To See the Faces

If only you could look them in the eye, the woman who stitched your handbag, the family that grew your carrots, the man who sewed your shoes.  If only…  What would you see?

Would you see people smiling back at you?  Would you see someone with “the monday’s” voluntarily walking in to work?  Would you see humanity stripped of all soul, all dignity, all life, living behind locked doors, threatened with violence, witnessing horrific brutality daily?  It’s not a pretty thought.  Not for a minute.  But what if?

I hear things these days, from the preacher man, in books like The Locust Effect, online.  I read that there are more slaves today (the most modest estimates at 27 million) than all 400 years of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade COMBINED.

And I hear the individual stories…of how the poor are oppressed daily with violence, particularly girls and women…how sexual violence is a very real reality for over 1/2 the women in certain countries like Peru.

…and it haunts me. I pick up my kids from school and try to plaster on a smile after reading heavy heavy things…how girls in the slums aren’t safe even going to the bathroom, stories with names and faces and tears and blood…stories that tear deep in my soul.

And I’m mixing up hot topics…but don’t they mix?  Global poverty, sex trafficking, human trafficking, consumerism, global economy, ethically made goods, human rights?

With my son’s disabilities, I’ve marveled that getting the equipment that he needs means that someone 1,000 miles away, that has never laid eyes on him (or maybe never spent time with anyone in a wheelchair), makes crucial decisions about his life. I know they won’t know him, but I want them to at least see his face…to know his humanity, to know that a soul resides in that chair.

Isn’t this similar, we shop in brightly lit stores with subtle trendy music, and cute displays and we make choices, based on price and labels…but what about the faces?

I want to see the faces.

Working with Noonday, and reading The Locust Effect has pulled back this curtain for me, and it haunts, and it hurts…but to turn away would be to take a chunk out of my soul,

and I WILL NOT do that!

I see the faces of noonday, of Ana getting her master’s degree in Gautemala, of Jalia in Uganda going from homeless to business owner (and speaking to hundreds of women at a conference in Austin this year with not a dry eye in the room!), I see Embet in Ethiopia smiling to have meds for her HIV and the strength to work and send her boy to school.

I don’t ever want to go back.  I don’t ever want to buy accessories that don’t have free faces behind them.   And yes, I know they have their bad days too, but I want to know, as best I can, that they aren’t behind a bolted door, that they are free, free to come and go…free from threats and violence.  I have that assurance with Noonday and I am always on the lookout for other companies that have great practices and satisfied and safe employees wherever they are around the globe.

And to be honest, I’m kind of new to all of this.  (This house of 5 in the US buys a whole lot more than just accessories, and mostly from those brightly lit stores I was talking about.)  It’s time-consuming and hard to figure this path out.  It’s difficult to know where to look to see the faces.  It bothers me that I can’t make the switch overnight, to make sure that I’m not supporting slavery in any way with my purchasing power.  Sometimes the all or none mentality can leave me feeling overwhelmed and backing away…so for now I’m going to keep stepping forward, into the light, finding the faces, learning more and making better choices.  How about we help each other out here {…and you can win this ethically made necklace from Jalia’s group of artisans in Uganda, just by sharing your two cents!  (If you can’t use it, give it mom!  Mother’s day is around the corner!)}

When I prayed last night I thought, how do you pray for 27 million people?  The answer came with tear filled eyes – you just do it.  You cry out and you obey.

Truly, we may feel like drops in a bucket, but what happens when we work together?  What happens when we use our purchasing power wisely?  It gets attention.  Demand drives markets.  That change in your pocket is a voice.  Let’s use it wisely, and make it rain!

Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you take away the yoke from your midst,
the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
if you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.   – Isaiah 58:9-10 (ESV)

Bloomed Trio

I’m giving away a Bloomed Trio Necklace to one of my readers.  TO ENTER:

  • Be sure to comment, either with your thoughts
  • OR share a retailer or manufacturer or handy list of peeps that you respect for their ethical and/or fair trade practices.  

For starters, I like this list at the art of simple that I recently found and I’ve been exploring the page pictured below at http://www.free2work.org (You can choose an industry and check out the grades for companies you shop.  Unfortunately it doesn’t look like their app is currently available in the US for iPhone users.) Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 9.17.59 PM

The Winner is Jen, #20! 

Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 2.19.01 PM

This post is a part of the Noonday Blog Train for our Spring Line.  To see yesterday’s post check out: Kara’s Post.  Tomorrow, March 16th, Rebecca is doing a give away over at www.bexandbestie.com.

The Bloomed Trio Bracelet is also up for grabs by liking my Noonday fb page.

26 thoughts on “To See the Faces

  1. My thoughts: I’m a lot like you. I’m starting to see the faces. We are a family of six and it’s hard to make all the changes that we need to in order to purchase (completely) ethically. Noonday is a big step in the right direction because not only does it help me see the faces, but it helps raise awareness in me (and in the world around me) about the importance of knowing where our money is going and who we are supporting — people or profits. I appreciate your contribution to making this world a better place and hope to follow, bit by bit, in your footsteps. Every purchase is a choice.

