Tag Archives: amnesty international

Moo Kho Shares her Journey from Burma to the U.S. as a Refugee


Moo Kho eloquently shares her story as a refugee and the experience of receiving her first paycheck.  For the full webcast video, visit our Moo Kho Takes New York post.

inspired to learn more about women refugees?

Moo Kho standing proudly in front of an image of Aung San Suu Kyi receiving her Nobel Peace Prize

Moo Kho standing proudly in front of an image of Aung San Suu Kyi receiving her Nobel Peace Prize

On June 19th, The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) invited Moo Kho and Prosperity Candle’s founding partners Ted Barber and Siiri Morley to speak about our mission and work in honor of World Refugee Day.

Ted, Moo Kho, and Siiri headed down to New York for a jam-packed visit that included interviews about our fair trade mission to empower women, and creating new gift sets that bring together Equal Exchange, SERRV International and Prosperity Candle (stay tuned!).

While in town we also spoke at a Catchafire event as part of Claudia Chan’s S.H.E. Summit, met with Kate Spade to explore a potential collaboration, and reconnected with our first customer for custom designed candles that truly give back, Amnesty International.

And, despite our busy schedule, we took some time to enjoy New York, as it was Moo Kho’s first time visiting the city. We walked around Times Square in the evening, taking in the hustle and bustle.

At one point, Moo Kho looked up and said “Oh, it’s Aung San Suu Kyi!” Just coincidentally, Burma’s most respected human rights activist, was shown on a large screen finally receiving her Nobel Peace Prize. We just HAD to capture the moment.

inspired to learn more about women refugees?

Moo Kho Takes New York – as Aung San Suu Kyi receives her Nobel Prize

Watch out New York, Moo Kho and Aung San Suu Kyi are taking you by storm!

Moo Kho stands in Times Square proudly in front of Aung San Suu Kyi as she receives her Nobel Peace Prize, recognizing her work to advance human rights in Burma

Moo Kho stands proudly in front of Aung San Suu Kyi receives her Nobel Peace Prize

Our team was so delighted to have the opportunity to speak at our partner‘s office, UMCOR, in honor of World Refugee Day this past June. Ted, Moo Kho, and I headed down to New York for a jam-packed visit to speak at UMCOR, record more videos with them about our fair trade mission to empower women, and make plans for our next steps with fair trade holiday gifts (stay tuned for new gift sets that bring together Equal Exchange, SERRV International and Prosperity Candle!). While in town we also spoke at a Catchafire event as part of Claudia Chan’s S.H.E. Summit, met with Kate Spade to explore a potential collaboration, and reconnected with our oldest custom candle customer, Amnesty International.

Despite our busy schedule, we also took some time to enjoy New York, as it was Moo Kho’s first time visiting the city. We walked around Times Square in the evening, taking in the hustle and bustle. As we were walking, Moo Kho looked up and said “Oh, it’s Aung San Suu Kyi!” Just coincidentally, Burma’s most respected human rights activist, was shown on a large screen finally receiving her Nobel Peace Prize. We just HAD to capture the moment.

Moo Kho did a fantastic job at her Prosperity Candle speaking premiere. She told her personal story about being born in Thailand, moving back to Burma as a child to live with her grandmother, and the transition into a refugee camp in Thailand. She shared her desire to create a new life here in the United States – despite the cold winters of Massachusetts! She moved the audience to both tears and smiles.

We talk a lot about Moo Kho here at Prosperity Candle because its hard to imagine Prosperity Candle without her. She has worked with us since the very first moment of our local work with refugees and continues to be a critical part of our work. She has just been promoted to Production Manager in our Western Massachusetts location and is in charge of training more women in candle-making.

And now that we’ve hit the road together, we’re excited to travel more together to share our story. Imagine Moo Kho visiting Port au Prince, San Francisco, or Kigali, helping us expand our model and share our story with more people!

