As the holiday season for THREEafrica comes to a close I would like to tell you about a venue that I was fortunate to be a part of twice this holiday season. THREEafrica’s last holiday fair this past weekend was at the Pump House No.1 in Homestead, PA. The Pump House is a restored building preserved by Steel Industry Heritage Corporation for the purpose of educating people about the significance of the dramatic labor conflict in the Battle of Homestead in 1892 (www.battleofhomesteadfoundation.org/battle.php).
The Pump House (www.battleofhomesteadfoundation.org/pumphouse) is the long building on the left and is a monument to the steel workers in Pittsburgh and the working class everywhere. Unfortunately the weather that weekend was awful, rain and sleet on Saturday, sleet and rain on Sunday. Very few people ventured out to the Pump House or anywhere else. The few that did show up were interested in learning about THREEafrica and our mission to provide jobs and educational opportunities for women and girls in Malawi. It was very compelling to have the chance to tell people about THREE’s mission in a place where steeler workers had fought for fair labor. I may not have sold very much that day, but the Pump House became a very powerful, moving place and experience for me.
A few weeks before the Pump House I participated in another venue operated by Steel Industry Heritage Corporation, Carrie Furnaces 6 and 7. Since the collapse of Pittsburgh’s steel industry in the 1970s and 1980s these are the only non-operative blast furnaces in the region that are still standing. I was able to take a tour that day of the furnaces and again was overwhelmed by the history and feeling that the furnaces may not be operating anymore but they are still very much alive.
I will now admit that I was not looking forward to setting up a table at all these holiday fairs and peddling my wares. I am by nature not much of a talker about myself. However, these fairs turned out to be a really great experience. More people than I thought knew something about the lives of women in a country like Malawi and wanted to know more and how they could help. Everyone was very supportive and encouraging and thanked me for what we do. I also had the opportunity to learn about places like Rivers of Steel (www.riversofsteel.com), the Carrie Furnaces and the Pump House, something I would of never sought out on my own.
When I returned from Malawi in August I did not know what to expect. I had over 200 items including little girls’ dresses, women’s skirts, iPad and laptop sleeves and other various handicrafts to sell so that THREEafrica could provide sustainable jobs and for women and education past 8th grade for girls. The success of THREE is a bit overwhelming for me. I believe educating girls is a social investment and a way out of poverty for everyone in developing countries. I encourage you to see the film, Girl Rising (www.girlrising.com) and the documentary Half the Sky (www.pbs.org/independentlens/half-the-sky) and learn how you can help make a difference in these girl’s lives.
Finally, I have a request for all of you. I am so pleased to report that all of the items from THREEafrica sold very well and the only items left are posted on (www.etsy.com/shop/THREEafrica). Please take a look and pass the word out to all your friends to also take a look for last minute holiday gifts.
I will be returning to Malawi soon and will bring back more dresses and other items that you can purchase to help the women and girls in Malawi. I also have a l lot of stories from my summer trip that I now will have the time to tell you about. Check back soon, keep your eye on etsy and all of us at THREEafrica wish you a happy holiday season!