The vendor FSTO (From Slaveship to Ownership) not only saves lives, but also feeds families and gives the outcast women in Ghana a place to call home by employing them to make handmade baskets.
The vendor FSTO (From Slaveship to Ownership) not only saves lives, but also feeds families and gives the outcast women in Ghana a place to call home by employing them to make handmade baskets. Even though all 452 women in the Ti-a organization are outcasts, Rhonda Piggins still makes time to visit with them three times a year. Rhonda Piggins (also known as Simbala Drammeh) is the founder and owner of Ti-a and manages FTSO. Rhonda works directly with the women to ensure that they are getting paid above fair-trade. Ti-a has founded a basket weaving school in the village of Bolgatanga to educate young weavers the techniques of basket weaving and to teach older weavers some new and advanced techniques. Ti-a employs about 4% of Bolgatanga’s population.
The women weave baskets made from grass by hand. First they take a strand of grass, put it between their teeth, bite it and pull it, to split it down the middle. Then they take the two strands of grass and start twisting them together. Next they color the grass with natural dyes such as roots and vegetables. Finally they weave the grass together in several different patterns and styles. Once the basket is ready, they make handles with grass and cover it in goat skin.
They produce ten different styles of these colorful baskets and it takes them anywhere from less than a day to five days to make one basket. The baskets are folded and transported in large rice sacks and sent by air freight to the USA. When FSTO receives the baskets, they soak them in cold water, shape them, and hang them to dry before selling them. The baskets cannot hold liquids because they are not sealed with unprocessed beeswax. The most popular basket is the shopper which is used primarily for groceries instead of plastic bags. These baskets are not only beautiful, but they are also environmentally friendly.