The Prosperity Candle team takes New York!
Moo Kho & Ted marvel at Times Square in New York City
Siiri Morley and Moo Kho Paw talk about Prosperity Candle's work to empower women refugees through candle-making with the United Methodist Church's Committee on Relief

Moo Kho & I speaking at UMCOR's headquarters for World Refugee Day



Looking Back on 2011

2011 was an amazing year for Prosperity Candle. As with any new organization, it had a lot of ups and downs, long nights for our teams, and many anxious moments. But as the year went on, we found our groove and grew as a social enterprise. Our team celebrated the new year with a lot of pride and anticipation about next steps for 2012.

We’d love to share some of our proudest accomplishments of 2011 here.

Growth of our Refugee Program

Prosperity Candle, a social enterprise in Massachusetts, works with women refugees from Burma to create high quality candles

We’re proud to say that we were able to expand our local program with Burmese women refugees in our Northampton, MA location. We trained two new women, Mee Mee and Naw, and Moo Kho was promoted to a trainer and manager. The women now work together beautifully and create stunning candles. They’ve been pouring perfect candles for a diverse range of clients and working more regular hours with us. And they’re learning more English every day!

An Amazing Team

Prosperity Candle sells meaningful gifts that give back, to women locally and globally. Give a gift, change a life.

We’ve been so lucky to have had the support of so many talented and passionate people throughout Massachusetts – and some either further afield (Chicago, NYC, etc.). Thank you to Nichole, Brenna, Elizabeth, Anna, Lynn, Joan, Kalista, Sarah, Ashleigh, Liz, Andrea, Sarah, Min Min, Stephanie, Sophie, Allen, Grace, Lourdes, Nandi, Lisa, Priti and Jamie for all of your help! You’ve helped us improve our branding, our newsletter, our social media/blog, our online marketing, our PR efforts, our product collection, and our sales outreach. And you’ve helped us at sales events, packed boxes, transport the refugee women… the list goes on! You’ve been invaluable to our team’s success.

A Beautiful New Product Line that Spans the World

Prosperity Candle gifts that change women's lives - from around the world.

As you must have noticed, our product line has expanded dramatically with new gift sets, artisan candles and collaborations with fair trade groups creating coffee, chocolate, tea, and other handcrafted products. We have been proud of the growth of our collection – which now spans the world from Haiti to Kenya, Vietnam to Afghanistan, Iraq to Massachusetts! Keep watch for our Valentine’s Day products, soon to come!

Custom Candles for Corporate, Donor & Event Gifts

Prosperity Candle creates meaningful corporate gifts, event and donor gifts that give back to women around the world

A big part of our growth has been thanks to business and nonprofit leaders interested in giving uniquecorporate, donor, and event giftsthat embody their organizational values. We are now customizing our candles with the branding of other organizations – complete with their colors, logo, messaging, and url. These candles have been purchased by groups like Amnesty International, Kiva, eBay’s Women’s Initiative Network, Women for Women International, the Harvard Business School’s Social Enterprise Conference, and FEED Projects, amongst many others! Thank you all for your support.

Deeper Partnerships with Nonprofit Causes

Prosperity Candle partners with Women for Women International to train women in Baghdad, Iraq in candlemaking

We have been proud to deepen our partnership with Women for Women International by becoming an alliance partner in addition to being a field partner. This means a commitment to supporting each others efforts to spread the word about our efforts and shared values.

We have also launched new collaborative efforts with groups like World Pulse and the Preemptive Love Coalition.

Faith-Based Partnerships

Prosperity Candle created advent candles that give back and empower women around the world

In 2011, we were excited to launch our first advent candle set for the advent season. It was a big hit!

We also started partnering with a number of faith-based groups committed to promoting social justice and undertaking humanitarian work around the world. We are proud to be working with the United Methodist Committee on Relief, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, and Week of Compassion.

More soon on some exciting announcements for 2012!

