Wisdom Garden Frog
Luck, joy, transformation...who better to instruct us in life's most buoyant attributes than the one who embodies them best? Our happy toad endows your garden with personality and good cheer.
- Large ($12.95); 4.75" H x 5.5" W x 7" D (12.1 x 14 x 17.8 cm)
- Small ($7.95); 2.75" H x 3.5" W x 4" D (7 x 8.9 x 10.2 cm)
- Handmade in and fairly traded from El Salvador
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In the El Salvadoran city of Ilobasco, the number of young men joining street gangs skyrocketed during the 1990s, when the U.S. began deporting gang members back to their Salvadoran homeland. With few jobs available, violent crime became all too common in the streets.
A local priest named Juan Francisco Molina believed that opening a dialogue with gang members was a viable first step in countering the crime epidemic. He began reaching out to members of two rival gangs, Mara Salvatrucha and Mara 18, asking members what they would need to be able to build new lives. After several meetings, Father Juan's group identified with four main areas of need: education, training, drug and alcohol treatment, and creation of cultural and recreational spaces.
Father Juan founded Moje, an association dedicated to providing gang members with the tools to make better choices in life. With the backing of several NGOs and funding from the United Nations, Father Juan began working with a group of fifty young people in 1997. Since then, Moje has emerged as a leader in business, training, employing, and finding work for over 150 young men per year.
Former gang member Rosario Hernandez is grateful for the change Moje has made in his life. "Life in the gangs, physical and emotional pain, aggression, and drugs are things of the past. My new life began the day I met members of Moje. I have a new direction in my life, I have started a family and I am helping others," he says.
Moje's approach is fourfold: mentoring and counseling at-risk youth; providing artisan training in traditional Salvadoran and Mayan style; providing job search assistance to its graduates; and marketing its own remarkable crafts. Moje's stunning handmade products are sold in stores throughout El Salvador and the U.S., and sales are growing. Since its beginning in 1997, gang membership in Ilobasco has dropped 85%, from 1300 to 200 members -- and violent crime has been reduced dramatically.
The GreaterGood Network is proud to carry Moje's Wisdom Garden Frog, a Mayan symbol of life and fertility, and a symbol of the new opportunities Moje provides to its artisans.