Merry Christmas to Africa … and beyond!


Mama would like to wish Christmas blessings to all of our friends celebrating this beautiful holiday from places like Egypt, Eritrea and Ethiopia to Russia. Armenia or Georgia!

Yes, I said Merry Christmas.  Many people in the West have no idea that after everyone has boxed up their decorations and put their Christmas trees on the curb; millions of people in Russia, Greece and East Africa are celebrating Christmas.

Technically, the two churches both celebrate Christmas on December 25th; the difference is in the calendars they use.  When many switched to the Gregorian calendar, some parts of the world decided instead to keep the Julian calendar, which explains the 13 day difference between the commonly accepted December 25th date and January 7th.

So, for many Coptic and Eastern Orthodox Christians, today is Christmas day!  The day will be filled with incense burning in churches, big meals shared with family and friends, the exchange of gifts and lots of good cheer.

If you would like to tell us more about your Christmas traditions, we’d love to hear more in our comments section below.

Melkam Gena to those in Ethiopia, Rhus Be’al Ldetn Hadsh Ametn to our friends in Eritrea and to our Egypian friends: أجمل التهاني بمناسبة الميلاد و حلول السنة الجديدة

Again, Merry Christmas to all of you celebrating today, wherever you may be!



Mama’s After Thanksgiving Sale

Now that you’ve had your fill of turkey, watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and laughed at the dinner table with family and friends… its time to head over to Mama’s After-Thanksgiving sale.

It’s true, working through that list of gifts to buy can be stressful for a lot of people and it isn’t always easy to do it while living on a budget.  So, why not take a break from it all, sip some of our delicious Red Bush Tea and listen to your favorite music while browsing through the many items we have discounted (some up to 50%!)  You’ll get to avoid the crowds at the shopping mall AND you’ll be helping some great African women feed their families this holiday season.
Whether you’re getting gifts for Hanukkah, Christmas presents or putting a few things away for Kwanza… you can keep the true spirit of the holiday season because you’ll be giving gifts that give twice: Once to the person you offer them to, and again to the women who make them.  Hey wait, I almost forgot!  You’ll also be giving a built-in donation to our fabulous friends in Rwanda too!  Wow, 3 gifts in 1… who wouldn’t love that?!


A portion of all sales from November and December will go to assist our friends in Rwanda who are working to expand the number of women and families that they serve by adding over 500+ women to the already hundreds of women and orphans that they assist!  Although it was initially started to help genocide survivors (primarily women and children) to receive trauma counseling, job training and other forms of direct assistance; they now also help those with or (caring for those with) HIV-AIDS.  As you may know, women are most greatly affected in the HIV epidemic as they are the caretakers in a family.

Mbwira Ndumva is now working on completely renovating a small building so that they can offer additional job training, counseling and other services to those suffering from or caring for family members with HIV.


So, this holiday season, we respectfully ask that you remember those who really need you: the women of Rwanda.  You’ll be able to offer a great gift such as our African coffees, chocolates or a beautiful basket PLUS you’ll help a woman in need to provide a better life for herself and her family.  And let’s face it, there really is nothing that feels better than knowing you stepped up to help a woman who is working hard to help herself.  Mama is convinced that sustainable development like this job training program which will lead to more ethical trade in Africa is the only way to permanently alleviate poverty in Africa and to help African children have a better future.


Join us in saying “We love you.” through your order or donation.  We won’t end poverty this year; but we sure can work to alleviate it… one order at a time!


Our friends at Mbwira Ndumva thank you and so do I.




Rethinking the Season

The hustle and bustle of Christmas is in full swing.  Last minute shoppers are out in numbers… grumbling, complaining and grabbing whatever they can find on store shelves.  Anything, absolutely anything would please them more than working through their dreaded lists of who to buy for this year.  And frankly, who could blame them?  After all, it isn’t a very friendly scene out there sometimes.  That tends to happen when people are in a place they don’t want to be, and for all the wrong reasons.

I’m always left wondering “Why?”  Oh, and I don’t mean “Why do you wait until the last minute to shop?”  That question is too easily answered after all: procrastination 😉

The one thing which really grabs at me each year (and more and more as the years pass in fact) is: Why do people insist on offering gifts to people they have little contact with? I keep hearing phrases like “I have no idea what he likes!”  Or, “I know she is going to get us something; so I have to find something she might like.”

I can’t help but think to myself: If you don’t know someone well enough to know what they like, WHY on earth are you spending your time, energy and money offering them a gift.  Let’s face it: it isn’t as if the gift will be heartfelt or sincere.

Let me say it directly and succinctly: Obligation gifts are not what the season is about.  As difficult as it is to believe, (insert sarcasm here): you should never offer a gift to someone unless you mean it.  Sounds ridiculous when you say it like that probably; but its basic wisdom really.  I’d bet that any mother anywhere around would tell the same thing to her child.

Quite a number of years ago, I decided that no matter what others did, I would forge my own path.  OK, for those who might have known me as a child, this is probably no surprise.  *laugh*  But I have to say that where gifts are concerned, it is a freeing thing.

TThree wise menhis year, I offered gifts to some of my neighbors; but not to others.  I didn’t overextend my budget to “make it even”.  I didn’t concern myself with who might be offering me a gift this year and who might not.  And I’ll tell you why: Christmas is for Jesus.  When that baby lie in the manger and those kings traveled hundreds and hundreds of miles to have a glimpse of Him, to pay homage to Him, to show Him how much they cared.  Our offering of gifts is a reminder of what those kings did for the baby Jesus.  They didn’t make that journey for just anyone, they made it for Him.  So, it seems counter-intuitive to me to insist on offering a gift to every person you have talked to this year, right?

I’ve got another little secret to divulge: I love Christmas!  I love the lights, the parties, the decorations, the carols… I love it all.  But I love it because I have found a renewed sense of what Christmas is.  But, part of the reason that I can love it is because I’m not stressed out by who spent how much on whom.  I offer my heart to those I care about.   But, isn’t that what we are supposed to do in life?

As the New Year starts, make a new habit.  I don’t mean a resolution that you’ll be vigilant about for two weeks only to forget by February.  I mean make a new habit, a lifestyle change of sorts.  When you are baking bread for your family, bake an extra loaf for a neighbor.  When you see that “little something” that you know your co-worker will enjoy, wrap it and give it to them… just because.  Mail a card to your grandma, (yes, a card… NO email!), to tell her how much you love her.  Do things for people when they least expect it.

I promise you that if you do create this habit, no one will be counting how many gifts you offered them at Christmas.  Because they will know that you have them in your heart all year.  Then you can enjoy next Hanukkah or Christmas like I do: stress free.  Instead of spending your time trekking around in the cold winter weather spending yourself into debt; invite those you would have bought gifts for over to share a great cup of coffee or something you baked with some fair trade chocolate.  Spend the time with them,  laugh together, relax together and just enjoy the season.

If someone does pop in with a little something for you at the last minute, just say “thank you” and mean it, sincerely.  But instead of feeling guilty and keeping count; use it as a reminder that you’ve kept your habit all year long and that you might have affected that person in a more profound way than you thought.

Now, go enjoy the season! And that, dear friends, is an order!