Prosperity Candle’s Charitable Gift Guide – Support a Cause!

With 2 more days to order our gifts in time for Christmas, we thought it would be helpful to create a gift guide for our gifts that donate to nonprofit causes.

To help you choose the right gift and cause for everyone on your holiday gift list, we’ve compiled our top picks here. 10% of each product goes to these partners!

Sponsor Women Survivors of War

Women for Women International is an extraordinary partner of ours. They help women survivors of war rebuild their lives through social support, vocational skills and international sister-to-sister sponsorship. They work in some of the world’s toughest places. We have partnered with their program graduates in Baghdad, Iraq. Our Women for Women travel tin candle and our Global Sisters Candle set both donate 10% to support their work.

Prosperity Candle partners with Women for Women International to create meaningful gifts that change women's lives

Women for Women travel tin candle gift

Women for Women International partners with Prosperity Candle to create meaningful gifts that change women's lives

Global Sisters Candle Set

Broadcast Women’s Stories to the World

World Pulse and Prosperity Candle team up to empower women

World Pulse is an extraordinary organization working to bring women’s voices into the mainstream so they can tell their own stories and connect with other women to create a global sisterhood. We are helping tell their story with our World Pulse travel tin set. On your next trip around the world, bring this travel tin set to remind you of the qualities you want to embody to create change in the world: courage, beauty, possibility. This comes in three enticing scents: tea infusion, lemongrass sage and arabian sandalwood.

Prosperity Candle's World Pulse travel set is a great charitable gift that supports a cause

World Pulse Travel Tin Set

Deliver Life-Saving Heart Surgery to Children in Iraq

The Preemptive Love Coalition and Prosperity Candle team up to empower women in Iraq

Our friends at the Preemptive Love Coalition do incredible work in Iraq to provide children with life-saving heart surgery. They are saving children’s lives every day from congenital heart disease. Every one of these Peace and Prosperity gift sets supports their incredible work.

Prosperity Candle's peace and prosperity gift set supports the charitable work of the Preemptive Love Coalition

Peace & Prosperity Gift Set

Bring Critical Health Services to Haiti

Partners in Health is an incredibly dedicated organization working to advance health services for all. They work in numerous countries around the world but are perhaps best known for their work in Haiti. They see health services as a basic human right. We’re proud to offer our Brighter Future Candle & Plate to benefit their work in Haiti.

Prosperity Candle's gift donates to the charitable cause Partners in Health in Haiti

A Brighter Future Candle & Plate

Advocate for Global Human Rights

Prosperity Candle and Amnesty International partner to empower women refugees from Burma

Amnesty International needs no introduction. It has been an honor to collaborate with them on their 50th anniversary candle this year. This Vessel of Light benefits their work and shines a light on 50 years of human rights. They have been tireless advocates of justice and freedom for all and are responsible for freeing innumerable political prisoners. We are excited to collaborate with them as they dive deeper into gender equality with their first female Executive Director!

Prosperity Candle supports Amnesty International with this charitable candle gift

Amnesty Vessel of Light

Support International Volunteerism

Prosperity Candle's travel tin candle supports the charitable cause National Peace Corps Association

The National Peace Corps Association is the organization that supports and connects returned Peace Corps Volunteers. Thousands of American volunteers span the world every year creating change for communities in need. But perhaps more importantly, the Peace Corps experience changes the volunteer’s lives forever. The National Peace Corps Association helps these returned volunteers continue to change the world for the rest of their lives. We’re proud to note that this National Peace Corps Association tin candle donates to their work and celebrates 50 years of the Peace Corps!

Prosperity Candle travel tin candle gift supports the charitable cause the National Peace Corps Association

National Peace Corps Association Travel Tin Candle

Vessel of Light Shines a Light on Human Rights for Amnesty International

We thought we’d take a moment to highlight a partnership that we’re incredibly proud of. Amnesty International, a leader in so many lights, is now playing a leadership role with gifts that give back. The team at Amnesty not only loves the symbolism of their candle (just look at their logo) but also loves that each candle we make is advancing human rights for women around the world.

