Meet The Colleagues

Joseph Tobiason

Joseph's Impact

The words "fair trade" get tossed around a lot, but I learned through my volunteer experience in Lima, Peru, that those words have the power to break the cycle of poverty and change lives. Working alongside women in the Bridge of Hope Fair Trade Organization opened my eyes to how good trade practices can lift entire communities out of abject poverty and into a life that is healthier and safer.

Over my year of service I built deep connections with an artisan community called El Mercurio in the town of Huancavelica. The group was begun by a woman named Jodi (pictured second from right- J Tobiason Photography). During my visit, I had the privilege of translating her story for a group of international visitors.

Women from Cooperative, Jodi 2nd from right, J Tobiason PhotographyShe shared that she was just a normal housewife who needed to find a way to make some extra money. She had some friends who had heard about this fair trade. They got in contact with the Red Uniendo Manos and their Fair Trade branch. With access to export tools, they started their group, named after the chemical that continued to contaminate their town. They began to produce small stuffed animals and their most well-known llamas. To hear Jodi talk about how this fair trade organization had changed her life showed me the incredible value of tools for poverty relief. Not only did this give her family some extra money so that her kids could go to school, but it changed the way her house worked. Her husband was no longer the only money-maker and thus he had to shift the way he looked at her. The family became more equitable and she had never felt so respected. Her transformation is something that can only be truly understood by looking at the smile on her face every time she talked about Fair Trade. Link back to blog on Joseph Whinney and Joe Tobiason.

Joseph's Service Bio

When Krista Colleague Joe Tobiason signed up to be a Presbyterian Church Young Adult Volunteer, he knew he would be working to empower local residents in Lima, Peru, but he didn't know he'd become an expert in dry latrines. Now on the ecological sanitation team of the Center for Urban Development, Joe helps Peruvians in poverty live sustainably and affordably by turning potential waste into fertilizer. He's also preparing to help the city host an international conference on ecological sanitation. 

Joe shares in his online journal: "The last few weeks, one general theme about Peru has begun to surface- juxtaposition. Everywhere I look there are two worlds that are running into each other at top speed...I knelt down to talk to a little girl who doesn't have a right hand, lives in a squatters' village in the middle of the desert and whose mother is gone all day at work and look up to see one of our trip checking his email on his blackberry. I am daily told how dangerous some other part of town is, but always greeted with the warmest of hospitality..." Connect to Joe's blog from


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Colleague Info

Young Adult Volunteers PC(USA)
South America

Developing Nations