A Shared Earth supplier story

Zuri Design is a supplier for our best buy ethical online retailer, Shared Earth. Helen Scanlan from Zuri Design tells their lockdown story.

Zuri Design is a fair trade wholesale business which imports from Kenya and Uganda. I have supplied Shared Earth for many years and they support our producers with orders regularly. Around 2011 Jeremy from Shared Earth came to meet our producer groups in Kenya.

It was a fantastic trip which inspired our charity work together and we brought 10 young dancers from Mathare slum, Nairobi, to the UK for 2 weeks. We established The Zuri Foundation charity to facilitate the fundraising and organisation of the trip with Shared Earth and to formalise the various grass roots projects we had been supporting within our producer group communities.

The Zuri Foundation started to fundraise when our producer groups in Kenya and Uganda began to be affected by the lockdown against COVID-19. A number of our producers have workshops in slum areas and live in the slum. But we also work with marginalised groups who live in rural settlements in Uganda.

Ugandan lockdown is very strict, all public vehicles were banned from the roads, meaning that sourcing food or medical help for non COVID-19 medical problems is very hard and leading to delayed care seeking for life threatening conditions.

image: shared earth supplier zuri design paper craft
Shared Earth supported one of its suppliers, the Zuri Foundation, to fundraise for crucial Covid-19 safety supplies for its producers in Kenya and Uganda.

Shared Earth very generously donated to our fundraiser and now continue to fundraise for our campaign. Here is just some of what the money will be supporting:

Tabaka, Kisii, Western Kenya

Tabaka residents rely on soapstone mining and carving as a livelihood. They supply most of the world's soapstone supply but it is still a poor rural area. Zuri Design works with a self-help group with around 50 members to supply Shared Earth and others with soapstone crafts. We have donated 100 masks, with another 100 being made.

We also donated four hand washing barrels and provided a days training on soap making as an income generating activity to help with the downturn in craft trade.

Mary Nyokabi, a lady within the producer group says,

“We have been living a scary life especially going to market places after we heard that COVID-19 virus is airborne. But now we are happy that we can protect ourselves by wearing nose masks,”

Paper Craft, Uganda

Zuri Design has worked for over 10 years with Paper Craft, a fair trade co-operative which makes hand-made recycled paper products. It has 25 permanent employees but its workshop is closed. Many are"scared of not making it through" says manager Harriet.

There are women with children who are struggling to feed their families. There are elderly and disabled men who survived from daily food provided by the workshop, who are suffering due to the closure. We are working with Harriet to see how we can use the fundraised money to help. Shared Earth have committed to placing orders through Zuri Design as soon as the workshop re opens.

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