One Year Later: COVID-19 Updates From Our Global Partners


It's been over a year since life as we knew it changed. In the United States, many of us are getting vaccinated and returning to pre-pandemic life/our pre-pandemic routines. But many of our artisan partners have returned to quarantine with the increase in COVID cases in many parts of the world.

As we celebrate World Fair Trade Day 2021, we wanted to share updates from our global fair trade partners. Their resilience and hopefulness is at the heart of everything we do, and inspires us to continue our mission, even in this difficult time.

Our artisan partners in Ahmedabad



The second wave of COVID is decimating India's hospital system, which simply cannot keep up with the number of people who need oxygen and medical care. Hundreds of thousands of new cases are being reported each day, and strict lockdowns have finally been implemented, though the spread is already out of control. Because of this, many of our partners in Mumbai, Delhi and Ahmedabad are out of work. Without knowing when they'll get back to work, they continue to watch or worry about friends, family members, and co-workers contracting COVID.

Despite such difficulties around them, our partners remain optimistic. A number of artisans and office staff are working from home, and others are working to distribute funding and supplies for personal protective equipment and wages for artisans unable to work.


Our artisan partners in Bangladesh handcrafting masks



Though Bangladesh borders India, it's not experiencing near the surge of cases overall. While numbers are higher in the densely-packed urban areas like Dhaka, rural artisans have managed to avoid the large initial wave. Many artisans are able to work from home, and one of our partners distributed face masks, food, blankets, and money to their artisans most in need.


Cambodia is suffering a third wave of COVID, and our artisan partner here has completely closed down. While artisans can't work from home, our partner was able to get them food and other necessities.

Our artisan partners in the Philippines



Our partners in the Philippines are also experiencing an increase in COVID cases, and are on lockdown. Unfortunately, COVID isn't their only challenge-- typhoons over the past six months have left paths of destruction in their wakes, and our partner Saffy's main building was damaged. Even with all these challenges, they find the time to thank us all for the orders they receive: "We are very grateful for the continued support from our partners in fair trade... It really is saving the lives of many artisans."

Our artisan partners in Nepal wearing face masks and shields



A large second wave of COVID cases is hitting Nepal as well, but our partners there remain diligent and positive. Many artisans are still able to work, and some have even obtained the first dose of a vaccine. Proper handwashing, face mask wearing, and social distancing protocols are being followed, and schools and other public spaces are closed.


As our partner puts it, "Life goes on." Our partners in Vietnam aren't under lockdown, and the pandemic is much more under control. But while they don't have COVID to deal with, they are struggling to sell their handcrafts with a lack of tourism.

Our artisan partners in Peru



Peru is in a state of emergency with rapidly increasing COVID cases and a lack of healthcare for those who get it. Our artisan partners here are struggling. There's neither tourism nor local demand to generate work, many artisans and their family members are contracting COVID, and more people are dying in the second wave. Political turmoil in the country hasn't made things easier. But while it's been difficult to get raw materials for handcrafts due to both availability and increased costs, some artisans are still able to work from home.

Our artisan partners in Israel



Our partners in Israel are slowly returning to normal. However, due to a loss in income from decreased tourism and fewer international orders, one of our partners has been unable to bring back all of their workers. Despite this, they were able to develop hydroponic and environmental awareness programs, helping women farmers grow both their own vegetables - and the bonds between Israeli and Palestinian artisans.

How is SERRV Responding to our Artisan Partners?

At SERRV, we believe in creating sustainable employment for artisans around the world. We're doing a few specific things to help during this challenging time:
  • Working with our partners to create a revised schedule for crafting and shipping of our fall collection
  • Planning a later start to our fall season
  • Counting on the fair trade community in the US to understand there will be delays, and encouraging them to shop when products arrive
And there are two ways you can help:
  • Continue purchasing fairly traded handcrafts and foods from SERRV so we can place more orders with our global partners
  • Donate to SERRV so we can continue providing funding for food drives, safety equipment, facility improvements, and more. {*Plus, we'll triple your donation to our Global COVID-19 Relief Fund through June 15!.*}

Thank you for everything you do! Your support means the world to us and our global partners. From one of our partners in Bangladesh, "Fair trade protects humanity beyond borders."

Questions? Email us at

To read our partners' previous updates, check out these blog posts from July 2020 and September 2020.

Tags:   Artisan Stories  

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