Each woman says her name, how old she is, and how many kids she has. When Festine said she had 8 kids, my eyes got so big! They all started laughing. 8 kids?!!! The common factor that ties us all together is our love for our children. They wanted to know how many kids I have and see pictures. That truly broke the ice and we started sharing stories.
These ladies take such incredible pride in their work. They said Azizi Life has taught them standards in weaving. “It must be right. If it’s not right, they do not take our baskets.” How often do your baskets not make it. “Not often because one person in our group checks our baskets before we take them to Azizi.” That’s amazing! One of the things we face when sharing our artisan products is that some people believe fair trade is subpar. Let me just say fair trade from years ago was. People sold products that were not made well because they felt sorry for the artisans. We are picky at The Marketplace. We stand behind all of our products and I believe the quality will far surpass that of what you would get in a department store. Our artisans truly are talented.
The ladies took me through the steps of making a basket. We walked the steep hills and cut down our sisal. We used a knife to prepare it and then dyed it. We sat in our workshop, aka a bamboo mat against the building in the shade outside and started weaving. The ladies sang, laughed, and created beautiful art! These women are farmers and only weave when there are orders. What I love is that when they weave they do it at home so they can watch their children and meet once a week as a group. Their desire is to one day weave full time.
My heart was full as our day came to an end. I showed them pictures of a few of our customer’s baskets walls and explained to them these mamas wanted to support them to help them take care of their children. It’s mamas supporting mamas! They cheered!! Yep- that’s our common denominator, our love for our children. I can promise you, I will never look at an Azizi Life Basket the same way again.