Compassion El Salvador 2018 Day 1: The Country Office and Home Visits

Out of the three-ish days we spent exploring the country of El Salvador and learning about Compassion programs, the most impactful for me was the day we visited the national office and a new center in San Salvador. The national office is full of passionate, intelligent people who are using their gifts to break cycles of poverty, exploitation, and marginalization that have been affecting their communities for generations. We had the opportunity to hear from several directors of various programs but listening to the directors of the youth development and income generation programs was especially exciting to me because those are already areas that I am passionate about and pursuing a career in.

The youth development program (YDP) was developed by Compassion in conjunction with closing down the leadership development program (LDP). Formerly, students would graduate from the child development program (CDP) at 18 years old and only those who showed the most potential would have the opportunity to enter the LDP and be matched with a sponsor to pursue a bachelor’s degree or higher. The YDP extends the benefits of the LDP to more students, allowing them to stay in the CDP until the age of 22 (except in a few countries where military service is mandatory at 18). Students in the YDP receive discipleship, mentorship, and opportunities to be involved in sports, music training, as well as higher education whether that be in a trade or a university degree. The YDP benefits students starting at the age of 12 until they graduate from the program. All but one of my sponsored children is over the age of 15 so it is exciting for me to see Compassion working to provide opportunities to more students than would have been possible with the LDP.

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These shoes were made in one of Compassion’s income-generation workshops. I bought the pink pair!

One of the downfalls of the LDP was the high cost of sponsorship. LDP sponsorship is significantly more than the $38 to sponsor a child in the CDP and so significantly fewer people could afford to sponsor a leadership development student. The cost of higher education hasn’t gone down so in order to cover the difference between what sponsorship pays for and what education costs for YDP students many centers have started income generation workshops. In El Salvador, the workshops range from bakeries to shoemaking factories. Students set their own hours around their school schedule and can work up to 20 hours a week to earn income that helps them pay for their education. Not only are students learning useful skills like breadmaking but they are also learning entrepreneurship and how to run a business which will help them earn sustainable income no matter where they go in life. I firmly believe that dignified employment is one of the most effective ways to fight poverty and so I am thrilled to see Compassion begin incorporating that into their ministry.

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After leaving the national office we visited a center located in San Salvador where we split into groups to visit families involved in the Compassion program and eat lunch in their homes. I visited the home of Maria and her granddaughter Lucero. Lucero has been involved in the Compassion program since her center opened a year ago. She and her brother love soccer and after lunch, they challenged us to a match…needless to say they won that game and the one after it. Lucero’s grandmother, Maria supports her family by selling tortillas. She taught us how to make authentic Salvadoran tortillas and they were delicious! During our visit to the center, I was struck by how amazing the tutors and center staff are. Many of them are not paid and live in the same neighborhoods as the kids they serve but they still work tirelessly to help those kids break out of poverty. Thinking about the Compassion tutors gives me a whole new perspective on sacrificial giving!

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I’ll have another post about my trip up soon but I hope what I have shared in this post has made you as excited about Compassion’s ministry as I am! If you are interested in sponsoring a child send me an email or message me on insta or facebook! I would love to help you get started on what is truly an amazing journey!

~Maizy

Unless I let you know otherwise, my posts aren’t sponsored by any of the companies whose products I mention. I won’t accept sponsorships from companies whose products I don’t truly think are really great. However, links marked with an * are affiliate links. Should you click on the links and make a purchase, at no extra cost to you, I’ll go add to my growing stash of tea, or yarn, or pay the fines on that library book that I couldn’t put down for a month.

 

 

 

Fashion Friday: Rescue is Coming A Casual Look for Summer

Happy Friday!

Today I have a super casual tank top and shorts look for you. During the summer I have a few go-to pairs of shorts and a rotation of t-shirts that I basically live in. This tank top is a pretty new addition to my closet from the store I’ve been running for my internship. I do e-commerce for a counter-human trafficking organization called The Exodus Road and I love the message of this shirt and that it supports rescue for people caught in modern slavery.

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I don’t think I own a pair of shorts that didn’t start out as jeans or long pants. When I shop for shorts the fit is always awkward and they are either too short or too long. For the past couple of years, I’ve just been buying jeans at thrift stores and cut them into shorts that way I have total control over the length.

