Each February, millions of hands are busy cutting paper hearts, baking pink-frosted cakes, and gathering flowers to put in vases. Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love, but, like many others, we have often found ourselves asking: “what does love really mean?”
If hundreds of thousands of people are typing similar questions into search engines each month, there’s no doubt that love is complex and multifaceted.
Political activist, Cornel West, explained, “Tenderness is what love feels like in private. Justice is what love feels like in public.” Working with handcrafters around the world has uniquely exposed us to these two displays of love: love that is expressed between individuals and love that happens on a broader, community level.
Valentine’s Day Gift Box
When Cissy began working as an artisan in Uganda, she became part of a support system at the Mabira Collective workshop.
As she introduced herself on her first day, tears welled in her eyes as she recounted her fears of not being able to provide for her family. Cissy explained that prior to being hired at Mabira, she was engaging in backbreaking work, carrying water from a well for eight hours a day at a construction site, and cleaning houses to supplement her income. Combined, these jobs earned her a total of just over $2 per day.
Listening intently to Cissy, whose words were barely audible beneath her soft sobs, Eve, an experienced artisan at Mabira, stood up and walked over to her. Opening her arms in an embrace, Eve softly explained: “You have no reason to cry anymore. You’re with us. You’re going to be just fine now.”
The love that Eve showed Cissy that day had a transformative impact. This affection helped Cissy to ease into her role as an artisan at Mabira, who has since become Head of the Purchasing Department. Cissy has also found a place for her family to live, enrolled her children in school, and provided financial support for her parents.
This story is no doubt a powerful display of love between two individuals, but it is also an example of love occurring on a community level. As a handcraft group committed to providing livable wages to women in Uganda, it is not uncommon for artisans at Mabira to express how their lives have been changed through dignified work. To Mabira, equity is motivated by love for their community and the people in it.
As Valentine’s Day comes and goes–as it does each year–our hope is that you continue to think about what love means to you. What unique ways do you display love for the people you interact with, the communities you move through, and the planet you live on?
Show your appreciation for the people in your life by supporting organizations whose impactful reach is informed by a deep commitment to love. Shop all ethically crafted gift boxes here.
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