Christmas is one of our favourite times of the year. It is about spending time with loved ones, and by making other people happy we make ourselves happy.
For Blåbärs first Christmas we have created a range of Christmas cards where 30% of the proceeds go to a charity dear to us - Renewable World.
Renewable World is a registered charity which aims to tackle poverty in developing countries through the promotion of sustainable energy. Oli was lucky enough to visit several communities in Kenya this year with the charity and got involved in the day to day running with the amazing Renewable World team.
In the picture above is Geoffrey, one of the Kenyans on the ground, working his magic. In the background you can see one of the Renewable World wind turbines which creates electricity for the village. We were able to witness the turbine turning for the first time - a light in the village was able to be turned on...the fridge worked for the first time in the local market which meant they could sell cold drinks. It was a special moment with all these things we take for granted, but could see with our own eyes how this creates hope and helps people live a better life with an exciting future.
Renewable World's mission is to give communities access to reliable electricity, empowering them on a grass root level. Something so fundamental to our existence as electricity can have life changing effects in terms of health and safety, but it importantly also gives income generating opportunities to the local community with generators and water pumps. Renewable World works in Nepal, Kenya, Nicaragua, Bangladesh, Tanzania and Mozambique.
We witnessed the fishermen bringing in large fish from Lake Victoria, which were then sold by the women of the villages to the traders who are waiting with their ice trucks to buy. The women don't have the facility to freeze the fish so have to sell the fish the same day. Therefore the traders wait till the end of the day to get the best price, and negotiate not only through money but with sex. We heard some horrific stories and witnessed all this whilst we were involved in the meeting.
Getting electricity to the village, to the women to buy a freezer, allowing them to freeze the fish, empowers them. They are able to say "no" and allows them to negotiate on equal terms.
Above from right to left is my top mate and travel partner Geth, Pastor Gilbert and myself. Pastor Gilbert spoke to the villagers, explaining the ideas and explaining an exciting future. It was emotional listening to him, and witnessing the villagers slowly realise how this helps their life - we would arrive on the white bus with suspicious villagers, and leave, after the talks and the focus groups a village with fresh optimism - no thanks to me, but more so Pastor Gilbert, Peter Mireri, Nick, Geoffrey and Patricia.
Below see Nick the global programme manager speaking with Pastor Gilbert. I think Pastor Gilbert knew every person in every village in a radius of 100 miles - we soon came to realise he taught most of them at school!
Patricia, below, is another magician on the ground who looks after the villages project from start to finish. We travelled with her everywhere to all the villages and it was lovely to get an insight into the Renewable World's team life.
The Renewable World team have incredible larger than life characters who all work in the same direction making people's lives better. It was a pleasure travelling and watching Nick, Pastor Gilbert, Peter Mireri, Patricia, Geoffrey, Sarah and Geth at work - a perfect "team".
A simple item that we all take for granted, a light for example in a village, allows women to walk around safely at night, allows children to learn and read at night, and to stop the hippo's trampling over the vegetable patch ruining the crop! Imagine what you life would be like for you at home and at work without the simple electric things we have in or homes - fridge, hot water, internet...
The posters below were a small way of saying thank you to the Renewable World team for having me on their trip. We're hoping the Christmas cards are another way of making some money for this very pro-active charity!
Below is one of my final memories. A small game of 20 a-side football in the final village we visited. It was a nice breather from all the travel and meetings and a universal language. They certainly had some talent (ok, quicker and more skilful than us, but that's not difficult!).
The cards by Blåbär feature motives typically associated with a Nordic Christmas, and are made on recycled paper. The back of each of the cards have details about the symbol or tradition featured on the front.
Buy 5 of one design for £10, or 5 of each design for £10. 30% of each card will go to Renewable World and towards making a better life for people in need and contributing to the elimination of poverty.
Buy the Blåbär Christmas Cards here
For more information on Renewable World visit www.renewable-world.org registered charity no.1119467