Happy shopping! Place your order by 12/15 for standard shipping and 12/19 for priority to ensure delivery before Christmas

A Foundation of Love: Isabel Allende Brings Hope to Women

by Marlei Olson March 01, 2016

Isabel Allende is an international, best-selling author who has sold more than 65 million copies of her books worldwide. She set up the Isabel Allende Foundation to pay homage to Paula Frias, the daughter she lost in 1992. The Foundation is run by women devoted to bringing light and hope to other women's lives, in honor of Paula, and guided by a vision of a world where women have achieved social and economic justice. Isabel and her team visited Thistle Farms earlier this month, and writer Kay West asked her to tell us more about how the relationship with Thistle Farms and founder Becca Stevens began:

My foundation has 100 organizations that we support and every year we give our biggest award, we call it our Espiritu Award. We choose a theme for the year and the year before it was Trafficking. We said, 'Who is working in this field that it would make some difference to give this grant?' Our friend and priest, Frannie Kieschnick, told us about Becca and Thistle Farms. That’s how the story began.


When we give the award, we have the group come to California, a getting to know you gathering, with us and the women from their organization. (When Thistle Farms came), it was very moving. I asked them to send me their photographs in advance, and I made necklaces for all of them. We had hired a videographer to shoot it. The guy was so moved by what he heard and saw that he would not charge us! He is a war correspondent and still, he was still moved by this.

 

 

 

.
 
 
 
 
 
View the video above from the event at Isabel's home in San Francisco.

 

Anika, it was her first year. She had just begun the program and she was so wounded. We sat in the circle and everyone introduced themselves and she could barely talk and couldn’t look at anyone. Her head was down. Becca did not force her to do anything. As the day went on she sort of started to come out of her shell, but just a little bit. A little more than two years later, she is the person she is now. She emerged, like from a cocoon. She is not recognizable from who she used to be. She shines. One of the women said yesterday that nowhere else in the world will you be given two years, to find your soul, to recover, to heal, to find yourself. At no cost! And no demands of any kind. It is astonishing.

When we gave the award to Thistle Farms, Becca chose to invest it in Shared Trade (Thistle Farms Global), and it multiplied. It is empowerment to women, so it fit perfectly with our mission. It starts with education, and through that they usually receive some skill to make a living. Financially they will support the family. If you give a loan to a a woman she will buy two goats. And will have four goats the next year.  

When Becca talked about Shared Trade that is exactly the kind of things we talk about but we don’t have the connection to make it marketable. Sometimes women produce things but you can't sell them or take them out of the country.  But to have an organization that can connect those things and make the product successful, that is essential.

 

A Tea Party at the Cafe with Isabel and her team, Becca and lots of Thistle Farmers!

 

Part 2 coming soon: Isabel tells us about Paula, her remarkable daughter who inspired her foundation.

Gratitude to Carole Hagan for capturing the tea party and photo of Anika & Isabel.

Marlei Olson
Marlei Olson



Also in Community Blog

Meet Ericka: Professional, Board Member, Thistle Farms Graduate

by Melanie Reitz November 10, 2016

A 2003 Thistle Farms graduate, and now member of Thistle Farms’ Board of Directors, Ericka Monroe has a clear message for women coming into Thistle Farms: You can do it. In 2001, this is the message she received from Becca Stevens, and it has guided her ever since.  Ericka came to the program having spent four years on the streets. She was sure she wouldn’t stay, but, as she got to know the women around her, she realized there was something different here.


Read More
From the Streets to Accounts Manager: Chelle is Living Proof

by Melanie Reitz October 12, 2016

The growth Thistle Farms has enjoyed in the last several years has kept Chelle Waller, survivor-leader and Accounts Manager, very busy. As a 2005 graduate, Chelle has seen a great deal of change since she first began. “At one time, we were only about 5 women working here, just at one little table,” Chelle recalls. Now, Chelle manages the accounts payable process for a company with a $4 million budget.
Read More
We Are Not Alone: A Blog from Becca

by Becca Stevens September 19, 2016

On Thistle Farm's third trip to visit the Ikirezi community, Nicholas told me that our ecommerce partnership was important, not just because of the added economic value, but because it was a reminder that he wasn’t alone in this work. What he meant was that despite the overwhelming obstacles one faces in justice work out in the fields, we can overcome our times of loneliness and heartbreak if we work together.
Read More