Archive | Giving Back

Kahina Giving Thanks

Photo by Antillia Dufourmantelle

Photo by Antillia Dufourmantelle

Thanksgiving is upon us – a time when we celebrate and share abundance in our lives.   At Kahina Giving Beauty, we have much to be thankful for. We acknowledge and thank those people who work to create our products and keep Kahina running smoothly: from the women who harvest and crack the argan nuts in Morocco, to our chemist and production team, and the small group in our office and in the warehouse who take your orders and get your products to your door. We are grateful to you, our customers. Thank you for your support, encouragement and kindness in helping us to build this brand. We know that without you, we wouldn’t exist.

Gratitude, appreciation, humility and the wise use of resources – these are some of the most valuable lessons I have learned from my time spent with the Berber women of Morocco over the past nine years.   There has never been a more apt time to live up to these ideals than Thanksgiving 2016. I recently stumbled across this article on the Fifteen Principles of Thanksgiving by Peter Breggin, M.D. for The Huffington Post. A couple points particularly resonated:

Gratitude is the antidote to self-pity… It takes little imagination to know how much worse it has been for other people in previous ages and in other places. Be grateful for this life.

 Everything good requires courage. Find the courage to love, to be grateful, and to live by sound ethics. Especially be brave enough to speak when you are afraid

Read on for the full article:

  1. Love is joyful awareness. Love life—people, animals, nature, gardening, art and music, sports and exercise, literature, God—anything and anyone that brings you a joyful awareness of the wonder of being a living creature.
  1. Gratitude satisfies the spirit. Be grateful for all that you love and if you cannot think of anyone or anything that love, then be grateful you still have a chance to love. Be especially grateful for the opportunity help and to serve other people and good causes.
  1. Gratitude is the antidote to self-pity. Feeling sorry for oneself is ruinous. Especially don’t fall into believing that we live in the worst of times. It takes little imagination to know how much worse it has been for other people in previous ages and in other places. Be grateful for this life.
  1. Ethics guide the good life. Put ethics and principles above pleasure, convenience, safety, income, career, your presumed place in the world, and the way others view you. Living a principled life is the key to a satisfying life.
  1. Everything good requires courage. Find the courage to love, to be grateful, and to live by sound ethics. Especially be brave enough to speak when you are afraid.
  1. Dare to seek romantic love. Abiding love for a partner in life is the nearest we get to heaven this time around.
  1. Make a living by doing something that you love. Many people find a way to do it. Your occupation should feel like a privilege, a pleasure, and an opportunity to serve.
  2. Approach every single challenge in life with determination to master it. Otherwise you won’t handle it. Feeling helpless in the face of adversity is a prescription for failure. Deciding to take on the challenges is a prescription for self-satisfaction and makes success more likely.
  1. Don’t hide from or stifle your painful emotions. Feeling pain signals that there is something wrong in your life that needs immediate attention. Invite your painful emotions to tell you everything they can about what you really want out of life. All psychoactive substances, from illegal drugs to psychiatric medications, suppress our real emotions and should be avoided, especially in time of suffering and fear when we especially need to know what we are feeling.
  1. Reject being labeled with a psychiatric diagnosis like depression, bipolar disorder or anxiety. There are no “psychiatric disorders;” only life disorders. All of us have to struggle, to go through hard times, and to find a way of becoming more in control of our emotions and more successful in our actions.
  1. Don’t think of yourself as a survivor. Intending to survive guarantees little more than getting by. Think of yourself as some who intends to triumph.
  1. Forgiving other people liberates us from hate. You won’t get even by hating, you’ll get miserable, bitter and spiritless. Take care of yourself by forgiving, and if necessary by avoiding hurtful people, but don’t waste a minute hating.
  1. Seek a worthwhile life rather than happiness. The search for happiness will distract you from what matters and even make you crazy. Happiness is often a matter of luck—the way we are shaped by childhood, where we happen to be born, health, and circumstance.
  1. No one knows the meaning of life but it’s certain that life is best lived with love, gratitude, ethics, courage, and a determination to give it your best effort. A sense of worth is guaranteed and happiness will often tag along as well.
  1. Let your spirit be touched, and touch the spirit of others, with love.

 

The Beauty of Giving Beauty

Photo by Antillia Dufourmantelle

Photo by Antillia Dufourmantelle

Aside from the concept of elevating the Berber women at the heart of our line, Giving Beauty also reflects another idea – the power of beauty rituals to heal, connect and to build self-esteem. In Morocco, the public hammam is a place in which bonding between mothers and daughters, sisters, and friends, occurs. One sister can be seen brushing another’s hair, a mother bathes her daughter, two friends scrub each others backs. These are intimate expressions of caring that are encouraged within the confines of the hammam. Closer to home, consider the experience of getting a facial or massage: the generosity in the act of performing a treatment. The best practitioners give their energy and focus to create a sanctuary that allows another to feel safe and special in their most vulnerable moments, in their skin.