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Top: The Exodus Road (black is sold out but they also have it in mint!) 

What is your go to summer outfit? Tell me in the comments!

~Maizy

Unless I let you know otherwise, my posts aren’t sponsored by any of the companies whose products I mention. I won’t accept sponsorships from companies whose products I don’t truly think are really great. However, links marked with an * are affiliate links. Should you click on the links and make a purchase, at no extra cost to you, I’ll go add to my growing stash of tea, or yarn, or pay the fines on that library book that I couldn’t put down for a month.

 

She is Priceless

According to Sheryl WuDunn in her book Half the Sky, there are an estimated 107 million missing girls and women in the world. 107 million women who should be present and identifiable in the population but are not. 107 million babies who were killed in the womb or abandoned after birth, 107 million children who were married off way to young, 107 million adults who were trafficked or murdered.

I’m a follower of Jesus Christ. I believe that every person is created by God with value and that that is very clear in the Bible.

Genesis 1:27 says “God created man (meaning mankind) in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

And in Psalm 139:13-14 King David of Israel says “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are Your works and that my soul knows very well.”

From the story of Hagar, to Esther and Ruth, to Mary, and the woman at the well, and Mary Magdalene God shows how He loves women and that He values them enough to use them in His plan of redemption for the world. Despite that for all of history women have been marginalized, abused, treated as property, and told that they were less valuable, capable, and intelligent than men.

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That is why I love the work that Mercy House is doing in Kenya. They are providing a safe home, medical care, counseling, and education to young mothers in dangerous situations and loving on their babies.

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That’s why when Elizabeth, the young woman I sponsor through Compassion wrote me a letter and told me that she had graduated from secondary school and would be attending college soon, I almost cried. I was more excited for her than I was when I graduated. (Also, we’re both business majors and I’m super excited about that too)

Women are priceless and when they are empowered to reach their potential they have the ability to transform the world.

At this point you might be asking yourself “what can I do?” and I strongly encourage you to find a way to lift up the women in your life and community. That might mean encouraging a high school girl in your church and letting her know you see her hard work and potential, saying thank you to your mom or another woman in your life. It could also mean donating a few hours of your time volunteering at your local women’s shelter or pregnancy crisis center.

Want to take it a step further? Sponsor a girl or woman in poverty. I love Compassion International because they work through the local church and empower people to care for children in their own communities. I also love that you are able to write letters and build a relationship with the child you sponsor. Other organizations that offer sponsorship are Indigenous Ministries, who work with refugees in Iraq and Mercy House who offer the opportunity to sponsor a woman in their transition home in Kenya.

Another option? Buy fairtrade products. Women in poverty don’t want a handout, they want a job. When you buy a product that was made by a woman rising out of poverty the empowerment you are supporting is incredible. This rug and these bracelets are made by the Grandmas of the Mercy House babies, enabling all of them to move out of the slum into clean, safe homes, send their other kids to school, and even in some cases bring kids home from indentured servitude.

 

The Five Year Anniversary of Rana Plaza and 3 Ways You can Fight Fast Fashion

5 years ago, on April 24, 2013 1,138 people died and 2500 people were injured in the Rana Plaza building collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The building was structurally unsound and the retail and office space on the lower floors were evacuated months before the collapse leaving only factory workers producing garments for the fast fashion industry. Between 1960 and 2015 the US went from producing 95% of our clothing to 5% of our clothing and outsourcing to developing countries where wages are low and regulations are suggestions at best. The result has been an industry which, in the words of Orsola de Castro in the film The True Cost, “is moving ruthlessly towards a way of producing which only really looks after big business interest.” On the fifth anniversary of the deadliest fashion disaster in history, let’s take a look at why fast fashion is so bad and some easy ways to go back to a fashion culture that honors both the people who wear the clothes and the people who make them.

