As part of our commitment to return a percentage of our profits to the harvesting communities, we have implemented well building projects in various villages in Somaliland. Potable water is something many of us in developed countries take for granted. Until I visited Somaliland, I didn’t have an appreciation for how amazing it is that we can just turn on a faucet and clean, running water comes out. In Somaliland, especially in rural villages, people don’t have water taps in their entire village, let alone their house. When I stayed in Hargeisa, the capital, I was in a modest house that was lucky enough to have a spigot in the yard, and even a shower in the house. However, even in a city with more than one milliion people, there were times during the day that no water would flow from the spigot due to water shortages. It made me keenly aware of just how much we mindlessly use water in our daily lives. Aside from drinking and cooking (the obvious uses), washing our laundry and even flushing the toilet requires water. I was now in a place where I had to plan ahead for my water usage. I knew what time of the day there would be no water, so prior to that I would fill up the wash tub in the yard to do our laundry. I would fill the bucket next to the toilet to flush. We would fill large plastic jugs of water to have on hand throughout the day. And again, this is in the capital! Once you get out to rural villages, the closest stream to fetch water is literally miles away. So, everyday, women and girls take large yellow plastic jugs (that once held cooking oil), and walk miles to the nearest water source. There, they fill their jugs, and carry them miles back to their village. Have you ever carried a 5 gallon jug of water? It weighs over 40 pounds. These aren’t just girls, they’re Supergirls!
Aside from the back-breaking work of carrying these jugs, one of the most dire consequences of having this task fall on the shoulders (literally and figuratively) of young girls is that their opportunity to attend school is effectively non-existent. Water wins over education. This is something, as an American, I would not have naturally connected the dots between had I not been exposed to this issue. Simply having access to potable water in a village can change a girl’s life dramatically in that she now has the option to attend school. Mind blown.
This video is from one or our solar well projects in Somaliland.
This well was dug by
hand; a gigantic feat considering the rocky soil in this region.
Since then, we have purchased a mobile drill rig that can be hooked
up to a vehicle and moved from village to village. This will help
greatly as we embark on our next round of wells. We’ve finally
secured the last of the materials (pipes, solar pumps, solar panels)
that will now need to be packed up in a container and shipped by
ocean to Somaliland. The logistics and planning that goes into these
well projects literally takes years. There are many times that the
pace makes me frustrated and stressed because we feel a sense of
obligation to the people in Somaliland and want them to know how much
we value them as partners and people. Without these harvesting
communities, none of us would have the gift of frankincense, and
Boswellness certainly wouldn’t be where we are today. This is what
keeps us moving forward, no matter the pace, we have to have faith
that it will all work out for everyone involved.
We thoroughly enjoyed giving a tour to a group of Certified Aromatherapists at our distillation facility. One of them, Kc Rossi, who is also a talented business coach, wrote this wonderful piece about her visit to our distillery.
Boswellness–in collaboration with Somcable, Omaar Int’l, Mount Kenya University (MKU) and Centre for Frankincense Environmental and Social Studies (CFESS)–is pleased to announce a conference assessing 21st Century Challenges and Opportunities. This Somali-led conference, the first of its kind, will take place October 7 & 8, 2017, in Hargeisa, Somaliland, bringing together scientists, sociologists, harvesters, land owners, business owners and other stakeholders. The focus of the conference is supporting research and education for sustainable frankincense production. We are very excited about it!
In the horn of Africa, a small native tree, covered in spines, grows in the arid deserts. When the bark is wounded through to the sapwood, the tree exudes an aromatic, oily, yellow oleo gum resin that eventually hardens into a hard yellow-reddish opaque globule that can be easily harvested. The resin has an evocative smell and has been widely used in ceremonies and (Click here to continue reading…)
As many of us in the industry are aware, fragrance oils masquerading as essential oils are rampant. But forget the “industry”. Of course WE know, that’s our job. The people I want to get this message to are the consumers. Consumers of “all-natural” beauty products, “pure” essential oils, “wild crafted” oils, “organic” (notice I didn’t write “certified organic”) oils….these are the people that I want to share this information with. Most consumers are shelling out extra money for natural, organic, wild-crafted, whatever it may be, because they want the real health benefits that these plants offer. Continue reading “It Costs How Much?!!”
I really want to talk about our connection to the source of our frankincense and myrrh, Somaliland, and how it is truly the foundation of our business. Part of our mission statement reads: “Reinvesting in the harvesting communities and paying the harvesting families a fair price is at the core of our business.”
I’m always struggling with how to let people know our mission is not just lip service (without sounding preachy), but something we are constantly working towards as we go about our business. Every decision made is done so with that one sentence in mind. We have this crazy idea that business can actually do so much good when it’s not solely focused on the bottom line. Not to say that profit isn’t important (or there would be no business), but reinvesting in the health and longevity of the local community is just as (if not more so) important. Continue reading “This Is More Than Just Distilling”
Mahdi and I enlisted two partners (and friends), Billy and Casey, early on in our business who shared our passion for creating a socially responsible business. The four of us decided that we needed to travel to Somaliland to meet with the harvesters of the frankincense. We wanted to understand how this resin was obtained, meet the people who had been doing it for centuries upon centuries, and build a bridge from Somaliland to Vermont, so to speak. Mahdi and I had planned on meeting our two partners in Hargeisa, and we set out on our adventure…the long way. We decided to fly into Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and drive from there to Hargeisa, Somaliland. This drive across East Africa was hands down the most eye opening, amazing adventure for a girl from Maine who had never set foot in Africa before. Especially since we took public buses the whole way. The unbelievable landscapes, the kind people, the dusty winding roads, the mechanical problems, the “sand tornados” in the vast desert, the pesky baboons, the curious stares at the lone American girl…all of it made for a truly unforgettable experience. Continue reading “The Adventure Of A Lifetime (For Me)!”