A heartwarming Christmas story in pictures

How did a tiny community based, ethical business in West Oxfordshire:  community-buying.jpg

create processional effects of such power that one little girl in Sri Lanka:


has been given the gift of freedom for Christmas?

This is a heartwarming Christmas story, that has an extraordinary ending, and it was made possible because of these two fledgling social ventures:

Ana reinvintage

Reinvintage – run by Ana Bonasera – that makes amazingly clever bespoke gifts by upcycling unwanted household items and creating something of beauty, giving them a new purpose, and:

Ems little cake stop

Em’s Little Cake Stop – run by Emma Admans – that makes home-made style gluten, dairy free cakes and pastries with a unique and fresh angle.

Young people helping young people: they decided a Christmas sale in aid of charity would be a great way to showcase their products. They chose a charity a friend and supporter, Jo Rockwood, is a patron of: Child Vision Sri Lanka. Why? They believed that young people over here could help very young people over there.

The day of the sale arrived and with it some interesting on-street marketing, with reports of local radio warning of a “scene to beware of” probably exaggerated:

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Then look who came along to help too:


It was a resounding success. Emma’s amazing goodies like this Christmas Pudding – both gluten-free and vegetarian – went down a storm:


and Ana’s bespoke creations were snapped up for funky unusual Christmas gifts:

2013-11-06 21.19.43 Anas tea cup candles

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And the result was? Well both stalls made a profit on the day, gained lots of new customers and lots of people had fun, all whilst they raised over £270 for the charity.

This is where I have to go back to the beginning. We are extraordinarily proud that both of these businesses grew out of CBL. The philosophy by which both is run was influenced, in many ways, by our own philosophy – true sustainability.

Sustainability: everything we do at CBL has a positive social and environmental impact – it has to or we don’t do it. Everyone that comes and works with us both understands this and usually brings fresh new ideas. Often this results in projects being created that we never intended. Both Ana and Emma are living proof of this. Imagine how proud we are of this. When the sale was planned we found out that if they raised £500 then one child living with something like Cerebral Palsy, who had never walked, would receive a wheelchair. We are delighted that we promised to pay for half a wheelchair IF the sale matched the £250. What a result – we made our contribution with the excitement that a young life would be transformed.

Extraordinary ending – I said this story had one. The guys that run the charity in Sri Lanka have been so overwhelmed that young people so far away could go to such lengths to help them, that it has built their belief that they can do anything. With five hundred British pounds in their hands they went back to the wheelchair suppliers and negotiated a new deal. The result is that they have been able to have unused wheelchairs adapted for a new purpose and this money will not just give one child the gift of freedom for Christmas, but, we could hardly believe our eyes when we saw the communication telling us, twelve! I literally gulp emotionally as I write this when I think of this scene playing out twelve times – the gift of freedom:


Did I say ending? This surely is just the beginning for so many young lives and clearly for so much more. At CBL we are all very proud of what our two proteges have achieved to make a difference in the world.

And finally…if you would like to know more about Child Vision Sri Lanka, offer to go over and volunteer for two weeks or make a donation then please contact Jo: joanna@asiateakgroup.com. If you would like to buy a Christmas Pudding or a unique Reinvintage gift in time for Christmas then there is still time, but please move quickly and email me now! chris@community-buying.com, we love ours: