On Wednesdays we are thrilled to fling open the doors to all of YOU! We love hearing your stories…the lessons you’ve learned, the roads you’ve walked, the dreams He’s planted in your hearts! Today we are excited to welcome our friend Tammy Marshall to God-sized Dreams. She is sharing how a trip with Compassion International changed her life and birthed a new God-sized Dream! Thanks for being here today, Tammy!
My husband and I founded Come Together Trading in 2009 after a life-changing trip to Africa with Compassion International. Prior to this, the only travel we had done outside the United States was our honeymoon in Cancun and a Royal Caribbean cruise to the Virgin Islands. Instead of taking our normal, comfortable family vacation to the beach that year, we decided to get outside of our comfort zone and go to Africa.
We had been sponsoring children through Compassion for several years and an opportunity came up to travel with them on a trip to Kenya. One of our sponsored children lived in Kenya so it was the perfect opportunity to go and meet one of the children we had been exchanging letters with.
While in Kenya, we spent nearly three weeks visiting small humble churches in both inner city slums and outlying rural areas. No matter where we went, the people we met were so full of joy and faith that it didn’t take us long for us to realize we were the ones who were poor.
We had gone to see and study the work of Compassion and learn all we could about poverty and what we encountered were people filled with a deeper sense of faith and joy than we ever realized existed.
At many of the small churches we visited, the Compassion moms and other women had set up tables selling beautiful handmade goods. Of course, as Americans who love to shop, we bought everything they had.
One evening as we were leaving a village, our local Compassion guide explained that through our shopping, we had just provided over 3 months worth of income to the women there. We knew we were helping them by purchasing their goods, but we didn’t fully realize the impact those purchases made. What we really loved was that it didn’t feel like charity. We were equals and we were engaging in trade. It was helping us and it was helping them.
Come Together Trading was founded later that same year to share their stories and products with the world. We have since grown to represent over 100 small artisan groups from over 30 different countries around the world. Our mission is to provide a retail marketplace here in the USA for people in developing countries who have no market for their goods. To speak up, in an economic sense, for those who cannot speak for themselves.
When you really think about it, buying IS giving and every dollar we spend is benefiting someone. There’s a wonderful quote from an author named Anna Lappe that says: “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”
Whenever possible we encourage people to support Fair Trade. We’ve seen first hand that it really does make a difference.
You could win this beautiful Banana Fiber Nativity Scene from a group of artisans in Nairobi, Kenya. Check out Come Together Trading and tell us your favorite item. We will randomly choose a winner from the comments!
Tammy Marshall is a social entrepreneur striving to help make the world a better place through Fair Trade. Tammy is the founder of Come Together Trading, a Fair Trade retailer of unique, handcrafted items made by people living in developing countries around the world. Every purchase helps lift artisans out of poverty.
Do you have a God-sized Dream story to tell? We’d love to have you share your journey with us!
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Photo: Barn Images