Community Empowerment Projects: 2020 Social Impact
Greetings Alaffia friends and family. I’m writing to tell you of this year’s success and most joyous aspect of our work together—our Community Empowerment Projects and 2020 impact numbers. Spring is in full swing, and we have so much growth to show for it. In one year’s time and with your product purchases as well as monetary donations, Alaffia has planted 6,455 trees, provided 119 pairs of reading glasses, 2,715 sunglasses and 828 bicycles to young students, built two schools and funded 482 safe births. These achievements reflect our collective efforts. We accomplished all of this during a global pandemic because our moral calling to do good surpasses any hardship that we may face.
Togo is within the African Sahel, which forms a vulnerable “green wall” against encroaching deserts of North Africa and is a critical carbon sink for mitigating climate change. Unfortunately, there has been a lack of international attention on savanna tree cover losses, and without support for solutions, deforestation will continue. Since 2006, Alaffia has been planting trees to help slow tree loss and bring awareness to the issue in our communities. This year we’ve continued our community empowerment efforts planting a variety of tree species such as eucalyptus, cassia, acacia, moringa, neem, shea and khaya.
Although COVID-19 delayed bicycle distributions, we were able to meet our goal of 800 bikes to students by the fall. Big thanks to the Portland, Seattle and Lacey Police Departments as well as the Aberdeen Lyon’s Club for their ongoing contributions. Rather than go to the metal recyclers or landfills, abandoned and otherwise unused bikes find a second life in Togo, providing transportation for a student and their family. We also welcome donations from individuals and are always open to organizing community bike drives.
We’ve been able to make many bicycle distributions, ensuring that more bikes are now in the hands of girls and boys so they can stay in school and continue their education. With these donations towards community empowerment, we now have over 10,000 bicycles in distribution in Togo; a great milestone in our collective efforts to bring equal chance for girls to stay in school. Furthermore, we were able to complete our 16th school. I remember growing up in Togo and sitting in lean-to structures for school. It is simply impossible to learn in such conditions, and I can’t tell you the feeling in my heart when today, simply because of your support, we can offer a positive change to learning kids who are so like me.
The Armande primary school was erected in 2020 partially funded by Sprouts Farmers Market through an Alaffia sales promotion in 2019. This promotion and donations from Sprout’s employees contributed over $25,000 towards the school building costs. Communities also participate in building and funding schools. Typically, the community will contribute five percent of the cost of the school with in-kind donations of local building materials, water and labor.
Given the global pandemic conditions, our maternal health activities were severely impacted this past year. This program requires in-person visits of T.A.F (The Alaffia Foundation) team members with pregnant mothers and their families, which were prohibited by the Togolese government during the pandemic. Despite the many hurdles this year, I'm excited to introduce to you our new signature program called Beautiful Arrival. This community empowerment program focuses on worldwide maternal care. As you all well know, Alaffia has been committed to helping fund safe births in Togo, West Africa since 2006 and to date we've helped over 6,500 women. Beautiful Arrival will be facilitated through a new partnership with SisterSong’s Birth Justice Fund, where we will help provide maternal care in the US by contributing 5% of Alaffia Beautiful Curls sales. This addition to our Maternal Health Initiative is the next step forward in bringing our fair trade and human-centered mission stateside. We update our empowerment statistics annually to ensure that our packaging, social media, website, and all other materials reflect this work and your contributions. Alaffia provides up to 67% of program funding, but your support is critical to ensure our work continues. Thanks to your partnership in 2020 and despite a global pandemic, over 11,000 individuals in some of the most impoverished communities in West Africa realized their rights to a safe pregnancy and childbirth, access to education and a healthy place to live. Your donation has not only improved these people’s lives but helped strengthen their families and communities for years to come. I thank each one of you on behalf of West Africa. My hope is that our work together at Alaffia serves as a model for other organizations who wish to empower their communities. Together we’re stronger. Together we’re cultivating beauty, equality and empowerment.