In a small village called Terra Prometida in Brazil, a group of special women have strengthened the heart of their community through their artistic talents, the love for their cultural heritage and an undying vision for a better life for their children.
In the beginning, a creative mother of six children named Nilda from this small community of Terra Prometida shared the value of the art of Brazilian bobbin lace to five women. Since then, this passion has grown to an artisan group with a goal to produce marketable textile items to help develop their community and educational resources.
Helping make this mission possible is Annie Doran, who founded Fairloom a nonprofit, fair-trade organization devoted to international community building. Their motto: Enriching the lives of the international community through the cultural exchange of knowledge, crafts and stories. Through Doran’s efforts, the organization links young people in the United States to this community in Brazil.
“The women have created such a beautiful community and I feel I have learned so much from them. One thing they have shown me is how in the midst of suffering they are able, on a daily basis, to fill my house with dancing, singing and great joy. They are able to spread joy to whoever comes into their community, and what they shared with me should be shared with the world. Their art of bobbin lace is a way to connect the spirit of the women and their children with others,” Annie Doran shared in a recent phone interview.
The women of Terra Prometida have touched Annie Doran’s life on a very personal level by showing her what it means to be a part of a community. “These women have brought me so much joy. They have definitely taught me how to appreciate the small things in life. The women and children have helped me to express myself and have shown me how it is okay to dance while you are sad. They’ve helped me realize it is okay to need people.”
According to Fairloom’s organizational history, “Terra Prometida is surrounded by the second largest slum area in Brazil. The name “Terra Prometida” translates to “Promised Land,” and signifies the resistance to downfall and the strength to better the quality of their lives. Approximately two hundred fifty families led by women with great fortitude created the community of Terra Prometida in 1990. Their commitment to their families and community continue to this day with the plans to develop their educational structures and programs.
Community Education Programs Through Global Collaborations
The future goal of Fairloom is to improve the educational resources in the community.
According to Fairloom, education projects such as, adult literacy classes, a small community school, cultural dance and theatre classes for children, and a library have been developed. These are celebrated achievements, but now the community wants to place more emphasis on the educational needs of their children. Furthermore, for these programs to be sustainable, most funding must ultimately come from within the community. Fairloom partnered with the women of Terra Prometida to make this happen.
According to Fairloom’s mission, the area of focus is to help the artisans become a more independent sustainable entity. When they reach their goal, they will support education programs for their families and pass on their skills and knowledge of economics to the greater community. One aspect of this is to build an Early Childhood Center, primarily for the children of artisans and also the community. The center will be guided by one professional educator who will include the talents of the artisans, thus developing teaching skills necessary in building a better future. Also, internships will be created for adolescents from the community so they will acquire the skills they need to become educators, professionals or artists. Artisans and community members will have the opportunity to be a part of a great learning experience while also improving the education program and community.
Additionally, Fairloom has established connections with children in the United States. Children in Providence, RI, Jackson Hole, WY, and Terra Prometida, Brazil are sharing their stories and day-to-day lives.
The Gift of Cultural Art
With Fairloom’s support, Brazilian artists are empowering a community with their natural talents and cultural heritage. According to Fairloom, “People who purchase this art do not just buy art—they buy into something bigger—a chance to learn from communities who show the intrinsic qualities of creativity, strength, and organizational behavior. These qualities gave birth to a community that rose from little material resources to a viable, artisan community. Fairloom’s role is to merge the wealth of this community with the wealth of the world.”
How To Help:
Each piece of work is a metaphor of the many colors of life we can celebrate. You can be a part of this celebration by simply buying their beautiful and original products from Fairloom’s on-line store: http://www.fairloom.org and click on products. There is a beautiful selection of camisetas, scarves, shawls, necklaces and purses to choose from.
For donations, Fairloom is a 501(c)3, U.S.-based non-profit organization headquartered in Westport, Massachusetts whose mission is to create a learning community where young people in the United States and Brazil can work together to gain the skills and knowledge necessary to foster social justice as they build sustainable education and economic foundation for the community of Terra Prometida, Brazil. To learn more about this special and life changing organization go to: http://www.fairloom.org, call 508-264-2729 or write Fairloom P.O. Box 3050 Westport, MA 02790