposed to a stronger educational underpinning,” she said. “[Hope Initiative] uses creative thinking to address issues of poverty and educational access. Because I am a professor of design I like to think that we can offer creative ways to address these intractable human issues and problems in developing countries.”

Phan said she traveled to Nepal last summer to meet some of the children in the Hope Initiative orphanage.

“They were so adorable, but in the pre-teen and teenage age range, so they might object to being called that, and sweet. They’ve been through so much already, yet are so smart and full of life,” she said.

While visiting the youth program, Phan said she was able to see the impact of the Hope Initiative’s work.

“I never knew how many kids received scholarships or how many people would be so happy just getting a shirt when we did a clothing distribution program,” she said. “While we were able to help them and they were so happy, I also saw so many more ways we could help them. The Hope Initiative also has plans to grow and adapt to the changing needs of the Nepali people, but support is needed to achieve those goals. Badin helps those goals come to fruition through A Conscious Christmas and the Polar Bear Plunge next semester.”

Phan said when the sale raises more money, the Hope Initiative is able to disburse more scholarships and host health clinics.

“In one sale, we have the opportunity to provide these kids with opportunities and the care they deserve for the entire year, and if enough people purchase goods, we can help so many more people throughout the year.”

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About Catherine Owers

Senior News Writer Catherine Owers is a senior from New Orleans, Louisiana. She is studying English and Theology.

Contact Catherine