It’s hard to believe that another year is almost over and in only two months Christmas will be here again! Time flies when you’re building an Ark! We have already been hard at work preparing for our yearly Christmas Town event at the Creation Museum. This year we have added a great new feature that we are excited to share with you called our Fair Trade Christmas Market, which will be available as part of the free activities at Christmas Town! You do not need a $5 after 5 PM museum admission ticket to access the Fair Trade Christmas Market.
Not only will it help you get your Christmas shopping done, but a purchase from our Fair Trade Market will help alleviate the physical and spiritual needs of artisans around the world. The majority of our fair trade partners are also ministry partners who wholeheartedly agree with our mission to “obey God’s call to deliver the message of the gospel, individually and collectively” and are actively sharing Christ in their sphere of influence. This Christmas, your fair trade purchases will make a difference for eternity, not only by helping someone out of economic poverty, but most importantly, by sharing the good news of the gospel of Christ.
This market is not primarily about the sales, although truly every sale helps. It’s not about creating buzz about “fair trade.” It’s about people God loves and His story in their lives, and about the opportunity we have to change lives for eternity with something as simple as a Christmas gift. Each of our Fair Trade Christmas Market vendors also has a story—a story of people they love and of how God has led them to their place of service today.
One of the vendors participating in our Fair Trade Christmas Market is Franciska Issaka, of CENSUDI. Franciska is a sweet sister in Christ who has a huge heart for the women of her home country of Ghana. She will be bringing their beautiful handmade baskets to the market. This is her story, as written by Jackie Jonas:
We Are Still Looking For Water
Franciska Issaka will show you a long scar on the back of her left calf and tell you that it is the reason she does the work she does. The scar commemorates an incident in her childhood that haunts her still. She and her sister had been sent to find water for cooking. In the dry season in Northern Ghana this was no simple task. In fact the only water to be found was in an irrigation ditch surrounded by a barbed wire fence. The girls had to sneak under the fence, fill large barrels with water and then carry them on their heads back to the house. During one trip the night watchman awoke and began to chase them. Franciska sent her sister ahead and injured her leg trying to get away. She had to leave her water behind and the leg became infected. Now, over fifty years later she has made it her mission to ensure that no other child carries the scars of poverty and lack of opportunity into adulthood.
Ms. Issaka was born into a family of girls in a culture where girls were and are still not valued. In fact her local name, Atisbange, translates as “yet another girl.” According to tradition, Franciska and her sisters were destined to be married off at young ages in exchange for cows and other resources. In fact, the oldest of her sisters entered into an arranged marriage as was expected. She and her remaining sisters could have met the same fate had not the husband of her eldest sister encouraged his father-in-law to leave his remaining daughters in school. Franciska completed her bachelor’s degree at the University of Cape Coast and then went on to attend the University of Denver and Durham University in the UK where she received a Master’s in Business. Through it all she remembered that scar.
Upon her return to Ghana Ms. Issaka served as Deputy Minister for Local Government and Development under President Rawlings. Her work in the government brought home the fact that her country was wasting one of its most precious resources. By marginalizing women and children Ghana was losing access to their talents and input. She knew she had to do something to correct the situation. She eventually realized that working within government to effect change was not sufficient, so in 1994 she and her sisters Margaret Mary and Elizabeth founded The Center for Sustainable Development Initiatives (CENSUDI).
CENSUDI’s focus is women’s equality. The organization works to give women and girls access to resources and education. They also work to eliminate traditional practices that are harmful to women. This is not as easy as it seems. Changing a culture requires changing longstanding attitudes and mindsets. This means working with local community leaders to redefine women’s roles. CENSUDI has developed processes that allow community leaders and families to talk about the ways in which traditional practices have helped or hindered their communities and then to develop new ways of working together. Change occurs one leader and one village at a time, but this sort of careful, slow progress is the kind that endures and spreads. The organization has made great strides in the rural area of the Northeast region of Ghana, but there is still much work to be done. As Franciska says, “Fifty years later we are still looking for water.”
Source: Jackie Jonas Interview; September 2011, Pittsburgh, USA