The Story of Trade plus Aid, continues...

In the beginning...

In 1992 Charlotte di Vita saw a starving child dying in its mother's arms while waiting for medical assistance in Bawku, Northern Ghana.  The child's death was a result of impending famine in northern Ghana, due to no rainfall, which left over 6,000 families' farms in ruins. Desperate to help, she offered her last 800 savings to the local Bawku tribe to buy much needed seed. Though the tribe was in a desperate situation, their pride did not allow them to accept her money and so, in exchange, their master-carvers made wooden Ashanti symbols as pendants for her to sell in the UK.

These wooden pendants became the fashion accessory of 1993 and by 1994 Charlotte had raised 25,000 to enable the funding of food security for 25,000 people in northern Ghana.

"It's humbling to think that six volunteers on the other side of the world can effect the lives of 25,000 people and allow them to survive in the way they have known for generations", commented Charlotte.

By 1996, the sale of handicrafts had also funded the building and equipping of three schools and the training of 37 teachers in order to provide 1,100 children with an education and a more secure future.

On returning to Ghana to see the schools for herself, Charlotte received a special surprise, "...a thousand children ran to greet me. It was an extraordinary experience!"

Charlotte continued, "Our trading projects mean more to the craftspeople than mere economic opportunity. They foster the fundamentals of self-esteem, education, health care, cultural continuity and the chance to protect the past while shaping the future."

In 1995 with the Bawku program near completion, Charlotte was able to focus on helping Jacaranda, the only skills-training centre for mentally-challenged adults in Kenya to create an extensive programme to raise funds and increase long-term income by producing handicrafts for domestic and international markets. In 1997, Jacaranda credited Charlotte's assistance with saving the jobs of its 45 mentally-challenged workers who would have been unable to find work elsewhere if the workshop had closed down.

In 1996 Charlotte di Vita made a donation to the Kaloko Trust, a successful organisation working to alleviate poverty in Luansobe, a remote rural area of Zambia. The Kaloko Trust funds the education of some 700 children at their own school in Luansobe plus 100 in higher education at other schools. In 2000 Trade plus Aid donated further funds towards supporting children who had graduated from the primary school to achieve higher education. And in 2002, Trade plus Aid agreed to donate a total of 21,450 over five years to contribute to school fees to assist the children to continue their secondary schooling to twelfth grade.

To read about other projects funded by Trade plus Aid click here

Charlotte di Vita wearing an Ashanti pendant.

"... a thousand children ran to greet me."

New community seed store, Bawku, Ghana.

Schoolchildren, Bawku, Ghana.

Grade 8 students from Luansobe Upper Basic School, Zambia, 2001