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Heaven scent

Green Lifestyle

A truly angelic, all-natural, ethically-sourced fragrance is helping to support an inspirational charity in Africa.

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There's full traceability on all the Trilogy product ingredients – including the sunflower seeds used to make the oil in their new 'Jua' natural perfume.

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At Green Lifestyle, we hear about hundreds of new products, but this product involves a partnership that has really captured us. Trilogy is all about great natural skincare, but they also have a very strong social responsibility aspect. This week, they've launched a natural fragrance to raise money for an inspirational cause.

Cassandra Treadwell is a lawyer by trade, but in 2009 she founded a charity with a long-term vision to help African children out of poverty. The mandate of the charity, called So They Can, is to destroy the statistic that 22,000 children die every day just because they’re poor.

Lisa Wilson is the International Communications Manager for Trilogy products, and first heard of Treadwell's work a few years ago. “We understand that we’re in a privileged position, because we do have our products on display around the world,” said Wilson.

“For us, the So They Can charity is all about women-supporting-women. Trilogy was started by two very inspirational sisters, and we have this great ‘sisterology’ feeling within the company,” Wilson told us.

Wilson invited Treadwell to speak with the Trilogy team. “After we heard her stories, no one in the room could speak... Everybody in the room knew that we needed to be involved and that we needed to do something.”

An angel's epiphany

Treadwell says she had her ethical epiphany to start a charity after watching the film Hotel Rwanda. “Admittedly I was pretty emotionally-challenged because I’d just had our third child, and it was two o’clock in the morning! But I went to bed that night determined to do something rather than being horrified at the terrible atrocities that are allowed to go on around the world.

With a background in bringing together corporate law firms and hospitals, Treadwell knew she needed to “join the business and philanthropic worlds in a long-term, sustainable fashion”.

“In 2007, the Kenyan national elections we held. I don’t know if you remember it, but I remember watching the news and seeing the Kenyans being locked in churches and the churches lit alight, and it was horrendous,” says Treadwell.

As a result, 250,000 local Kenyans were sent fleeing from the west of Kenya to the east – a place called Nakuru.

“It was very analogous to the Hotel Rwanda situation, where one tribe came and massacred another tribe so that they’re not around to vote.

“They landed in the Nakuru showgrounds with nothing – the United Nations had given them all tents to live in and after a few months the Kenyan government said, here’s the equivalent of $100, and go back home. But they’d lost everything – their businesses, home, family, and loved ones.

“The initiative that I loved about these people is that with that $100, they collated it all together and bought pockets of land in the safer Nakuru District, and they picked up their tents and took them to what is now called the Internally-Displaced person’s camps, the IDP camps. So they’re refugee camps, but with internal Kenyans in them.

“So in 2009, I took myself off to Africa after watching Hotel Rwanda. I’d visited these IDP camps... I sat with a Committee of 50 people representative of all the tribes, and I asked what I could do to help. I thought they’d say feed us, but they didn’t, they said educate our kids – build us a school.

“The Committee said that education is the key to stopping tribal violence, because when a man is ignorant, if someone tells them to murder their wife from a different tribe, they do it because they don’t have the confidence of an education to question that.

“We opened the school in 2010 to our adorable 110 kids. We’ve now got over 700 kids at the school, and by 2017 there’ll be a full primary school, and we hope to have at least 1,000 students.

“We have a big focus on the results that the kids get, and I’m proud to say that the oldest ones came first in the national exams.

“We put a Clinic on the ground because in the community of 20,000 there were children dying of very preventable diseases.

“It cost us $20,000 to put a school on the ground there, and we want to make the most of that, so when the kids leave school at 4pm in the afternoon, the women come in and we put them through a 3-month business training course, and then microfinance them with a $150 loan. We put about 300 women a year through that.

When Treadwell visited Nakuru in 2010, she visited the local dump and found about 1,000 people living there. “Many of them were children, and they’re orphaned from AIDS, or orphaned from the 2007 elections.”

