A Global Experience: COVID-19 Around the World


Updates from our Artisan Partners

COVID-19 continues to affect the daily lives of people globally. Even as our own cases in the United States continue to rise, we're so lucky to have good hospitals and government assistance to help us get through sickness, unemployment, and more.

Many of our artisan partners aren't as lucky, and they rely on fair trade orders to make a living. Here's an update from just a few of our global partners on their situation at this difficult time.


Our partners in Peru have started going back to work, but have had to make some tough decisions. They are reducing office staff salaries and hours in order to channel some income to their artisans. Many Peruvian artisans have also struggled to obtain needed supplies to make their handcrafts. Our partners also let us know that, sadly, some of their artisans have passed from COVID-19. Their outlook remains optimistic, even with all of their struggles. "The last thing we can lose is hope and we have not lost it," they tell us. They also believe that with a little work and courage, "we will soon see very positive results that will erase the difficult moments we are going through. TOGETHER WE ARE STRONG!"

Staff from the Handcrafters in Peru, back at work with proper safety equipment.


These talented artisans are struggling. Our partners in Bali inform us that the last order they received came from us here at SERRV, and that was back in February. They've had no orders since, and tourism has plummeted, and therefore have no other ways for artisans to support their families. They also tell us that though many Indonesians stayed home through the middle of April, after that they became hungry and angry, and started "to do normal (things) such as selling food, vegetables and anything to survive."


Our partners in Pakistan are in a similar situation. While life is getting back to a new normal, complete with masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer, "people are not afraid of [the] pandemic but are more afraid of unemployment and poverty." In fact, our partners in Pakistan have orders for their hand carved onyx only from SERRV, which unfortunately aren't sufficient for their artisans to support their families over the long term.

The Philippines

Our partners from the Philippines are no longer in complete quarantine, and about half of their employees have been allowed to return to work while other continue to work from home. They tell us that many of the artisans are requesting 100% advance payments for their work just to be able to feed themselves and their families while they continue their work (we offer 50% when we place our orders and the balance when the orders ship) . They continue to try and stay positive. "We just hope and pray our partners in Fair Trade continue to send us their orders... the artisans really rely on orders as it is their only means of livelihood."


Artisans across India are facing many of the same issues as other countries. COVID has hit Delhi harder than most other cities in India. Lockdown has been relaxed, but our partners are still unable to return to work as normal, and medical care is difficult to obtain for most artisans and countless communities.

Artisans in Delhi receiving food care packages, June 2020


Women artisans from Ahmedabad are also without work. One of our producer partners employs nearly 200 women, but without orders for their beautifully hand-embroidered textiles, they're unable to earn a living. They remain hopeful. "We have many inspiring examples in our movement of care, love, sharing and harmony. We strongly believe that another world is possible."

Our partners from Ahmedabad returning to work wearing handmade masks.


Luckily, our partners in Haiti and the recycled oil drum metalwork artisans have managed to stay healthy and avoid COVID-19. They've been closed since February. Their last order was from SERRV, and they are hoping they can get back to work soon in order to earn an income in the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.


One of the biggest struggles for our partners in Kenya is a shortage of food. Due to immense flooding, many of their local crops were swept away or ruined, and this has caused food prices to increase dramatically. Out of work, many of the soapstone artisans are struggling to feed their families on a daily basis, and are disregarding government safety regulations on COVID-19 so that they can make enough to eat.

All of our partners are concerned for the U.S. as well as for their own countries, especially in the wake of recent protests on top of our struggles with COVID-19. They thank you for your continued support, and all hope that we are able to return to business as normal soon.

How is SERRV Responding to our Artisans Partners?

At SERRV, we believe in creating sustainable employment for artisans around the world. Because of this, we are continuing to work with our artisan partners through this challenging time. Instead of cancelling orders, our product development team is coordinating with each of our partners to create a revised schedule for the crafting and shipping of our fall collection. While this may mean delays and a later start to the fall season, we know you support our mission just as much as we do.

We've also started a relief fund for our artisan partners, funded by purchases of our Themed Gift Kits and employee contributions. Each of our new Themed Gift Kits features beautiful handcrafted products from our partners around the world, and you'll save 15% off the retail price of each item when you purchase a kit for yourself or a loved one. Plus, 10% of each personal kit purchase will go towards the COVID-19 Artisan Relief Fund.

Every purchase or donation to SERRV will also have an impact, as our mission remains to support marginalized global artisans and farmers. Together, we can create income for them through new orders for their beautiful handcrafts, and relief funds for food and needed supplies at this time.

Thank you for continuing to believe in fair trade and for supporting artisans around the world.

Is there a question we can answer about our artisan or farmer partners? Email us at marketing@serrv.org.

If you would like to donate to support SERRV's mission, please visit our Donation page, where you can give and view financial and regulatory information. You can also view this information here.

Read our most recent updates on our latest blog, One Year Later: COVID-19 Updates From Our Global Partners.

Tags:   News   Artisan Stories   Fair Trade  

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