Treana Peake in her Vancouver design studio on Jan. 5, 2018 The Globe and Mail
Organizer: Trina Beck
Pitch: Raise $50,000 and climb
The reason: earthquake relief efforts in Türkiye
Treana Peake learned from a young age how a small act of kindness can change someone’s life.
Ms. Beck grew up in rural Alberta, the only child of a single mother struggling to make ends meet. Every year around Christmas, someone shoved an envelope of money under their door to help the family get through the next year. Mrs. Beck never knew the identity of the benefactor, but the generosity made a deep impression.
When she was in high school, Ms. Beck set up a charity and raised money to help orphans in Romania and Africa. In 2005, she launched a Vancouver-based fashion company called Obakki and quickly combined her work with her philanthropic interests.
Today Obaki works with about 100 artisans in 14 countries and sells everything from Atzumba pottery from Mexico to baskets woven by a women’s group in Uganda and brass-piece jewelry found on the streets of Nairobi, Kenya. The Obagi Foundation, which started in 2009, focuses on providing clean water and education largely in Africa.
“We buy products from artisans to help achieve this economic stability, and then reinvest our profits back into their communities,” explained Ms. Beck. “Sometimes it’s in the form of clean water or schools.”
Some of Ms. Beck’s weaving partners are based in Turkey and were devastated by the February earthquake that struck the heart of the country’s textile industry. It is raising money to help with ongoing relief and rebuilding work. This includes sending emergency container homes and funding programs that provide food, drug and mental health services.
She added, “We have quite a few Turkish linens that we purchased from artisan groups in the region, and we donate 100 percent of the proceeds from these linens to the region.”
Ms. Beck, 50, has raised about $50,000 so far and hopes to at least triple that amount in the coming weeks. She also wants people to understand that the state of emergency in Türkiye is not over yet. “I think with an earthquake as soon as it happens, people think ‘that’s it, it happened, everyone’s fine,’” she said. “But right now the need is greater.”
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