“I’d just had my fourth child – and every kid there looked the age of one of my kids at home. It was just a horrific place. There’s massive vultures that attack the kids to get the food off them, that they get out of the scraps of rubbish. And they slept with pigs at night to keep them warm.

So, she helped build the Holding Hands children’s home. “It’s like a mini-boarding school. It’s imperative these kids get an education, or they’re not going to break the poverty cycle. So, for the 120 children that we have at the home, they go to our primary school as well.

A few years ago, Treadwell visited a remote rural area in Tanzania, and now she also manages an education project over there. “The quality of government teachers is very poor, so we’ve built a teacher’s training college. We’ve worked with 11 schools there, affecting over 6,500 kids in that area.”

“They’re very subsistence-based farmers there. They own land, but they’re very poor, and reliant on rain. If it doesn’t rain, crops don’t grow, and they don’t eat.”

The So They Can charity manages 30 acres of land in the area for a community farming project, teaching better farming practices, but also raising funds, particularly for local children.

“This is where Trilogy's initiative really makes a difference,” says Treadwell.

Trilogy buy the sunflower seeds for a fair price, to make their African-inspired natural fragrance.

Women-supporting-women

“The last five years have taught me that charity is not about giving. It’s a reciprocal exchange if you like, of material and emotional wealth. And we really need each other,” says Treadwell.

“The concept of us coming in on our great white horse with pity is wrong – I’ve had incredible two-way experiences over there.

“There’s a beautiful African word over there – it’s ubuntu – and it means ‘I am who I am because of you’. I’ve felt the power of this word personally, and it makes me pretty emotional.

“I started off thinking I was going to go and help them. And unexpectedly I’ve received much back, particularly in learning how to live well.

“I met a woman in 2009 at one of the horrific IDP camps, and she had a child the age of mine, so she took me to her tent for a cuppa tea, and she just asked for some peace and quiet while I held her child in my arms. She didn’t speak English, and I didn’t speak Swahili. When I left, someone told me her story. Her husband and child were murdered in the 2011 election, and she was raped. The little girl I was holding was the result of that rape, and she chose to call that baby Miracle. That story has never ceased to amaze me that she turned what I would see as a complete tragedy into a Miracle. She taught me to change my mindset. And to just to choose happiness.

“The people over there, they live in the present moment, they live with this sense of joy, they teach me to laugh more about life. There’s not that sense of sadness that you might expect in these materially-poor countries.

Scent of angels

Wilson says that the idea to create a charity product caused a bit of excitement. “It’s very fitting, because fragrance creates mood, you smell it and it gives you a feeling of something,” she says.

“So we thought, wouldn’t it be great if we could create a fragrance that when people use it it reminds them of this story of Africa?”

Stacey, who helped to develop the beauty product, went to Africa so she could fully understand it. Check out this short video about Stacey's trip that shows the beautiful sunflower crops, how they process the oil, and where the benefits of the Trilogy product are going.

There aren’t many all-natural fragrances on the market, because “to create a natural fragrance is not as easy as it seems. It was a challenge to create something that smells beautiful, is sophisticated, and something that you want to wear, or give as a gift,” says Wilson.

“We’re donating $NZ2 for every bottle that is sold directly to the So They Can charity. And we’ve donated 2,000 bottles to So they Can for their fundraising events, so they have this nice return on investment.”

Treadwell says she's so thankful that Trilogy was so keen to join with So They Can, “realising my strengths of bringing together the business and philanthropic worlds, and creating this beautiful product which I love, and that can make us all happy”.

Wilson agrees. “The name of it, jua, means ‘sunshine’ in Swahili. So it has a lovely sunny feeling that we hope it brings to those who wear it.”

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Trilogy is not an advertiser with Green Lifestyle, the author of this story was simply inspired to write about this gorgeous new product when she was given a 7.5 ml (valued at $21.95) to try. She highly recommends the Jua fragrance as a gift, or just for yourself!