Saturday, March 23, 2013

2013 Empowerment Tour

Dear Retailers and Friends of Alaffia

 It is my sincere wish that this letter finds you and your family in good health. I am writing to you to inform you of a 58-day nation-wide tour I am undertaking in May and June of this year. I am packing up a biodiesel van and taking this 8,780 mile tour in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the creation of our Alaffia Shea Butter Cooperative in Togo.  Because of a deep commitment and shared will, the cooperative is here today without outside investment. The true reason why we continue to exist is the opportunities each and every one of you has given to Alaffia, and therefore my foremost objective is to visit as many of you as possible as a personal extension of my gratitude. 

There are no words to express to you the profound impact that your support has enabled Alaffia to have on my communities. Two and a half months ago, upon my arrival in Sokodé, more than 4,000 women and children lined up to express their thankfulness. From that moment on, I knew my own life would never be the same. I know now the responsibilities that I must bear for my communities are for life or death, and that this self-sacrifice is justified for the greater good of others.  

I am greatly looking forward to visiting you and sharing with you our combined achievements as we prepare for the continuing journey towards empowerment of all our communities.  I strongly believe that if we march forward together on the long road towards economic justice, we will build on the freedoms for which those before us have sacrificed so that the generations yet to come will realize the fundamental principles of basic equality and full human rights.
I humbly thank you and am looking forward to visiting with you.
Olowo-n'djo Tchala
 A complete map and more information on the Emowerment Tour is coming soon!


Friday, March 8, 2013

International Women's Day - 2013

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we’d like to introduce you to someone very important to us.
Meet Ibada. 
At 26, Ibada is the youngest sibling of Alaffia founder Olowo-n’djo Tchala.  If you’re familiar with Alaffia, you are likely already familiar with her life work.  Ibada is Alaffia’s Community Project Director in Togo, and oversees everything that is related to our Community Empowerment Projects.

“Though she is “the baby” of the family, Ibada conducts life as if she were 50.  She is far beyond her years, and has accomplished more than I could have ever hoped, or even imagined” says Olowo-n’djo.

Before working with Alaffia, Ibada trained and worked as a midwife in many different parts of Togo.  In West Africa, 1 in 13 women die in childbirth from complications that could be avoided with basic maternal care. Midwives and adequate medical facilities are few and far between in rural Togo. Ibada devoted herself to helping women across the borders of different villages all throughout Togo. Through her experience she developed a deep understanding of Togolese women’s unique needs.  She also gained experience helping women who have been subject to female circumcision, and developed what Olowo-n’djo calls “a loud voice” about the matter.  She became passionate about reaching out to women who have been circumcised and are thus at higher risk for life threatening complications in childbirth. This was the beginning of Ibada’s work with our Community Projects.

Today, Ibada directly manages a team of 9, including the coordinators for our Bicycles for Education Program, School Supplies Program, Reforestation Program, and of course our Maternal Health Program.  She is closely involved with all of our Community Empowerment endeavors and oversees the entire operation.  Ibada collects follow up data on all of our bike recipients, mothers and babies to best measure the impact these projects are having in their lives and throughout our Togolese communities.  We must create balance that is diverse and free of bias.  Ibada ensures we’re reaching the greatest needs in every village and community. 

Ibada opening medical supplies at a Maternal Health Clinic
For the past couple of years, Ibada has begun to gear part of our Maternal Health Program to specifically reaching women who have undergone circumcision.  This is an extremely sensitive, tedious process as it is a highly controversial issue.  Ibada gains trust with village leaders and chiefs so she may be allowed to speak to the women about female circumcision; educating them about the risks they face in child birth and giving them access to the maternal health care they need.

Hundreds of lives have been spared through this process, and this tier of our Maternal Health Program is growing. 

Ibada and a Maternal Health Clinic employee
Today, we celebrate the work and accomplishment of this powerful young woman.  Her life proves that focusing time and energy toward making a positive change can leave an immeasurable impact, for generations to come. 

Ibada with her brother Olowo-n'djo, and women who are part of our Maternal Health Program
 As always, we thank you for your support that makes the impact of her work greater with each passing year.
Learn more about how your support of Alaffia is empowering our Togolese Communities: