Mai was created in 1990 to find an outlet for handcrafted and traditional arts of the producers of Vietnam. This Fair Trade cooperative works with a team of social workers and agents of community development, who ensure that all members of the community receive education and health services.
All the work Mai does goes toward improving the living and working conditions of the poorest women in Vietnam who live on the street with their children. These women are called “dust of life” and are seen as destined for prostitution, drugs, and gangs. Mai aims to give them a life project and educate them about craftsmanship.
These single women live on the street in very rough conditions of poverty and exclusion that persist after 40 years of war. If they fight to improve their lives, they'll achieve a better life and education for each one of their children. Mai also helps other types of families and people who suffer from social marginalization and are trying to get ahead.
Even with complications of legal and political barriers put in place by the Vietnamese government, Mai Vietnamese Handicraft continues to grow and maintain the independence of its organization and keep incorporating more people into the project. On top of promoting women in the workforce, it also provides education to make sure marginalized and ethnic minority families can be self sustaining and self sufficient.
All the profits from the sale of its products are reinvested and used in social activities following Fair Trade principles. Thanks to organizations like Mai, handicrafts have given a future to those who haven't been lucky enough to receive an education.

Fotografías: SETEM

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