Prosperity Candle's Vessel of Light shines a light on human rights for Amnesty in their incredible shop filled with charitable gifts that give back

Don’t you think our vibrant yellow candle looks stunning on their shop’s homepage? We’re so proud! Keep your eyes peeled for the Amnesty tin candles, too!

FEED the World with a Prosperity Candle FEED Joy Holiday Gift!

We have been truly blessed. So many incredible partnerships have taken root this year. We’ve deepened our partnerships with Women for Women International, Amnesty International, Partners In Health, Lutheran Social Services and the Preemptive Love Coalition. And now we’re developing new collaborative relationships with World Pulse, the Women’s Bar Association, 85 Broads, UMCOR, the Women’s Education Project and many others. The diversity of the groups we work with is incredible. Investing in women and finding gifts that give back to women is not just a trend! It seems like it’s here to stay.

Lauren Bush, founder of FEED Projects, has incorporated Prosperity Candle's gifts that change women's lives into her collection this year

Lauren Bush, Founder of FEED Projects

We’d like to highlight one organization that collaborating with has been particularly exciting for us: FEED Projects. You may have heard of them, as FEED was founded by philanthropist and model, Lauren Bush. Lauren was an intrepid young ambassador with the World Food Program before launching FEED. Her travels to learn more about the realities of hunger around the world inspired her to get involved. She conceived of FEED Projects as a way to raise funds for world hunger initiatives. As a model and fashionista, she wondered why more products were not offering charitable gifts. So she began creating gifts that give back to the World Food Program and UNICEF. Every one of her FEED bags and other products donate money towards a great cause.

Prosperity Candles are now feeding the world with Lauren Bush's FEED Project's holiday charitable gift collection

Prosperity Candles are now helping FEED the world

Lauren’s team was immediately interested in Prosperity Candle’s work. We’ll never forget our first meeting when she sat down, with a sparkle in her eye and said “Let’s do a FEED candle!” We were thrilled. We’re really honored to be teaming up with FEED and are excited to see our FEED Joy candle join their holiday gift collection this year. Not only does every candle empower a woman refugee build a new life, it also contributes to the fight against world hunger.

FEED, Compassion & Amnesty

What has your week been like? Ours has been crazy! So we thought we’d share it with you.

Special labels require special attention, especially when you’re making candles for great organizations. A few weeks ago it was Parnassus Investments and Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, and next week will be Edwards Wildman and Catalina Leadership. But right now, Naw, Mho Kho and Mee Mee  have been making perfect candles (and I do mean our best travel tin candles ever) for FEED Projects, Week of Compassion and Amnesty International while I go back and forth with our graphic designer and printer trying to get the colors, paper and layout right for these important orders.

Feed Projects, Week of Compassion, Amnesty International

Candles we're making for Feed Projects, Week of Compassion & Amnesty International

It’s been a whirlwind of supplies arriving, customers ordering, shipments going out… and these three incredible women – refugees from Burma – working together, laughing and chatting in Karen (one of over 100 languages spoken in Myanmar, formerly Burma). They’ve recently resettled in Western Massachusetts through a U.N. program, and now seek to rebuild their lives in an entirely new community far from the persecution they fled.

Nawte, Moo Kho & Mee Mee, Burmese refugees

Naw, Moo Kho & Mee Mee, Burmese refugees

We feel lucky to have met these women, and privileged to be working by their sides. Yesterday it finally occurred to me that while Naw and Mee Mee work on learning English (Moo Kho’s is perfect), it’s time the rest of us start learning some Karen.   – Ted

New candles light a summer evening

Last night we invited our neighbors over for some wine and cheese, and I thought it would be nice to light the patio with our new coffee can and soda bottle candles… plus a few others, including our Amnesty International Vessel of Light and Cheryl Summa’s lovely Global Connections pillar with its floral design.

patio candle, coffee can candle, soda bottle candle, refugee women, women refugees, meaningful gift, citronella candle

A summer evening lit by Prosperity Candles

What is better than stories and laughter, a California red and Italian white, cheese from Vermont and the Pyrenees… all in the glow of a setting sun and handmade candles that help resilient women rebuild their lives?

