Friday, December 17, 2010

Mochilas for Sunshine, relief effort for Colombian artisans

As you know, I am a huge supporter of Calamarie - a DC-based fashion house working with Colombian artisans to produce handcrafted jewelry and handbags. This past month, El Nina is drenching Colombia, leaving devastating results. In an effort to provide economic relief to the artisans living in these affected areas, Catalina Lemaitre, founder of Calamarie, has created Mochila for Sunshine. The following is a letter she sent her colleagues that I would like to share with you with hope that you support this very worthy cause. I plan to spend three weeks in Colombia with Catalina and her husband (Dec. 28 - Jan. 17) meeting the artisans and surveying the devastation. Stay tuned for an account of our travels.

Dear Friends,

I am writing to you all this holiday season, at a time of joy and celebration, to ask you to help us make a small difference in the lives of the thousands of victims of Colombia’s worst natural disaster in recorded history. Looking at the images of my country, under water is so reminiscent of Katrina, and I can’t believe this is happening again, to so many, and that it is happening right now. It has been raining for weeks and no end is in sight. Forecasters predict it will continue to rain until February—it’s just so hard to believe. (Video of the unimaginable devastation from the air:

For weeks now I have been feeling powerless to help and have been racking my brain thinking about ways Calamarie can be used as a vehicle to raise funds for the victims of this terrible disaster. A few days ago the answer came to me in a dream, I immediately went into action and started making calls to Colombia and the Mochila for Sunshine was born. The Mochila, a crossover traditional handwoven bag, and one of colombia’s most recognized cultural symbols was the answer. Artisans are now busy weaving a custom limited edition mochila similar to the one shown below but with the addition of a few simple words: Cuando salga el sol…(when the sun shines through). With your support, when the rains cease, and the sun shines through again people will have the help they will need to rebuild their homes and lives.
Starting now, you can reserve your own Mochila for Sunshine, which we will ship to you or whomever you designate on January 20th here:

To Order:
If this is a gift, I am happy to email the recipient an email post card on Christmas Eve, letting them know their gift has been purchased, the story behind it and delivery date. Each Mochila is unisex, will be handwoven in cotton in unique combinations of gray, black and/or white and will showcase different designs, reflecting the inspiration of each individual artisan. These are really fun and comfortable bags and cool enough to have been profiled in Vogue this past June. All proceeds from your $50 contribution will be channeled to the Colombian Red Cross by our good friends at Caring for Colombia, a New York based foundation dedicated to supporting vulnerable communities in Colombia.

We will have 150 Mochilas available so please share with your friends and family and help us raise close to $7500 by December 31st. Every dollar counts.
I thank each and every one of you for your support. A special thanks to my husband Juan, my aunt and godmother Vivian and my mom and dad, without whose help, we couldn’t have started to produce these mochilas in such a short time frame.

With gratitude,

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