THE AFRICAN COLLECTION
The African collection is a small collection of unique items from Ghana in West Africa. A percentage of each sale will be sent back to Ghana to offer a little bit of support to people
who need it. All of the items were purchased in local Ghanaian markets from traditional stall holders who sell handmade Ghanaian wares of all varieties. It is a very important part of the local Ghanaian income and the bracelets are made of individually, hand crafted beads made from recycled glass!
In January 2012 Charlotte first went to Accra, Ghana. Charlotte boarded the flight with very few possessions having lost 99% of her belongings in a tragic house fire in London during the London riots of 2011. The purpose of the trip was to direct a popular live television series and she was thrown into a crazy world full of culture, music and love. Learning to get by in a completely different environment was a long and winding process but at the end of the project, Charlotte realised that she had fallen in love with the country that had changed her for the better and healed her soul. The kindness from strangers, the humility, the laughter and the overcoming of hardships combine in a magical way and since then, Charlotte has spent a lot of time in Accra and beyond. Charlotte learned so much from Ghanaians and Ghanaian culture and after moving back to the U.K she's never forgotten about the people who helped her with open hearts and minds. On Christmas day 2018, Dan (Charlotte's partner and business partner) surprised her with flights to Accra. It was completely unexpected because money was incredibly tight after starting The Woodland Gift Company from scratch with limited resources. After Charlotte had stopped crying, she was excited to show Dan around Accra on what would be his first ever trip to Africa!
With Charlotte's mother Gloria trained up and ready to run The Woodland Gift Company in their absence, they set off to reunite Charlotte with her old friends. Dan took to Ghana life like a duck to water and whilst winding through the hustle and bustle of the local markets, Charlotte had an idea. Why don't we put some gorgeous hand made Ghanaian products on our website and we can put a side 7 Ghana Cedis (£1.00) from each sale to send to people we personally know need some support. After meeting some of the local families in Accra, Dan thought this was a brilliant idea. Each item is a one off and the African collection is full of colourful beauty.
WHO WOULD WE LIKE
There are many charities operating in Ghana and most of them do a fine job. At the moment, the people Charlotte regularly tries to help are people she knows personally.
The instinct to offer support to people she came across in Ghana is long standing. One example is from 2015 when Charlotte raised funds to help a young girl return to her secondary school education in the North of Ghana. The generous donations from family and friends in the U.K allowed this young lady to pay for her school fees, boarding (school residence), school supplies and a basic mobile phone so she could stay connected to her family. This young lady finished her education and more importantly was able to enjoy her teenage years without struggling alone in 'the big city' of Accra.
Samira is a mother of three children but is mainly raising them single handedly. Charlotte got to know Samira when her eldest child was 4 and her youngest was 6 months old. Samira lived close to Charlotte in a very local neighbourhood in Accra and she really needed employment. Samira used to do odd jobs for Charlotte but it soon became apparent that Samira lacked support with her children after it was discovered that she didn't have anyone to care for her children when she was completing her jobs. Charlotte went to the local market and bought some crucial items for the little baby and agreed to pay Samira enough to also put her 4 year old in a pre-school down the road. Charlotte would help care for the baby and just fell in love with her. In Ghana, it is very common for a group of women to raise their children together but Samira seemed a bit alone at this time. Charlotte and Samira became good pals. They laughed, gossiped and offered support to each other. They have always remained in touch. When visiting Accra with Dan they all met up again and met Samira's new baby son. Samira is a hard working, dedicated mother but the wealth gap in Ghana between those who have and those who havn't is very large. The economy of even a modest 'expat' is very different to the local economy of an average Ghanian and some people just need a little helping hand. Samira's husband lives and works away as basic employment is very hard to find but it's worth noting that basic education, health care and pretty much all other public services we sometimes take for granted in the U.K are very expensive for locals in Ghana. Samira hasn't ever asked for any help aside from wanting to work for a living but Charlotte feels that if she's going to give something back, it should be to Samira and her three beautiful children. Some people may ask why people have children when it pushes our 'means' and that's understandable but sometimes life throws us curve balls. We can all relate to that. Any help Charlotte has been able to provide has always been to people she knows and trusts. Some registered charities do fantastic work but unless we know that 100% of the donations go to the people who need it, Charlotte prefers to give any donations she has directly to the people she knows it will instantly help the most.
The funds raised by selling our trial collection of handmade Ghanaian items won't be an incredible, life changing amount by all means but if it's successful then we will be able to look into extending the range and helping more local Ghanaians and their families. Charlotte is forever grateful for the time, wisdom, advice, support and friendship she received from the local people of Accra. When people who very little material wealth in comparison to people in the west offer to share their food with you, it burns a mark on your soul, never to be forgotten.