Our Story

About Us

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Rahul and Kinnari founded Ethical Existence in an effort to give sustainable support primarily to social enterprises, Not For Profit (NFP) and Fair trade organisations. Read more

The LDWDC

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The Laos Disabled Women’s Development Centre is a not for profit organisation, run by women with disabilities, for women with disabilities and their families. Read more

Craft Link

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Craft Link is a Vietnamese not for profit fair trade organisation which supports traditional craft producers by providing a distribution channel, teaching business skills and ensuring a safe work environment. Read more

Smile House

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Smile House opened in January 2010 and now provides employment and support to people with a disability who make handicrafts such as lanterns, embroidery, and bags. Read more

Sri Aurobindo

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Started in 1940 with the guiding philosophy “In works, aspiration towards Perfection is true spirituality.” on a very small scale, paper was made from waste material for creative and useful work. Read more

Kouna Sisters

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The ‘Kouna Sisters’ have brought to life the unique and dying craft of Kouna. Irenbam Surbala and Renubala Devi are two industrious artisans from Manipur who have earned a name for their artistic production of decorative and household items made from Kouna. Read more

Full Stories

About Us – Sampan

Ethical Existence, that’s what we strive for

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Rahul and Kinnari Kumar

Rahul and Kinnari founded Ethical Existence in an effort to give sustainable support primarily to social enterprises, Not For Profit (NFP) and Fair trade organisations.

Ethical Existence, based in foothills of Dandenong ranges in Melbourne South East, will provide cost effective yet efficient services in areas of Business process improvement, Organisation restructuring and benchmarking Procurement practices.

Sampan is our online store trading in Ethical, Eco-friendly and Exclusive products.

Karen Gifford and family

Sampan was originally setup by Karen Gifford in 2011, who has a passion for South East Asia through extensive travel and supporting charities in Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia.

Whenever she travelled she was touched by the resilience and determination of people whose lives have been torn apart by war and re-built with great humility. Even today Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia are littered with unexploded ordnance and it is a regular occurrence for limbs or lives to be lost.

We share Karen’s passion for people and their hand crafted products. Our endeavour is to further enhance the support for disadvantaged artisans with Fair Trade practices.

For Ethical Existence services please Contact us


The Laos Disabled Women’s Development Centre

(Recycled Paper Products)

The LDWDC is a not for profit organisation, run by women with disabilities, for women with disabilities and their families.

Khanthaly
Khanthaly

Disabled women are among the most vulnerable groups in Laos. The combined factors of gender and disability often leads to difficulty accessing education and gaining employment.
LDWDC provides vocational and life skills training, in sewing, weaving, recycled paper products, as well as english, social development and small business management enabling disabled women to return to their villages and earn a living.

Khanthaly was born into a farmer family in 1989 in Sekong Province. She was born with a disability in both her legs and her parents passed away when she was young. In 2007 she came to LWDC to study paper making and graduated after 9 months.

Since 2008 Khantaly has been an employee of LDWDC. She earns a modest living, makes her own life choices and is able to send money home to her family.

 

Girl in wheelchair sewing.LDWDC group photo.Girl in wheelchair playing drum.LDWDC logo.

 


Craft Link

Craftlink (Coconut Bowls & Tape Measures)

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Craft Link is a Vietnamese not for profit fair trade organisation which supports traditional craft producers by providing a distribution channel, teaching business skills and ensuring a safe work environment.

It is their vision that ‘One day all the artisans in Vietnam will earn a fair wage and have a happy life’.

They give preference to producers who are marginalised or disadvantaged, such as ethnic minority people in remote areas, street children, and people with disabilities.

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Currently Craft Link is supporting 63 artisan groups throughout Vietnam, in which:

  • 45% are ethnic minorities
  • 25% are disadvantaged groups
  • 30% are traditional villages

 

Craftlink logo.


Smile House

Smile House ( Silk Lanterns)

Father of Smile House working with bamboo.

The idea of setting up Smile House occurred nine years ago to Trinh Xuan Vinh, head of the Hoi An Association for Disabled Youth, who himself has a disability. It took Vinh and four other members five years to raise the VND50 million (US$2,400) that was needed.

Smile House opened in January 2010 and now provides employment and support to people with a disability who make handicrafts such as lanterns, embroidery, and bags. Many of its members, who were often rejected by other employers, say their souls have been reborn after coming to Smile House, where they are loved by everybody.

Dan Thi Buu Tram spent most of her life isolated at home, as she suffers from cerebal palsy which affects her co-ordination and severely limited her ability to travel. Tram first learnt to walk when she was six years old but even then was unable to attend school so she never learnt to read or write. Tram has now found her niche at Smile House where she works crafting traditional silk lanterns. She travels to work every day with her new pump action bicycle.

Smile House group photo with bicycles.Smile House bamboo drying.Lit up coloured silk lanterns.


Sri Aurobundo

Started in 1940 with the guiding philosophy “In works, aspiration towards Perfection is true spirituality.” on a very small scale, paper was made from waste material for creative and useful work.

The main objective of the establishment is to grow as a small scale production centre for handmade paper and paper-products besides engaging local artisans & workers.

The organization is managed by a group of highly dedicated 20 volunteers and 32 paid workers and artisans.

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All paper is made from waste materials from the cotton hosiery industry and agricultural wastes like straw, bagasse, rice husks, jute-gunny, wool, tea leaves, banana stems, bamboo etc., thereby protecting our trees and support minimization of environment pollution.

The process involves beating and turning the raw material into pulp before being poured to make one sheet at a time.

sriEach sheet is hand lifted  and dried in natural sea breeze. Once dried and smoothened the paper is then crafted and marbled for making bags and other products.

They re-cycle all wastes by either reprocessing by-products (paper cutting wastes) or by converting into re-usable stationery.

We call it the ‘non-paper gift bags‘.


The Kouna Sisters

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Locally known as Kouna, this species of Water Reed is a unique eco- friendly plant that grows in the swamps of Manipur.

The ‘Kouna Sisters’ have brought to life the unique and dying craft of Kouna. Irenbam Surbala and Renubala Devi are two industrious artisans from Manipur who have earned a name for their artistic production of decorative and household items made from Kouna.

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All the members of the family are well specialized in the making and production of Kouna products. Their elder brother, Somen had earned recognitions for his contributions in the field and was a National Awardee felicitated by Ministry of Textile Industries in 1999. The untimely demise of Somen in 2009 brought the responsibility of running the family business on the shoulders of these two brave and hardworking sisters.

Although their business is presently small and a family-led one with financial constraints, they have more than 30 artisans working in their work-shed producing a wide array of items like jewelry boxes, stools, bags and mats. The revival and global recognition of this ancestral art through mainstream exposure has been the dream of the two sisters. The average monthly income of the artisan’s families is about AUD 200. There are no alternative sources of income except for small community shops.

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They live in Konjengbam Leikai, Imphal as a joint family with their mother, sister-in-law and her little son.

Shop their water reed items.

 

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