All of us at Prosperity Candle are working long hours to create a social enterprise with tremendous impact – one that can change lives.  We’re passionate about what we do.  Sometimes it’s great to step back for a moment and enjoy the candles themselves – these perfect symbols of peace, reflection, and hope for a better future for the women who made them – and for us all.

Last night was such an occasion.  The candles burned brightly and beautifully, and even after 3 hours had hardly begun to burn down.  That means a lot more wonderful evenings ahead!     – Ted

Amnesty International Celebrates 50 Years with Prosperity Candle’s Vessels of Light

Amnesty International, a beacon for the promotion of human rights and dignity, has decided to feature Prosperity Candles for their 50th anniversary product collection, highlighting their “shine a light on human rights” campaign. We are incredibly honored and excited to share in the celebration of their efforts, and to provide gifts whose value resonates deeply with their mission. In addition to the co-branded Vessels of Light, Amnesty International is also featuring a Putumayo World Music CD. Both products will be sold on their website and will be featured at events in the coming weeks.

For more about the campaign, click here.

Each Vessel of Light is made by female Burmese refugees who are now living in Springfield MA, and working with Prosperity Candle in their nearby office. These women have experienced the same atrocities against which Amnesty International works so diligently, and we feel that these candles represent the intersection of our respective missions: to shed light on regions of conflict and defend human rights within them, and to empower their inhabitants to overcome and prosper. Every candle features both the Amnesty International and Prosperity Candle story and logo, as well as the name of the woman who made the candle.

Moo Kho and Mee Mee, two refugees from Burma, packaging Prosperity Candle's Vessels of Light for Amnesty International, creating meaningful gifts that empower women

To read about the lives of these refugees and the other women working with Prosperity Candle, visit our voices page.

A tornado’s wake, a community’s support

Tornadoes.  Have you ever been stricken by one, or seen firsthand the destruction they leave behind?  Until last Wednesday, I had only seen it on TV.

Mee Mee & Moo Kho, refugees from Burma who work with Prosperity Candle

Mee Mee, Moo Kho and I were in Florence, just 15 minutes north of where the tornado struck in western Massachusetts at the start of its 39 mile path.  We were in the midst of making candles for Amnesty International and had no idea a warning had gone out until my wife Patsy called.  Kids were being ushered into school hallways away from windows, which at first seemed like just a precaution.  But it wasn’t.  Stepping outside, we saw a strange sight – layers of clouds moving in opposite directions.  Not wanting to get caught on the highway, we decided to heed the warnings and wait until the threat had passed.

Mee Mee and Moo Kho, both refugees from Burma who were recently resettled in West Springfield after years in Nepalese camps, live just a block from where the tornado touched down.  By the time we reached their neighborhood, the streets had been closed down by police and fire trucks.  Fortunately, no one they know was harmed.  But others were, and yesterday I saw firsthand the houses torn apart and collapsed, roofs peeled off, huge trees uprooted, and holes punched into brick buildings.  In just a few minutes, the tornado left an astonishing path of destruction in its wake.

To everyone here, across the South and Midwest, and everywhere tornadoes have taken lives, homes and more, we offer our condolences and hope that nature will not repeat itself.  We are especially thankful that Mee Mee and Moo Kho, Beda and Tila (also refugees who have worked with Prosperity Candle), and their families are OK.  And I am incredibly moved by the support they are receiving from friends, neighbors, and both local and state agencies.  Seeing how communities come together in times of need is inspiring.      – Ted