Social Media Inspires Social Change: Leveling the Field

Komil Baror, 24, from Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, works as a tailor in Pratibha Syntex, in Pithampur, Madhya Pradesh, India. A member of the factory's Fair Trade Committee, she has worked at the factory for 5 years. "I'm very happy to work here because there is no inequality amongst workers - the work atmosphere is very positive. I want to thank Fair Trade consumers for supporting us. Over a period of time, our involvement with fair trade will only improve the quality of our product because workers will be more invested in their work. Pratibha's product is already considered the best in the region - we want to be 'double best.'" Komil is very active in the FT committee and proposed improvements for migrant workers like herself, including establishing a community kitchen space, repairs for personal storage lockers, and establishing a designated room for visiting parents of workers, some of whom have traveled from thousands of kilometers away. Komil Baror, 24, from Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, India. May 10, 2014

Komil Baror, 24, from Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, works as a tailor in Pratibha Syntex, in Pithampur, Madhya Pradesh, India. A member of the factory’s Fair Trade Committee, she has worked at the factory for 5 years.

When Smithton resident Karen Primm saw a Facebook post asking people to donate empty prescription bottles to help the people of Malawi, she was immediately interested.

“I researched the organization, The Malawi Project, and found that the Malawi people are currently receiving their medication in small pieces of newspaper. As a mother and grandmother, this seemed to me to be potentially dangerous for children. I also like the ideas of giving to others and finding multiple uses for items instead of automatically throwing them in the trash,” said Primm, when asked why she opted to participate in the project.

According to their Facebook page, “The Malawi Project, Inc. is a 501c3 humanitarian organization established in 1999 in the United States of America in order to supply humanitarian, medical, educational, food and other aid programs to the nation of Malawi and other African nations.” The prescription bottle recycling project is one such program.

Primm began collecting empty prescription bottles from family and friends. She has since sent several shipments of these bottles to a collection center in Indiana that in turns ships them to Malawi. She is currently accepting donations of empty bottles which she’s volunteered to send to the recycling program at periodic intervals. Those interested in donating bottles can contact Carla at the offices of Pennsylvania Bridges via email at carla@pabridges.com or via phone at 724-769-0123 to arrange drop-off/collection.

According to the program’s guidelines, all empty bottles “need to be boiled to get rid of medication residue and labels,” said Primm.

She added the program is seeking prescription bottles only.

FMI about the Malawi Project, visit malawiproject.org.

Carla Anderton never thought of herself as label conscious until she started shopping at the Red, White and Blue thrift store located near the Liberty Tunnels in Pittsburgh. With so many higher end designer clothes suddenly within her price range, she soon discovered why the price of buying new and off the rack was so high: the clothes fit better and last longer.

However, upon further research, she discovered to her great dismay a hidden cost, that of human dignity. Some of the labels she loved were being made using child labor. Horrified at this realization, she pledged to try to be better informed about the conditions in which the products she wears and consumes are made.

While browsing through her Facebook news feed one afternoon, she noticed an ad for a company called Darn Good Yarn. According to their web site, “Darn Good Yarn, founded in 2008 by Nicole Snow, is a wholesaler and retailer of original recycled yarns, clothing and home goods. Nicole, a US Air Force Veteran, decided she wanted to “unwind” with yarn and to take two of her passions in life – art and helping others – and combine them. The result was Darn Good Yarn. The mission is simple: provide phenomenal quality fibers to enthusiasts, meanwhile helping the women of India and Nepal become autonomous and self-reliant. Darn Good Yarn takes manufactured waste, which would normally be sent to landfills, and repurposes it to create spectacular pieces of art. All of the yarns are handmade in small batches and undergo extensive quality control. More importantly, however, Darn Good Yarn hand-selects 300 women in Nepal and India for their skill and offers them appropriate means to support their families that not only allows them to survive, but to thrive.”

Intrigued by the idea of helping women support themselves and encouraged by the hundreds of positive reviews on Darn Good Yarn’s web site, Anderton took advantage of a buy one get one offer and ordered two silk custom made Sari wrap skirts. Upon delivery, she was dazzled by the rich, vibrant patterns, the luxurious fabric and the meticulous workmanship. In fact, she was so impressed she dashed to her PC to place another order for two more skirts while the BOGO offer was still in effect.

“These are the most beautiful articles of clothing I’ve ever worn,” said Anderton. “Furthermore, I feel good about myself – inside and out -wearing them, knowing my purchases helped women to become and remain independent.”

To browse the available selection of fiber goods at Darn Good Yarn, visit darngoodyarn.com.
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Story by Cass Currie for Pennsylvania Bridges