After we had set up at the hotel ‘Comme ci Comme ca’ … which is not really comme ci comme ca but actually quite nice 🙂 (i am sitting under one of these thatched roof gazebos drinking my delicious nestcafe and eating porridge … ( getting ready for winter back home!!) … Anyways, all that aside, we set off to find the Baba Tree .. since it is impossible to actually give directions except in broad terms like ‘ Drive back towards Tamale and then someone will be waiting for you on the street’ Which street ? No street names sorry … i thought i would try GPS and presto! We just followed ‘us’ the dot all the way there … slowly it seeps in these gps are amazing – more magic!
We went down a very bumpy unkempt road to a very unpreposing building and disembarked…
I had read all there was to read about Baba Tree on their website and was looking forward to seeing an organization that had such high integrity and real committed values.. this is what i read in a blog of Baba Trees website and it is really worth reading :
“Who we are
We are not a “project”, a charity, a foundation or a non – governmental organization (NGO).
Though we engage small acts of charity every day, we are here, in Bolgatanga, to do business and do our best to empower the folks with whom we work through the open market.
“Saving the poor Africans” is not a narrative that we employ. Charity often carries the subtle message: ‘you are not capable of doing it yourselves.’ The people with whom we work are very capable.
Though we have customers who are very committed to their charities and purchase our baskets wholesale to raise money for them, the Baba Tree chooses to empower our people in the market place. It’s not that the Baba Tree is fundamentally opposed to aid and charity, it’s that it is rarely carried out honestly, efficiently and effectively which creates further dysfunction.
The weavers with whom the Baba Tree works are more than capable of taking care of themselves, excelling through their own sweat and creativity that ultimately produces Excellence.
The Baba Tree refines and cultivates the excellence brought forth through our weavers, and does an excellent job organizing and marketing that excellence throughout the world.
We are not subsidized by free labour (volunteers, interns, or volunteers who pay to work!!!). We are not subsidized in any form at all. All that is produced, and received, by the Baba Tree, is through our own sweat and creativity. At the Baba Tree everyone gets paid…”
… needless to say after reading this i was hooked and hyped and had expectations though this is always a bad idea as you are disappointed so many times. After reading through the website i happened to be visiting Jean, my mom, who is 87 and thinks i am a pretty Intrepid Traveler … though i shrug off her admiration it always touches my heart! I had been trying to get various businesses interested in backing me but no one was biting … and was telling her and my brother that since i had spent my money on the G-lish Baskets i wish i could have found some sponsers … when she said: i will back you! Wow! That is so cool … And thanks to my Mom i was able to visit the Baba Tree with a little cash in my pocket!
From the moment we stepped into the little compound you could feel the energy and strong happy vibes. There were weavers in every nook and cranny chatting to each other while their hands were busy working. The compound is shaped in a big square with a courtyard in the middle … and a kind of wrap around porch with shade surrounds the small rooms … And the place was bustling … Gregory told me later that this was quiet as it is harvesting season and usually there were hundreds of people rushing around. Well it seem quite bustling to me!
Gregory was in the middle of filling a big order and we were early for our meeting so i would just get glimpses of him as he and his managers rushed around … i took the time to poke around and was astonished at the amount of work going on and had gone on – all the rooms were filled with gorgeous baskets!! Baskets, baskets, baskets of all sorts!!
Finally Gregory who is like a darting butterfly managed to settle enough to say hi and we introduced ourselves and he made sure we got water and offered us lunch … since it was ‘grass’ (read:lettuce) from his garden and quineua (how do you spell that??) salad i was delighted! Lettuce is not seen as food here … it was delicious and my stomach welcomed the fresh food after rice and pasta, rice and pizza!! We ate in the courtyard and had a great rambling discussion about the world (how it is totally f…ed) … Then he was off and running again leaving us in the charge of a very capable young man, Azuri.
Gregory has known Azuri since he was knee high to a grasshopper… and he has turned out be a great facilitator. He would bring out the baskets and several men would spread them out so choosing was easier… oh man the choice!! They were all so beautiful! Why can’t i just bring them all!? But i got into the rythmn of it remembering advice from several of my trusted advisors back home (Andrea and Brigitte) … i got plain rattan so we could add pom poms, Andrea! And i really tried to think about my clients and choose classy as well as colourful, Brigitte! And, Mom, your loan was perfect – not only was i able to get lots of baskets – even a very special one for me (my early Christmas present) it was also able to pay the arifreight back home! And the baskets are all so gorgeous i know i will be able to pay you back in record time, right World???
Gregory photographs special baskets for the internet to sell retail … these baskets will give the Weavers an added commision!! Each basket is carefully photographed by Gregory! Check out the baskets here…
Gregory knows Hidir’s (A Bead Trader) guy in the airfreight business … oh Ghana is a small world!! And Mohamed seems to have a most impeccable reputation as everyone sings him praises .. my beautiful beads and baskets are in good hands!!
We left Gregory and his merry band packing up another order… I can tell you you are in good hands with this bunch!… every order is carefully handpicked by Gregory and his merry band … i watched them packing up an order!! It was beautiful to watch…
You can order baskets straight from Baba Tree, Ghana by shopping here
Or get in touch with me in Montreal as i will have a small collection of Baskets from Baba Tree for sale on my website or make an arrangement for a visit by contacting me!!
Whichever way buy Baskets from Baba Tree, Bolga, Ghana! You will get something beautiful and ethical … a rarity in the World!!