We can also create these experiences by giving ourselves permission to take time to nurture ourselves, to treat our senses, to believe “we are worth it”. What a simple gift that is! In Morocco, this isn’t considered a luxury or indulgence, but a necessity.

 

photo by Antillia Dufourmantelle

photo by Antillia Dufourmantelle

Nine Years of Giving Beauty

Katharine with Laarbia

Katharine with Yamna

 

The concept of Giving Beauty, a cornerstone of the Kahina brand, begins by providing economic opportunity for the Berber women who do the labor intensive work of extracting the oils at the heart of our line.  I’ve just returned from another 2-week trip, visiting Marrakech, Taroudant, and several remote villages of the Anti Atlas Mountains where I obtain the argan and prickly pear seed oils for our products.  On my trip, which happened to coincide precisely with the nine-year anniversary of my first trip to Morocco and the conception of Kahina, I had a chance to witness how the work of harvesting and cracking the nuts for these oils and the fair trade initiatives put in place to further enhance the women’s quality of life have had a positive impact.

For the first time in this tiny village of 100 women, to which the men visit only one month out of the year when they take time away from their work in the cities, the homes now have electricity and running water. The women are able to purchase food that they can’t grow themselves and wool for their weaving, which is in itself another source of economic opportunity. The primary school is freshly painted and now has separate bathrooms for the girls and boys. The success of my supplier (in some measure due to Kahina) means that opportunity is spreading to surrounding villages as well and plans are underway to bring electricity and running water to an additional 200 homes.

Beyond paying a fair wage and supporting these initiatives, Kahina also donates an additional 1% of our revenue to programs that contribute to the Berber women of Morocco and their families, including Education for All and the High Atlas Foundation.

 

Back to School with Education For All Morocco

With the girls of Dar Asni

With the girls of Dar Asni

While on the calendar we still have almost two more week of summer, the past two weeks officially marked “back to school” and the end of summer for my family and me. This is always a sad time for me, as I tearfully send my older children off to college and watch as my seventh grader develops his increasing independence from me. This year was no different, but I recognize that its an indulgence to be sad over a child’s parting for school when even the most basic education is not afforded to many children, especially girls, around the world.

“Right now, more than 62 million girls worldwide are not in school,” Michelle Obama declared after a recent trip to Liberia and Morocco to initiate “Let Girls Learn” when delivering a speech on the crisis of girls education.

“Sometimes the issue is resources: their families simply can’t afford the school fees; or the nearest school is hours away; or the school nearby doesn’t have adequate bathroom facilities for girls, so they’re forced to stay home during their menstrual cycles, and they wind up falling behind and dropping out.

But often the root of the problem is really about attitudes and beliefs: families and communities simply don’t think girls are worthy of an education, and they choose to marry them off as teenagers instead, often forcing them to start having children when they’re basically still children themselves.”

In her speech The First Lady detailed the program’s plans to support the Moroccan government to establish dormitories for girls so that the girls from the countryside may go to school. This is an important initiative, but as she states in her speech, “governments alone cannot solve this problem.”

That is why Kahina Giving Beauty proudly supports Education For All Morocco, a Non Government Organization which addresses the problem by building and running free and safe boarding homes for girls so they can continue their education beyond the age of 12.  Education for All was founded in 2009 with a single boarding home.  The program now boasts five boarding homes, housing approximately 250 girls.  Now, 18 girls from the program are attending University, the first girls in their villages to do so.  We have been supporters of the organization since its early days, sponsoring ten girls and helping to keep the houses running.

“EFA’s solution is to bring the girls to the schools, an approach which is beginning to change the lives of Berber girls in a way that could transform the region’s future. Their boarding houses, which are run solely by Berber women, provide accommodation, healthy food, support with homework and extra French and English lessons. On average, the pass rate for all academic years is 97%.”  — The Guardian, June 2016

The following is excerpted from Michelle’s speech:

I had the privilege of meeting Ralphina and Rihab earlier this week when I traveled to Liberia and Morocco to highlight our global girls’ education crisis — the fact that right now, more than 62 million girls worldwide are not in school. This is such a heartbreaking loss, because these girls are so bright and so hungry to learn — and like Ralphina and Rihab, they have such big dreams for themselves. These girls are no less smart or deserving of an education than my own daughters — or any of our sons and daughters. The only thing that separates them from our children is geography and luck.

 

The girls I met in Morocco and Liberia want to be doctors, teachers, entrepreneurs, engineers. One of them wants to run for office so she can fight for women’s rights and combat climate change. Another hopes to open her own auto shop to teach women about cars so they can be more independent.

