Building a NEST
Meet Chantal of the West African nation of Togo.
Chantal Donvide is an artist, like you and me. She was born into an artistic family and it was always her dream to create beautiful things, making craft production her life’s work. Because of her extensive training in seamstressing and batik work, she has developed a successful product line that combines modern styles and trends with traditional artisan craft.
She is the founder of Aklala Batik and it is her goal is to use her business to provide economic opportunities to women who already have skill but don’t have fair access to markets, capital or financial knowledge to improve their own livelihoods.
How did Chantal come into my life? That story begins with following a link.
When I retired in May, I began searching for a volunteer opportunity but was almost immediately paralyzed by the overabundance of worthy causes. So much need in my community and the world at large – how could I make a difference?
Then I participated in the inspiring “Find Your Eye” series of photography courses. In addition to being a motivational teacher, Kat Sloma also gives back by donating 10% of our registration fees to Nest. Curious as to where my money was going, I clicked the link.
And that’s the next chapter in our story.
Nest is a non-profit organization dedicated to changing the lives of women artisans in developing countries. Expanding upon the proven tool of microfinance lending, Nest gives small loans to women to build or maintain art or craft-based businesses. But unlike traditional banks, Nest allows loan recipients to repay their loans in crafts—a system dubbed “microbarter.” Nest searches the globe to identify “existing artisanal workshops that have strong leadership, are scalable, and can transform their communities in one of three ways: alleviate poverty, empower women, and promote peace.”
Empowering women artists? How could I resist an organization with this as a key element of their mission?
And then, the final piece fell into place. Nest was seeking graphic design volunteers. Wait a minute – I could do that! Not only would I be helping an amazing organization but I could do it using my design skills.
And so, here we are, almost 2 months, many hours and multiple projects later. I have found my volunteer opportunity and, in a small way, am helping Chantal reach her goals. By donating my time and skills, I am making a difference in the world.
At this time of thanksgiving, I am overwhelmingly grateful to Kat – for her personal generosity and for providing my initial exposure to Nest. And to Rebecca Kousky, executive director and founder, for giving a rookie designer a chance. And so thankful for the opportunity I have been given to support women and their art throughout the world. Each hour has been a privilege. My heart is full.
Perhaps this is what I was meant to do with my design training – it was all leading me here, to this moment of giving.
All this, just from one click.
Photos Courtesy of Nest – combined in Photoshop by me