Meaningful travel creates a desire to give meaningful holiday gifts. It is an experience. It is a connection between people and the things they are involved with—their families, their livelihood and their interests. It is an opportunity to learn and to share, moments that provide insight and foster understanding. And, sometimes these experiences lead you to meaningful gift ideas.
As I’ve traveled, I’ve learned about so many interesting projects that have led me to wonderful gifts to share at the holidays. As this holiday season approaches, many of us are thinking about the gifts we wish to give. Just like I enjoy meaningful travel, I’m fond of sharing meaningful gifts. When you give a gift from any one of these organizations you are giving a gift twice. What could be more meaningful than that?
A couple of weeks ago, I asked my 4 year old grandson to help me chose gifts for him, and his sister and brother. I explained I loved giving gifts that helped people, and Heifer International allowed me to do just that. Together we looked through “The Most Important Catalog in the World” published by Heifer. While he identified the different animals featured in the catalog, I was able to explain why people were so excited to receive the various animals. As Christmas gifts are shared, we’ll talk again about the animals. Gifts with meaning.
Founded in 1946, Ten Thousand Villages provides a sustainable North American marketplace to members of artisan co-ops in Africa, South Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and East Asia. Exquisite jewelry, unique home accessories, colorful textiles, charming personal accessories and extraordinary art pieces can be found online or in one of their many stores. As a volunteer at the St. Paul Ten Thousand Villages store, I often tell guests their gift giving is multiplied when making a purchase at the store. Not only are they selecting a gift for a friend or loved one (or perhaps themselves), they are giving a gift of dignity and self-sufficiency to the artisan who crafted the item.
Meaningful Holiday Gifts – SERRV
Dedicated to creating a sustainable world through connections with artists and farmers, eradicating poverty is at the heart of SERRV’s mission. Founded shortly after World War II to help with refugee resettlement, SERRV is a founding member of the World Fair Trade Organization. Since then the organization has grown to include online and catalog sales as well as three stores. SERRV items are also often found in gift shops and at fairs throughout the country. Distinctive décor items, colorful kitchen items, stunning personal accessories, quality apparel for both men and women, memorable holiday and gift items can be found on the SERRV website. Each item is created by an artisan with a story to tell, a story that provides added meaning to the gift you are giving.
“Generating Opportunity, Empowering Entrepreneurs, Creating Prosperity.” A China Ties – Adoptive Family Travel (a Ripple Effect Journeys sister organization) alum recently introduced me to The Blessing Basket Project. Working with basket weavers in Bangladesh, Ghana, Uganda and Madagascar, The Blessing Basket Project sells a variety of woven goods including baskets, trays, clutches, hats and totes online and through its partners, such as Whole Foods. Because each item bears the name of its creator, it’s possible to personally get to know that individual through the organization’s “Artisan & You” initiative. The Blessing Basket Project employs a prosperity wage model resulting in lasting impact for the entrepreneur, their family and their community.
The Gift of Identity Fund provides funding to adoptees “visiting their birth country with the goal of helping them understand their identity, heritage and culture” while traveling with Adoptive Family Travel, a signature Ties Program. If you have a place in your heart for international adoptees and their well being, this is the gift opportunity for you. Commemorate this holiday season and the New Year by giving a unique Gift of Identity ornament that reads, ““Every road, every path, every waterway leads to self discovery.” Another idea–The ornament’s sentiment also makes it an inspirational gift for those graduating in the year ahead, or as people you know are making transitions in their lives.
Just as I’m always seeking my next meaningful travel experience, I’m always interested in learning about new ways to purchase meaningful gifts. Here are two of my recent discoveries.
After hearing about Ripple Effect Journeys, Caitlin Borge introduced me to Trades of Hope. Focused on helping women break the cycle of poverty, Trades of Hope markets products through a home party model (some of which take place virtually) as well as selling them online. The beautiful items you’ll find here make wonderful gifts while also offering the gift of hope. We know of a party going on now through Dec. 9. If you’d like an invite, let me know.
Meaningful Holiday Gifts – Wakami
John Quinn, co-founder of the Sinapi Foundation, contacted me after learning about Ripple Effect Journeys. Partnering with several organizations working in Guatemala, the Sinapi Foundation “wants to participate in the transformation of indigenous communities, while respecting their culture, to increase their opportunities for creating sustainable improvement to their way of life.” Wakami is one of these partners. Maria Pacehco’s vision to connect rural Guatemalan villages with local markets began with Kiej del Los Bosques in 2004. In 2006 the vision grew to include opportunities in other parts of the world with the birth of Wakami. Enter Wakami’s online store to select a special bracelet or necklace for the favorite gal or guy in your life.
May your holiday season be filled with meaning, and may the gifts you give, give twice!
By: Bea Evans
Founder, Ripple Effect Journeys
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