Qinnie’s life-changing adventure

Qinnie Wang life changing adventure

Qinnie Wang describes herself as “just an ordinary girl” who lives and works in Canberra, Australia’s capital, and loves to travel. 

But it was during her Great Indochina Loop trip with Intrepid late last year, that the seed was planted for a major change in her life purpose and direction. Qinnie explains more…

“During this fabulous trip we travelled through Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. My heart was deeply touched by the friendly and warm people I met, the poverty I witnessed and the beautiful handicrafts I bought. When we visited one of the ancient temples in Cambodia, we met up with a bunch of young local boys and girls, aged between about 7 and 12.  Each of them bonded with one of our group and followed us for the next 2 hours or so, walking through the undergrowth in their bare feet.

They gently spoke a few words of English – like ‘careful’ and ‘beautiful lady’ and they constantly showed us the scarves they had for sale. Each child carried some and they all looked like much the same style but in different colours. The quality was poor, but at the end of the walk, when they looked at us with innocent eyes, I couldn’t say no and bought two. I asked our tour guide later, how much the children could make per scarf, and the answer was just a few cents. 

That afternoon, as we returned to our homestay, I was even quieter than usual. I felt deep sorrow, and a bursting desire to do something to help these children. In the evening we talked with the locals openly on many topics. What struck me was how much they wanted their children to have a better life than they had, and how hard working and humble these people were.

I was deeply moved. During the following week or so, I had many ideas that I wrote down in a notepad. By the time I returned to Australia, the notepad was full, and ‘Global Handmade’ was born.

Global Handmade is a non-profit fair trade importer and retailer offering a wide range of handmade high quality products from around the globe. We’ve been able to access some wonderful fair trade products, like hand-woven and tie-dyed cotton scarves made by Phou Tai women in Laos, children’s mobiles made by Akha women in Laos and wine carriers made with indigo-dyed hand spun, hand woven cotton made by Oma women of Laos. 

We promised that we would donate AU$10 for every item sold before the end of February, and we delivered that promise. We sold 54 items in total, and we donated AU$540 to UXO Lao. With matching funds from Intrepid Travel, this means AU$1,080 goes to UXO Lao to help support their landmine community education work.

Global Handmade now stocks a range of quality fair trade products from Bolivia, Cambodia, Central Asia, Laos, Indonesia, Thailand and Yunnan in China. And I’ve chosen other projects to support including a school in Peru supported through The Intrepid Foundation. The reason I started Global Handmade was because of an eye opening trip to Southeast Asia. I was deeply touched and suddenly found my purpose in life and my passion.

The sole purpose of Global Handmade is to fight poverty through fair trade.

I love Intrepid and I’m doing another Intrepid trip soon with my partner and father, Xi’an to Kathmandu, which I’m really looking forward to. I’m sure it’ll also be eye-opening. I still work full time as an actuary, but I hope to build up the business to eventually become Australia’s favourite online fair trader and help as many people as possible.”

We hope Qinnie realises her dream too – Intrepid is thrilled to receive profits from Global Handmade towards their chosen The Intrepid Foundation projects.

UPDATE, July 14 – Global Homemade has been renamed to Oz Fair Trade, enabling Qinnie to demonstrate her full commitment to Fair Trade principles. To learn more about Qinnie’s journey, Oz Fair Trade’s values, to buy some fabulous products or sign up to their newsletter, go to Oz Fair Trade.

About the author

Jane Crouch - Jane is currently Intrepid Travel's Responsible Business Communications Specialist and writes about all aspects of how travel can bring positive environmental, social and economic benefits. Informed through travel on 7 continents, leading Intrepid trips through SE Asia, work in outdoor education, energy conservation, international development, travellers philanthropy and climate change action, plus a big love of walking, mountains and world music.

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