But we know that when we give these girls the chance to learn, they will seize it. They’ll walk for miles each day to school. They’ll study for hours every night by candlelight, determined to learn as much as they possibly can.

 We also know that educating girls doesn’t just transform their life prospects — it transforms the prospects of their families, communities, and nations as well. Studies show that girls who are educated earn higher salaries — 10 to 20 percent more for each additional year of secondary school — and sending more girls to school and into the workforce can boost an entire country’s GDP. Educated girls also marry later, have lower rates of infant and maternal mortality, and are more likely to immunize their children and less likely to contract malaria and HIV.

In Morocco we’ll be working closely with the Moroccan government to help transform high schools across the country, and we’ll be supporting new school dormitories to allow girls from rural areas to attend school far from home.

Large scale efforts like these are critically important, and will affect the lives of countless girls, but they’re simply not enough. Governments alone cannot solve this problem — not when we’re talking about a number like 62 million.

While I will always be sad to see my children leave, I am so thankful for the opportunities afforded them by living in the society we do – and I think about the mothers in Morocco who are sending their young girls away from home to go on and live a life they could only dream of.

Kahina Wins Madrid Award for Sustainability in the Premium and Luxury Sectors

Getting the IE award

I’ve just returned from Madrid where I had the extreme honor to be presented with the IE Award for Sustainability in the Premium and Luxury Sectors by Enrique Valera, General Director of Abadia Retuerta, one of the largest sustainable wineries in Spain. Kahina won in the Wellbeing, Beauty and Health category. The award, jointly organized by Fundación de Estudios e Investigaciones Superiores (Buenos Aires, Argentina) and IE Business School (Madrid, Spain), recognizes sustainability in privately owned luxury brands with attention given to best business practices, strategies, and innovations.

IE Award winners

I was humbled to be among this group of change makers in the fields of hospitality, fashion and jewelry. Other award winners and honorees include Looptworks, Campi Ya Kanzi, Gudren and Gudren, Petit H, Ethical Fashion Initiative, and Meche Correa.  The takeaway from IE Premium and Prestige Observatory Executive Director Marie Eugenia Giron is this: for luxury brands to speak to millennials, they must be authentic, provide value and experience.  Kahina scores points on all three!

With Pascal Moussard small

A true highlight was getting to spend time with the lovely Pascale Mussard, a sixth generation member of the Hermes family and founder of the brand’s sustainable offshoot Petit H. As she so eloquently stated, “I was given roots that go deep and wings to fly”.

Happy Earth Day! Kahina joins HAF to plant 5,000 trees in Morocco

 

Walnut tree seedlings planted by High Atlas Foundation. Photo by Heather Binns.

Walnut tree seedlings planted by High Atlas Foundation. Photo by Heather Binns.

 
Happy Earth Day! As a result of our campaign to raise money for the High Atlas Foundation’s “Trees For Life” initiative this month, we’ve succeeded in reaching our goal of raising the money to plant 5,000 trees! Thank you to all who supported us in our efforts.

The “Trees For Life” campaign is estimated to have lifted approximately 50,000 Moroccans out of poverty by by planting fruit trees to generate income and end their dependence on subsistence agriculture.

Here’s how it works: HAF has received land for the project from various organizations, including government agencies, local cooperatives, schools and women’s associations. Native tree species are planted in nurseries on the land and grown without the use of pesticides. Once the trees reach maturity, they are distributed to the surrounding population. Additionally, land management practices are put into place to prevent soil erosion and desertification, creating a simple program that ensures the longevity of Morocco’s people and environment.

To learn more about The High Atlas Foundation and its initiatives in Morocco, click here.

 

 

Photo by Heather Binns

Photo by Heather Binns

CHOOSE HOPE

girls of the Anti Atlas

Since founding Kahina Giving Beauty, I have been incredibly fortunate to be able to spend time amongst so many caring and loving communities of people in the remote villages of rural Morocco. The people I have met have been warm, generous and welcoming. I have been so inspired by them that I have been moved to try to convey their spirit of simplicity, gratitude and appreciation in the creation of Kahina, the brand.

I invite you to take a close look at the faces of each of these Berber girls from a small village in the South of Morocco. What I see is the indomitable spirit of young girls, joyful, exuberant, optimistic, much like the kids my own son goes to school with in New York City. The only difference is that the girls in New York expect bright careers doing what they choose – as lawyers, designers, artists, scientists, engineers or dancers, while these girls’ hopes can’t extend beyond getting a third grade education and marrying a boy from the neighboring village by the age of 18. A small bit of assistance and encouragement can make a world of difference in their lives, most importantly by allowing them to continue their schooling.

I believe in the right of these girls to live to their potential. I have hope that these girls and so many others like them around the world, given the chance, will make a difference – by taking control of their lives, shedding light on ignorance, and helping to shape the future of their country.

