Sabahar: Ethiopian Textiles
Sabahar is the Fair Trade Artisan group of our textile partner, Woven Promises. The workshop is located in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and is owned by an amazing French Canadian woman named Kathy Marshall. The goal of the partnership is to provide a continuous improvement in the quality of the artisans’ lives and maintain a deep appreciation of the Ethiopian cultural heritage and traditions.
Ethiopia is the 5th poorest country in the world and finding employment is extremely difficult and the work being done here by Kathy and the workshop really touches so many lives in a positive way. The artisans feel they are working amidst an oasis of stability in an otherwise harsh existence.
There are now 56 staff members that work at the workshop itself ranging in age from 20 to 63 years old. They weave, spin, raise silkworms and dye the fibers, warp looms and are the "finishers" that do the hand knotting and other steps to complete each piece. Men are the weavers. This is a long tradition in Ethiopia. The women primarily spin the cotton and silk, participate in the dyeing process, and are the finishers. The men warp the large traditional looms and weave. They also participate in the dyeing process.
Sabahar introduced Eri Silk to Ethiopia in 2004 and they promote fair trade silk production in Ethiopia while increasing reliable, sustainable income for households and skilled artisans. Artisans are now able to support their families through creating these handmade and fair trade woven goods. Woven Promises tell us that the artisans say their work is meaningful to them and brings hope to their futures, allowing for growth, security and advancement in their lives and that their children are all being educated.There are also several more individuals that are "contract" workers; Women in the community that spin at home and men that have looms set up on their property.
Equitable employment and environmentally friendly production and processing practices are values central to Sabahar, Woven Promises and One World Fair Trade.