February 16, 2022
Since the idea of Karama was born nearly 20 years ago, you’ve helped the SWIRL OF GOOD grow with dignity. With both grief and gratitude, after sincere prayer and deliberation, we will be closing our beloved Karama due to insurmountable obstacles and want you to know first hand. We are grateful for our friends at Mercy House who will be working directly with some of our Artisan Partners so that orders continue for them.
Together, we and all the Karama Mamas smile at the impact Karama has made for our artisan partners, dedicated volunteers, faithful customers, and kids in Africa/ Middle East/ Haiti whom Karama sponsored at Young Life camp. Karama’s mission is to alleviate poverty through creative work, and because of you, we’ve collectively witnessed that before our very eyes!
Thank you for being a part of the journey which has been filled with millions of beautiful memories through purchasing fair trade products. We melted bullets into beads in rural Ethiopia, made stationery from elephant dung in Tanzania, rebuilt an artisan workshop in Kenya, scrubbed leather bags clean with volunteers in Indiana, and hand-crafted Christmas ornaments for holiday trees worldwide. There are too many stories to recount in a brief letter, but each one reflects the joy of alleviating poverty through sharing handmade, ethically sourced gifts. Dignity abounds.
Karama will be remembered not only for our beautiful products but for relationships built along the way. We had the privilege of being more than a buyer to our artisans; we became family to them as they became family to us. Our customers are not strangers, but friends we value. Our partnership with Young Life was joy bringing! Though this feels like the end of Karama, we cling to Isaiah 43:18-19:
“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.”
We believe the Lord is at work even now, doing something new. We trust that with the end of this chapter in Karama's story, a new chapter is beginning in all of us.
Jill Morley & Dyan Larmey Karama Collection co-founders
Karama sent 6,000 teens to Young Life camp in Africa and Haiti. African teens are looking for hope and belonging. Young Life leaders love them and introduce them to Jesus. Young people in Africa face challenges — getting an education, finding a job, helping their families. They live with political instability and corruption, limited resources, drought, disease and famine, drugs and alcohol. They ask the same questions teenagers around the world ask: Who am I? Do I matter? Young Life leaders tell them they’re loved and have a purpose. Young Life was made for Africa. Since launching in Africa around two decades ago, Young Life has grown rapidly, reaching over 1,372,000 kids in a growing number of African countries. They have done this by reaching one kid at a time.
We are delighted to introduce you to Mercy House Global, a company that shares our heart for dignified work. Karama has had the privilege to partner with Mercy House in the past through their Fair Trade Friday Subscription boxes, and we are excited that they will be able to partner with many of our artisans moving forward. Mercy House Global's mission is to engage, empower, and disciple women through providing jobs to break the cycles of poverty and trafficking. Their online store will feature our Kenyan jewelry artisans and our Ethiopian leather artisans in their future collections. We hope that you will continue to help us support artisans through the work of Mercy House Global.
Karama began in 2004, working with one artisan partner in one country (Ethiopia) and over our history we partnered with 47 artisan groups in 8 countries. Karama has invested over $1,391,127 in talented artisans (many of them woman-owned), helping them grow their businesses and provide resources for themselves and their families.
Karama provided purposeful, dignified work for artisans working in Africa and Haiti. We provided tools and equipment, conducted skills and leadership training and consulted on quality improvement processes to help artisans produce beautiful, handmade products.
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