Gifts do a job; their purpose is to bring happiness. Whether it’s organic spa products that have not been tested on animals, fair trade items that improve the lives of the deaf in Gaza strip, or bracelets made at home that help add to the meagre pensions of old people in Zimbabwe, gifts chosen with care multiply the joy of giving many times over because they touch lives.
One such effort, by three determined Dubai-based women, is the Bvumba Bracelets initiative. Cheryl Robertson, Jeanetta Kelsey and Susan Sanchez make these beautiful bracelets from safety pins, recycled electric wire casings, beads and other bits of plastic. The bracelets retail at Dh50 with discounts for larger orders.
“The proceeds go to pensioners in Zimbabwe who are struggling to live on $40 (about Dh146) a month. So far, we have been able to send about Dh4,000 to them via the Zimbabwe Pensioner Support Fund, an organisation that delivers food parcels to them,” says Robertson, who tells us that the name for the initiative came from their home in Zimbabwe, Bvumba.
Responsible retailers go out of their way to include products that help a good cause. Recently, international retailer Giordano concluded the Giordano Initiative For Talent (Gift), a CSR programme developed by the company’s Middle East office to support the local community. The company printed T-shirts in collaboration with Mawaheb, the Dubai Art Studio for young adults with special needs.
The T-shirts, printed in a limited edition number of 3,000, were sold across 15 Giordano UAE outlets and online between mid-July and September, raising Dh60,000 for the cause.
Many retailers, small and big, source products that are certified for having been manufactured using ethical processes. Fair trade stands for long-term relationships with small farmers and organisations with a guaranteed fair price policy. When you buy fair trade certified products, work and quality of life improves and natural resources are preserved.
Sabeena Ahmed, the Dubai-based creator and owner of The Little Fair Trade Shop, has made a vocation of ethical gifting. “I sell unique fair trade accessories such as hand embroidered coin purses, bags, jewellery, ceramics, toys, etc. I try to procure and support as many fair trade organisations in the Middle East as I can. I am hoping to introduce fair trade food, tea, coffee, chocolate, sweets, snacks, rice, quinoa, nuts and olives,” she says.
Ahmed also organises fair trade dinners where guests can buy products. Some organisations also take matters in their own hands, showcasing products made by the beneficiaries. For festive stationery in Dubai, try Smiles N’ Stuff, which sells items created by students from Al Noor Training Centre for Children with Special Needs. The students also work in the shop. This year’s catalogue includes a fusion range of products made by children working in carpentry, screen printing and sewing units.
The season also incorporates a dose of direct charity. You can head out to Dubai Centre for Special Needs’ Dubai Charity Centre in Karama and gift second-hand clothes, books, DVDs and household items. Ideal for teaching children the value of responsible gifting, you can open accounts and receive 20 per cent of any money raised from their items, or, as most do, just donate things.
At the Valley of Love donations are sought on a case-by-case basis. C.P. Mathew, Coordinator, Valley of Love, says, “We guide them to individuals who need help. Some are in hospitals, others are children who cannot go to school because of their parents’ financial difficulties.”