Global Builders' t-shirts much more than they appear

When the hundreds of people head off to various countries to help build homes through The Fuller Center for Housing’s Global Builders program, they each receive t-shirts that help promote and celebrate their mission.

But the t-shirts Global Builders teams wear do more than lift team members spirits and give them something to talk about when they wear them back home — they change lives in another country, Nicaragua to be exact.

On Wednesday, Fuller Center Director of International Field Operations Ryan Iafigliola went to Atlanta to pick up a shipment of 700 t-shirts for Global Builders teams — shirts he hopes to go through very quickly as The Fuller Center’s international work continues to grow and expand. “We’re going to try to use them up real fast,” he said.

And the sooner he has to reorder, the happier some 20 or so families in Nicaragua will be.

For the second year, the t-shirts have come directly from a fair-trade women’s co-operative — Zona Franca Masili — near Managua, Nicaragua, and not far from The Fuller Center’s Global Builders destination of Las Penitas. The co-op was formed with the help of several churches after Hurricane Mitch roared into Nicaragua in 1998, devastating and displacing families in its path.

“When we’re talking about partnership in this ministry, I think this is one of those great ways to partner,” Iafigliola said. “They are contributing plenty of value to all of our teams going around the world, and we’re paying them a fair wage to do it.”

The few dollars more it costs to order from the co-operative is worth it, he says.

“When you’re talking t-shirts for our trips, it’s tempting to go for the low-cost option because that’s a part of who we are — we want to stretch every donor dollar as far as we can,” he said. “That’s understandable. But with something like this, when you’re stretching that money, you’re kind of hurting people with one hand by underpaying them for their work while on the other hand saying let’s work together to help you improve your life. So I think it’s good to try to treat people fairly and to try to do it in partnership. Thankfully with t-shirts, this is one way we can do it.”

So, when Global Builders are hard at work in the field in places like Nicaragua, Peru, Haiti, India and Nepal, they can feel good not only about the work they are doing but about the very shirts on their backs.

“The cooperative down there, they’ve really needed business,” Iafigliola said. “It’s been slow, unfortunately, for them. But we calculated that for this order of shirts (700), it probably provided livelihood to these 20 families for a month. This will be a month that they celebrate and be able to spend a little more on their children’s school supplies and have a little bit of extra food for the family and things like that.”

Zona Franca Masili is a female-run business in Nicaragua, producing organic cotton clothing.
Meet the amazing women of Masili and have a glimpse of their vibrant working environment.

Get more info, along with the inspiring story of Masili, at:

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