Adventure beckoned in the summer of 1991, when Rose and I planned a trip to Java and Bali, Indonesia. Little did we know how much this trip would change our lives!
Trekking across Java, one of the most densely populated islands on earth, via public bus provided more adventure than needed, and hair-raising tales for a lifetime.
Arriving in Bali, “The Island of the Gods,” was a quieter, more profound story. We witnessed abundant volcanoes draped in clouds; ubiquitous, verdant rice fields; incense aromas wafting above flower offerings at every home, business, and workshop; haunting gamelan music playing in ancient temples and street processions; and young and old Balinese practicing exotic dances in kaleidoscopic costumes. Here, there was a deep knowing that we had come to a significantly magical location and culture.
Perusing local shops, and intrigued by the various handicrafts, we decided to explore the more distant, tiny craft villages along small, dirt paths. At one point, we came upon a sign that read “Made Suyana Silver.” We looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders, and ventured into the family compound. Despite our language limitations, we were greeted by Made wearing a warm smile and a threadbare tee shirt. He shyly steered us to a small, dusty, glass jewelry case with a very limited collection of the most creative earrings imaginable! How could we not buy them?
And so, Balirose was born.
This long and fruitful relationship continues today. By treating crafts people with respect and fairness, and providing safe working conditions for them, Made has prospered. He married a few years after we met, has two children studying at university level, and now employs 50 people. With nearly 30 years of increased Fair Trade philosophy being practiced throughout the Balinese jewelry trade, a larger number of current crafts people are now afforded greater growth opportunities, while living in their beloved, rural village life. They produce works of art with a beauty and spirituality that have a universal appeal. And these treasures grace every corner of the world, reminding us of our oneness.Our lives were changed, but more importantly for this story, Fair Trade is changing the lives of Balinese artisans.
We know Fair Trade works.
We hope you consider making a financial contribution as FTLA endeavors to raise the collective consciousness of Fair Trade philosophy, and we become the largest Fair Trade town in America!
Phil and Rose