Fast fashion has its roots in the globalization of supply chains. The cost of living in developing countries is significantly lower than it is in countries like the U.S. and the U.K. and so companies moved production to countries where wages were lower and they could make their products more cheaply. The problem is that once prices began dropping, the pressure for them to keep dropping only grew. Adjusted for inflation, clothes cost less now than they did 30 years ago. According to minimumwage.org, minimum wage in Bangladesh, the largest exporter of clothing in the world is 5,300 Taka or $63.86 USD per month. The global poverty line is $1.90 per day or roughly $57 per month but I have yet to find a place in the US where it is possible to pay rent and buy groceries on less than $100 per month let alone afford transportation, healthcare, and other essentials. If we look farther down the supply chain, leather production is extremely toxic and is notorious for using slave labor. The region in India where most of their cotton is grown is also known as the suicide belt. It is very difficult for organic cotton farmers to compete with conventional cotton farming, their yields are much smaller in comparison to the amount of land they need but it is very expensive to buy GMO cotton seed, fertilizer, and pesticide, so farmers often have to go deeply into debt for their initial investment. A bad year or two, a medical emergency or a wedding in the family and often farmers are forced to choose between slavery or suicide. In addition, the chemicals involved in conventional cotton farming are being linked to birth defects and brain cancer in the people exposed to them.

The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world, after the oil industry. Lead based dyes, toxic pesticides and fertilizers, and plastic are pumped into our water and atmosphere every day. Polyester, spandex, and other synthetic fibers shed microscopic plastic particles every time you wash them, in fact according to a study published by Orb Media, 94% of American tap water is contaminated with plastic particles which at best will never break down and clutter our world and at worst leach hormone disrupting and cancer-causing chemicals.

So what can you do? The plastic is already in your water and fair-trade clothes are too expensive. It’s probably best to just give up.

NOOO!!!

You can make a difference, and fashion is not a lost cause. I’m a college student who has been slowly transitioning from fast fashion to slow fashion for about two years and it’s not easy, it’s definitely less convenient than just shopping the way everyone else does, but it’s also not impossible so here are three easy steps to quitting fast fashion today.

1 Stop buying new stuff unless you absolutely need it.

I love shopping, it’s enjoyable to browse the racks, try on clothes, and it’s so exciting when you score a great deal on something you love. But instead of mindlessly or impulsively shopping, buy things intentionally that will actually add value to your life and style. A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to wear a piece with more than half of the clothes you already own and you should be able to foreseeably wear the piece 30 times before you are done with it.

2 Thrift

If possible, when you do buy “new” clothes try to find them used. I’ve talked about how much I love *ThredUP, local consignment stores are also a great place to look and if you are into sewing, lots of indie fabric stores like Indiesew.com offer deadstock fabric that has been purchased by brands and then discarded.

3 Invest in quality.

Paying more upfront for clothes that will last will actually save you money in the long term. I have a pair of jeans that were handed down to me by my sister. I’m not sure how old they are but I’ve had them for about three years, they were probably about $70 originally. They’ve faded a bit but the fabric is still in great shape and I’ll be able to keep wearing them for years to come. I have another pair of jeans that I bought for $30 and they lasted 6 months before they were too stretched out to wear. Timeless styles, ethical manufacturing, and good quality are worth the investment and are way cheaper over time.

What are your thoughts on the fashion industry? Are you inspired to start making the switch to slow fashion? Tell me in the comments!

~Maizy

Unless I let you know otherwise, my posts aren’t sponsored by any of the companies whose products I mention. I won’t accept sponsorships from companies whose products I don’t truly think are really great. However, links marked with an * are affiliate links. Should you click on the links and make a purchase, at no extra cost to you, I’ll go add to my growing stash of tea, or yarn, or pay the fines on that library book that I couldn’t put down for a month.

 

 

 

 

Redeeming Consumerism: Fair Trade Friday

Today’s Redeeming Consumerism post is about Fair Trade Friday. Fair Trade Friday is a subscription service that provides support to impoverished women by providing you with adorable fair trade products every month. They have three different subscription options. The Original Box for $31.99/month is a box full of various fair trade goodies that range from skin care products to luxury fair trade fashion. The Bracelet of the Month for $13.99/month is a beautiful fair trade bracelet. The Earring of the Month for $11.99/month is a fun fair trade earring. I have subscribed to the Earring of the Month in the past and I have posted about some of my favorites herehere, and here. Many people love subscription boxes because everyone loves getting fun mail each month to liven up the bills and junk mail. Fair Trade Friday is an awesome way to do that as well as find out about ethical brands you may never have heard about and to support impoverished artisans.

August’s earring of the month is so cute!

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And now for some fun!

I am giving away two pairs of the August Fair Trade Friday earring of the month!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please enter only one giveaway. If you enter one you will not be eligible to win the second pair.

