One of my favorite smells is the scent of leather--isn't it just divine? (Although, our vegan friends may not share that opinion.) And I love how quality leather develops more character over time--it gets even more lovely after years of use. But hand-stitched leather goods have come under intense scrutiny in the pat few years, as laborers in developing nations are often paid a pittance to stitch the goods in deplorable working conditions.
However, you don't have to give up your love of leather goods entirely! Meet Mission Lazarus, a social enterprise that works in rural communities in Honduras and Haiti to provide opportunity. The impoverished are invited to attend Mission Lazarus free vocational schools where they learn sewing, how to create leather goods or are trained to work on one of their organic agriculture farms producing coffee. All students and employees are paid a living wage that is 25% higher than the established, local Fair Trade wages and all employees are eligible for healthcare.
Mission Lazarus' approach in working with communities is comprehensive and multilateral, impacting the areas of agriculture, education, medicine, church planting, orphan care, and social enterprise in every community they serve. Since it's inception in 2002, Mission Lazarus has grown to directly employ more than 150 people and has planted 27 churches in Honduras and Haiti. By purchasing one of their products, you'll be supporting their important work. And I can't imagine anyone NOT being pleased to receive these gorgeous goods under the tree this Christmas! (But, just in case you have a vegan on your list, remember that there's always coffee!)