We live in a time of fear and despair. The way to crowd out hopelessness is by acting with love. Take action this holiday season by making a donation to a charity that supports your beliefs. I invite you to join us in making a contribution to a cause that is close to my heart, Education For All, Morocco.

About Education For All, Morocco

Very few girls from rural communities in Morocco have the opportunity to continue their education beyond primary school. Schools at the Middle and High School level, mostly several miles away in larger towns, are not accessible to them for two main reasons:

Their parents cannot afford to pay for lodging
Their parents do not have the confidence in existing facilities near the schools to entrust their daughters to be away from home

Education For All provides free room and board for these girls so that they may continue their education beyond the third grade.

Screen Shot 2015-08-30 at 10.22.13 AM

Your contribution can make a big difference:
$76.00 can buy a uniform, sports shoes, school bag and school books for the year
$455.00 will buy a new computer for one of EFA’s study rooms
$1,213.00 will sponsor a girl for a whole year

“Because when you educate a girl, you educate a village,” Education for All, Morocco

Marry at Fifteen or Attend School: EFA provides solutions for girls in rural Morocco

Photo by Heather Binns

Photo by Heather Binns

As summer draws to an end and we prepare for “back-to-school”, it is easy to overlook what we often take for granted.  Education is a privilege not readily available to many of  the world’s girls, often due to an arduous commute.

In Morocco, adolescent girls living in remote villages are most likely to drop out of school around the age of twelve because of lack of access to middle and higher education in their immediate vicinities. Parents of teenaged girls are often unwilling to let them travel long distances away from home due to concerns for their safety and social restrictions.  With few options, girls in Morocco are often forced into early marriage. According to UNFPA, “In developing countries, one in every three girls is married before reaching age 18. One in nine is married under age 15.”

Kahina Giving Beauty is proud to support Education For All, Morocco, now opening its fifth boarding school for girls in the High Atlas Mountains. This means that an additional 40 girls can attend school beyond the fifth grade. The success rate that can be attributed to the free room and board provided by Education For All is impressive, with a 97% pass rate across all levels (12-18 years). There are now 18 graduates enrolled at university – the first in their villages to ever reach this level of education. Education for All is also able to support them with living grants so they can focus on their studies and pursue their future dreams.

To get a clearer picture of just what free room and board for these girls means, watch this especially moving UNESCO video and powerful documentary about a day in the life of Fatima, one of the EFA girls.  Without the help of Education For All, 15-year-old Fatima’s daily commute to school could take up to eight hours.  Her only other option would be marriage at a young age arranged by her parents.

Buy Sheep for Year of the Sheep!

Kahina Giving Beauty Raising Money to Buy Sheep

Happy Lunar New Year! To usher in the year of the sheep, we’re committing to buying some. For every bottle of argan oil purchased on givingbeauty.com from February 19th to March 18th, 2015, we’ll be donating 100% of sales to the purchase of sheep for the Berber women of our argan cooperative.

Why sheep?

  • their wool can be used to weave rugs for use at home or to sell at market
  • their milk provides food for families
  • if bred, offspring can be sold at market for a profit

Kahina did this initiative back in 2012 (above is Katharine with some of her donated sheep). Our goal this year is 15 sheep impacting 15 women.

Did you know? The Year of the Sheep is associated with goodwill and giving back. From a recent Well & Good article: “[The sheep] is considered to be the good Samaritan of the zodiac. Potentially, there will be more attention to the environment, and people will be more inclined to give back,” Wendell says. “[Sheep] are good-natured and sensitive to beauty and balance.”

Support our efforts. Shop Argan Oil now.

Kahina’s Year of Giving

Donating clothing in the Anti Atlas Mountains

Donating clothing in the Anti Atlas Mountains

2014, our fifth year in business, was a wonderful year for Kahina.  Once again, we saw strong growth as the demand for beautifully produced organic products increased around the world. It has been tremendously satisfying to see the company gain recognition, and one of the greatest rewards is in being able to provide increased assistance to the people of Morocco. Thanks to you, our customers, here are the programs we supported this past year:

• We were pleased to fund room and board for two more girls through Education For All, Morocco, so that they could continue their education through high school.
• Kahina raised money to purchase and plant 400 trees to be used in nurseries to support rural villages in the Southwest of Morocco as part of High Atlas Foundation’s (HAF) One Million Tree Campaign.
• We made additional donations to the High Atlas Foundation to deliver clean drinking water to a girls’ school in the High Atlas Mountains.
* Kahina purchased clothing for the women and children of the village of Ait Goh in the Anti Atlas mountains which was severely impacted by flooding in November, 2014.

Again, thank you for your support. We are looking forward to giving back even more in 2015 and will keep you updated with our efforts and results.

Wishing you a healthy and joyful new year,
Katharine L’heureux, founder

Free shipping in the US with orders over $75.