~Maizy

Unless I let you know otherwise, my posts aren’t sponsored by any of the companies whose products I mention. I won’t accept sponsorships from companies whose products I don’t use all the time and think are really great. However, links marked with an * are affiliate links. Should you click on the links and make a purchase, at no extra cost to you, I’ll go add to my growing stash of tea, or pay the fines on that library book that I couldn’t put down for a month.

 

Redeeming Consumerism: American Eagle

Today’s post is a continuation of my Redeeming Consumerism series. Today I am evaluating a mainstream brand’s labor and manufacturing policies. The brand I have chosen is American Eagle Outfitters.

My four categories are Wages, Worker Safety, Forced and Child Labor, and Enforcement

Wages: Suppliers are required to comply with all compensation laws including wages, overtime hours, piece rates and benefits. Workers may not be required to work more than 60 hours a week and are entitled to at least one day off in a seven day period. Suppliers are required to provide all benefits that are required by law including meals, transportation, health care, child care, and leave for family, medical, or religious reasons. As required by law suppliers must contribute to workers’ social security or insurance programs.

Worker Safety: Suppliers must comply with all laws regulating worker safety. In addition, workers must have access to potable water and sanitary facilities and workplaces and housing facilities, if provided for workers, must have adequate fire safety, lighting, and ventilation.

Forced and Child Labor: Suppliers are prohibited from using child labor as defined by law, in addition suppliers are prohibited from employing workers under the age of 15, or the compulsory age to attend school. Forced labor of any kind is prohibited including prisoners, bonded, or indentured workers.

Enforcement: All suppliers must contractually agree to American Eagle Outfitters Vendor Code of Conduct and are subject to inspections including inspection of all records and documentation and private worker interviews at least once a year. AEO inspections are unannounced and private party inspections are semi-unannounced.

I was pleasantly surprised by American Eagle Outfitters’ policies for vendor conduct, especially the fact that their code of conduct is a contractual agreement. Many companies have a voluntary code of conduct which means that suppliers are not required to comply with it in order to do business with the company. I think that American Eagle is a good choice for consumers desiring to shop consciously and ethically.

All of my information is directly from American Eagle’s website here. If you want more information you can go there, or send AE an email  or message on social media.

Have a great day!

~Maizy

Unless I let you know otherwise, my posts aren’t sponsored by any of the companies whose products I mention. I won’t accept sponsorships from companies whose products I don’t use all the time and think are really great. However, links marked with an * are affiliate links. Should you click on the links and make a purchase, at no extra cost to you, I’ll go add to my growing stash of tea, or pay the fines on that library book that I couldn’t put down for a month.

 

Redeeming Consumerism: Rey Swimwear

 

Hello!

I’m back with another Redeeming Consumerism post! Today I am talking about *Rey Swimwear. Rey Swimwear is a swimsuit brand based in California and founded by Jessica Rey, a former power ranger, author, mom, and entrepreneur. Their swimsuits are adorable and very unique. I had a really hard time deciding which one I wanted to order but I finally decided on Audrey in Pineapple. I’m wearing it in the pictures and isn’t it adorable? Rey Swimwear was founded with the goal of creating a modest alternative to modern swimsuits, specifically the bikini. I love their philosophy that you don’t have to show a lot of skin to be beautiful or stylish.

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ignore my tan line!

While I would love a more complete policy on maufacturing standards and procedures as well as an auditing policy Rey Swimwear is very upfront about their commitment to ethical manufacturing.

“All of our swimsuits are proudly and ethically manufactured in California. Rey Swimwear only works with partners who share our values and believe in ethical production. Our manufacturers have rigorous compliance standards against which they’re constantly assessed. They’re responsible for upholding production and sourcing practices across areas such as human rights, health/safety, and fair wages, thus respecting the dignity of all people- not only those who wear our swimsuits, but those who make them.  Our dedication to ethical production is reflected in our pricing.” https://www.reyswimwear.com/pages/faq

These suits are definitely not a cheap suit that you buy at Target and throw away at the end of the summer. I haven’t had my suit long enough to testify to the lasting power but quality of the fabric and the seams is definitely somthing that is going to last.

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All of Rey Swimwear’s suits are very classy and cute. I especially love Regina in emerald and Ann in garden party. And they just introduced plus sizes to the line!