  2. Such an important reminder, Miriam. Shared on my facebook page! Love Uganda! Love Ugandan jewelry. So important to think about where the stuff we buy comes from, and such a hard issue to sort through. For me, I buy nearly everything at Goodwill or Salvation Army. While I don’t know where it originally comes from, at least the proceeds help those in need of work or job training or additional services. Keep up the good work!

  3. I think the hardest part about shopping now is knowing that I’m not always able to buy the “good” stuff. It’s a difficult balance between needs/wants/budgets/ethically made.

  4. I am new to the concept of buying with a purpose, but it intrigues me. I have been following the Noonday blog train, starting out mainly because I love the products, but now I can’t wait to see what each new post has to say about purchasing power!

  5. Since becoming involved with Noonday, just as a consumer, I’ve struggled with this same issue. I have faces behind many of the pieces that I wear. It is becoming harder and harder to purchase something just because I like it. I’ve stopped myself many times before purchasing because I want there to be power in my purchase.

  6. Your post is so thought provoking. I agree that is difficult to read and think about but to turn a blind eye is wrong. I love my Noonday and try to research purchases to be sure they are fair trade. I love that people are being empowered through this business.

  7. Hey! I’m a fiend of Amanda’s, so glad I stopped by! Thank you so much for sharing your heart for all that God is stirring in your life. I was truly inspired as I read your post to ask God to show me what I could do in my own life and I am pondering many things. Thanks so much again for sharing, God bless you!!

  8. My family “adopted” a refugee family a year ago and have grown to absolutely love her. She does hand embroidery and in an effort to help her survive (her husband is still in the Sudan, she is here with her 3 children, all under the age of 5) we have begun paying her for her pieces of art and selling it to our friends. For me, she represents the faces behind Noonday. It’s my friend Alik.

  9. I like this website for checking out the ratings of products: https://madeinafreeworld.com/

    Also this website for seeing the impact what you buy has on the rest of the world, and what things you buy are connected with slave labor: http://slaveryfootprint.org/

    It’s so heartbreaking to see and hear about the number of people who are enslaved in the world. It’s overwhelming, because I want it to end so badly but the problems and injustices are so huge I don’t know how to stop it, how to fix it, how to even make a drop in the bucket of a solution.

    I love the conclusion you came to, though. How do we pray? How do we pray for such an issue so big and overwhelming? We just do. The Kingdom of God won’t come in one big movement, it comes through our individual actions, our individual prayers, the individual decisions we make to pursue justice, love mercy, and walk humbly.

  10. Thanks for your thoughts. Yes, we can do something. We start, one at a time, and share what we’ve learned. We cannot be the same.

  11. I had a moment several weeks ago walking through one of these brightly lit stores you are talking about. A moment where the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said VERY CLEARLY…This is BAD. I stood there with my stuff thinking oh no! What do I do? Thanks for this post. You are right you cannot change overnight. What I can do is make these changes one at a time. Great post, thanks for writing.

  12. As I walked away from some too-cheap clothes this week, I wondered “Does it even matter? Do the manufacturers even feel it when one woman in the Midwest decides NOT to buy their products?” and then I read this and I’m reminded that I’m not the only one, that there are more of us every day who are second-guessing our purchases and redirecting our purchases to companies we can trust… I’m enjoying this blog train and the way it is making me feel connected to a band of women who think and shop like I do.

  13. especially with kids clothes, this is hard for me. they outgrow them so fast, so I hate to spend a ton of money on them. but I constantly feel the sting of guilt when I jump at items for less than $2 at times…and fear looking up different retailers because I’m afraid I’ll then be held accountable by the knowledge that they don’t manufacture their clothes ethically. still, I’m aware of this and want to make steps to change and become more of an advocate for fair trade goods and practices.

    love noonday…so thankful for the awareness it’s brought to my life about all of this.

  14. Oh, call me a blubbering sap, I don’t care! I cry, with warm feelings of inspiration mixed with excitement, every time I read a story in the catalog or think about this company and how it is impacting many. It’s beautiful and personal and buying with intention. Thank you for getting involved Miriam and thereby inspiring us! I love your heart!

  15. Miriam! Thank you for helping us think past marketing and colors and trends, and let’s face it, ourselves. Do you have recommendations on other products like kids clothing or shoes? Also, this is random, but what about thrift stores, where it’s a modge-podge of old/recycled clothing? Any tips for supporting our friends around the globe on a budget? Sorry, lots of questions! I’m curious, but I need practical tips as a mom who feels like I tread water weekly!

    • I’m with you Lauren. I have a hard time sorting this all out! 🙂 I think thrifting is an excellent option as it usually benefits the needy in your own community and decreases the demand for new cheap goods, in some way!

      • That’s true-thrifting does benefit the community (and let’s be real, the wallet). Thanks for writing a post about the hard stuff. I love your Noonday pieces-they are beautiful. Hopefully I’ll own a large and lovely statement piece one day! But for now I got to save!
        lots of love!

    • Also Lauren, with these great questions I will work on adding some resources I’m finding. It is SO hard to be immersed in it all without knowing and have no idea where to even start stepping out! (I don’t leave the house too much but would really prefer to thrift as my first ethical option…it’s just a tough one to make happen, being hit or miss and having limited time to shop when I do get out.)

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