I love collected home decor items from my travels, and some of my absolute favorites are my baskets from West Africa. They’re functional, colorful, and remind of a time in my life that I’ll always treasure. I lived in the Upper East region of Ghana for two years where I was a Peace Corps volunteer and teacher. The famous souvenir from the regional capital of Bolgatanga are Bolga baskets, which are made by local artisans not just from the city of Bolga but also surrounding villages. They’re handwoven from elephant grass and provide Ghanaians with economic opportunities.
There are many places to buy Bolga baskets online, but if you’re interested in supporting a project that goes above and beyond the fair trade model, check out Blessing Baskets. A volunteer I served with worked closely with this non-profit that exists to help reduce poverty in the countries where it works. I was able to visit her village to meet some of the artisans, watch them work, and of course buy baskets! They developed what they call a prosperity model that pays the artisans at least 2.5 times the Fair Trade wage, allowing for financial independence through entrepreneurship. In addition to providing income for the artisans, the project helps empower women and in Ghana built a school for girls. I try to be intentional about my purchases and like that a simple basket not only brings economic empowerment but also education to girls.