Have a great day!

~Maizy

Unless I let you know otherwise, my posts aren’t sponsored by any of the companies whose products I mention. I won’t accept sponsorships from companies whose products I don’t use all the time and think are really great; you know I’m classier than that;). However, links marked with an * are affiliate links. Should you click on the links and make a purchase, I’ll go add to my growing stash of tea, or pay the fines on that library book that I couldn’t put down for a month. I am a Rey Swimwear affiliate. If you click on the link in the beginning of this post, or on the widget on the sidebar, I will be paid for any purchase that you make, at no extra cost to you.

Redeeming Consumerism: Ann Taylor and Ann Taylor Loft

Hello!

This is the second post in my Redeeming Consumerism series. Today I will be sharing my research on a well-known company and whether I believe their products to be an ethical choice or not. The company I have chosen for this month is Ann Taylor and Ann Taylor Loft. I have four categories: Wages, Worker Safety, Child Labor, and Enforcement.

Wages

ANN Inc. has a strict policy against slavery and human trafficking and discloses it according to the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act. Their actions include, verification of supply chains; independent, unannounced audits; supplier certification, and yearly recertification; and staff training on human trafficking and slavery prevention.

I did not find ANN Inc.’s policy on wages on their website.

Worker Safety

ANN Inc. does not source from the factories that were involved in the tragedies in Bangladesh. I did not find exact policies for worker safety but they discuss worker safety and supplier cooperation herehere, here, and here. They list their sourcing countries here.

ANN Inc. has banned the use of sandblasting in order to promote worker safety.

Child Labor

ANN Inc. does not knowingly sell products that use raw materials from countries that condone the use of forced child labor and have prohibited the sourcing of cotton from Uzbekistan.

I did not find a policy on voluntary child labor on the ANN Inc. website.

Enforcement

ANN Inc’s Global Supplier Principles and Guidelines are the minimum requirements which a supplier must meet in order to maintain a working relationship with the company.

ANN Inc’s Corporate Social Responsibility department approve every country before business can be placed as well as inspecting and approving all production facilities before manufacturing their product there.

Overall, I think Ann Taylor and Ann Taylor Loft are good choices for a consumer who wants to buy ethically produced fashion. As I have mentioned in this post, there are some gaps in the policies I could find on their website. If this is something that interests you, send an email, or post on social media asking Ann Taylor or Loft about their policies. It’s always good to get the conversation started.

Have a great day!

~Maizy

All of the information included in this article can be found on the ANN Inc. website ANNInc.com.

Unless I let you know otherwise, my posts aren’t sponsored by any of the companies whose products I mention. I won’t accept sponsorships from companies whose products I don’t use all the time and think are really great; you know I’m classier than that;). However, links marked with an * are affiliate links. Should you click on the links and make a purchase, I’ll go add to my growing stash of tea, or pay the fines on that library book that I couldn’t put down for a month.

If you are interested in reading my earlier Redeeming Consumerism posts: How Consumer Culture Supports SlaveryThe Refugee Project

 

 

Redeeming Consumerism: The Refugee Project

Hello!

I am back with the second post of my redeeming consumerism series.The Refugee Project is a Houston based organization that equips, empowers, and employs refugee women in the Houston area. They teach useful skills to the women they serve and employ them in making knitted and crocheted products that they sell on their online store. %100 of the proceeds from the store go to sustaining the refugee women and providing them with a fair wage. I highly reccomend that you visit their website and read some of the stories of the women that they serve, as well as checking out their social media to see what they are currently up to!

I own these tan boot cuffs and my mom owns These earrings. The earrings are currently sold out but will hopefully be in stock again soon. I styled them for you so you can get an idea of how you can wear some of the pieces from this company.

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I have also been eyeing this clutch, I think it would be a fantastic sunglasses case as well as this bracelet, and these fingerless gloves.

These are accessories that you can feel great about purchasing because you know that they are helping women in need to support themselves and their children and are not produced by slaves or people in low-paying, hazardous conditions.

Consumerism does not have to be a negative thing. There is wisodm in moderation but consumers can also have a very powerful voice when we choose to vote with our dollars for things that are meaningful and make the world a better place isntead of fueling mindless buying, and the exploitation of the vulnerable.

Have a great day!

~Maizy