Claudia at Mockingbird Hill Cottage for lots of other Favorite Things this weekend!
Ten Thousand Villages is a non-profit organization that sells really unique handmade
gifts, jewelry, art, sculpture, and many other items from artisans in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. They are one of the world's
largest fair trade organizations and a founding member of the World Fair
Trade Organization (WFTO).
Their website explains that "fair trade provides under- and unemployed artisans with an opportunity
to earn vital income and improve their quality of life by establishing a
sustainable market for their handcrafted products."
I visited the Ten Thousand Villages shop in Princeton, New Jersey with my daughter back in August. I love the idea that these artisans are paid for their work in advance, and the shop is filled with beautiful and unusual items at unexpectedly reasonable prices.
I like elephant statuettes (with their trunks raised for good luck!), and my daughter bought me one carved from onyx by an artisan from Pakistan. Stories about the artisans, the materials they use, and the regions from where they come are all over the store and on the Ten Thousand Villages website.
Ten Thousand Villages was founded over 60 years ago by Edna Ruth Byler, and her story can be found here, along with information about individual artisans and the countries they represent.
I love to have the opportunity to support handcrafters trying to eke out a living in some of the poorest nations in the world, but I can't help but wonder whether something similar would work for impoverished Americans as well. It used to be a dream of mine to run a gift shop that sold handcrafted items made by everyday people, especially moms, to help feed their families and pay their bills. Could there be a Ten Thousand Kitchen Tables in the future? I guess you never know!