The reality today is that families are spread out across the world, thousands of miles apart, with each of us living separate lives. We get caught up in our own struggles and routines and forget the bonds we share. However, as the holidays get near, we begin to think of those close to us, through blood or love, and we feel an urge to come together to remind us how important it is to have each other. This urge seems to be something truly cross-cultural, as strong here as it is in Togo and other far reaches of the world.
As families come together over the holidays, they put aside their differences and work toward a common goal. Even if the goal is as simple as putting together a warm meal and giving thanks for the opportunities and events of our lives, the goal is reached by everyone contributing what they can. In many ways, the unity I see in families during the holidays reminds me of how our cooperatives and women’s groups work every day in Togo.
In fact, the women of Queen Alaffia are a great example. At Queen Alaffia, the goal is twofold – give women an opportunity to support themselves and their families with the skills and knowledge they have accrued during their lives, and also, to create beautiful and creative products for others to enjoy. Neither goal would be attainable without the women working together. Like a Thanksgiving dinner, a Queen Alaffia bag is made of several parts contributed by many people. One woman may sew the strips of fabric together. Another woman cuts the bag, and others will sew, press, and finish the bag. Each piece is a combined effort with a common goal.
If I look beyond Queen Alaffia to the greater Alaffia family, I see the same pattern – with each of you bringing your “dish” to make the Alaffia goal a reality. The Alaffia family spans several continents, multiple cultures, beliefs, and ways of life. However, we all have a critical piece to contribute, and, united with the goal of empowering the less fortunate, we are truly making a difference. During this season of reflection, we thank you for being part of our family and look forward to what we can accomplish together in the coming year.
Wishing you a peaceful and cooperative holiday season,