While on vacation in Washington D.C., I mentioned to my sister that I wanted to visit a downtown that had an eclectic feel. To me this meant great food, boutiques, vendors and well, you know the things you usually find at a downtown special event. This is how I think a trip downtown should always be, vibrant and stimulating to the senses. If not, why even bother to take the time to drive the extra miles to get there? My sister gets me and so when she told me that we were traveling to downtown Charlottesville, which is approximately one and one-half hours from her home, I found myself looking forward to the excursion. Did I mention that this was a nana/granddaughter trip? Yes, I was traveling with my 21 year-old granddaughter. This was our first trip together and hopefully not our last which makes our trip and this particular story very relevant.
The Downtown area was everything I expected and more. To read more about the trip go back to the home page www.ealonmagazine.com but for now read on.
As we walked the Downtown my eye was drawn to a storefront that fit my definition of eclectic. I was lured in and as I admired the many items in the store, I soon learned there was more to this quaint shop than just hundreds of beautiful items for sale.
I introduced myself to the sales associate and asked if I could take some photos for my website of some of the items that were on sale. She said of course but as the conversation continued she told me the story of Ten-Thousand Villages. A story so powerful that it would be wrong for me not to share it with you. I hope that you will share it with others.
“HELP A WOMAN EARN HER OWN INCOME AND SHE WILL NEVER BE HELD DOWN AGAIN” – IRANI SEN
TEN THOUSAND VILLAGES is a non-profit whose mission statement is “to create opportunities for artisans in developing countries to earn income by bringing their products and stories to our markets through long-term, fair trading relationships”.
Artisan Partners include Africa, South and East Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean.
While traveling with her husband in Puerto Rico, Edna Byler met single women who were struggling to keep their families fed. The year was 1946. Struck by the beauty, and the quality of the materials these women were using, she brought back with her some of their products and began to sell them from the trunk of her car. Supported by the Mennonite Central Committee, an aid and relief agency, Byler was able to travel abroad and to bring more of these artisan’s beautiful creations home with her. She traveled the country and told others the stories of these women and explained how their support would enable these women to not only support their families, but would also uplift their communities.
Ten Thousand Villages was launched and is now a Global Fair Trade Movement. The movement empowers women, forbids Child Labor, promotes environmental responsibility, safe working conditions, sustainable and inclusive long term relationships and gender equality. Artisans are paid 50% up front and the remaining 50% upon shipping.
I was genuinely moved by the Ten Thousand Villages Story. What an unexpected surprise. Perhaps many of you already know about the great things this non-profit is doing. If so, please share and if this is as new to you as it is to me please share this story with others. To learn more visit www.tenthousandvillages.com.