Bangladesh Artisans

Level Ground Tea GardenMany people are unaware that a commitment to sustainability is built right into the World Fair Trade Organization’s 10 Principles of Fair Trade.

Principle #10, “Respect for the Environment,” includes the following thoughts:

Organizations which produce Fair Trade products maximize the use of raw materials from sustainably managed sources in their ranges, buying locally when possible. They use production technologies that seek to reduce energy consumption and where possible use renewable energy technologies that minimize greenhouse gas emissions. They seek to minimize the impact of their waste stream on the environment. Fair Trade agricultural commodity producers minimize their environmental impacts, by using organic or low pesticide use production methods wherever possible.

13 - NigerIn the pages of an atlas, the Sahara is a place of mystery and extremes. Nearly as large as Canada, the Sahara is vast, but it is not empty. Twelve nations and their peoples claim land within its borders. Centuries before the map of Africa was carved with today’s political boundaries, the Tuareg people ran trade routes and shepherded their livestock throughout the central and western portions of the Sahara.

The lifestyle of the nomadic Tuareg has shaped their customs, including the chief among them, their renowned skill in metal arts – born out of their transient existences. Inadan (metalsmiths) are responsible for creating beautiful jewellery pieces worn by Tuareg men and women. They are symbols of protection and mark rites of passage, in addition to being conveniently small and high-value assets for traders whose lives consist of a long series of journeys on camelback.

Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something.

VolunteersI’m Maria Lyons, manager of the Ten Thousand Villages store in Victoria, BC. I started volunteering at Ten Thousand Villages in Victoria eight years ago, and now proudly manage a dedicated team of wonderful staff and volunteers.

Ten Thousand Villages was started by a volunteer 68 years ago, and has grown because of the enormous support we continue to receive from volunteers. Since the organization’s inception, volunteers have played a vital role in allowing us to pursue our mission.

Our volunteers are drawn to us for many reasons: to gain high school credits; to learn new skills; to meet new people; to give back. Many of our volunteers come to us because they have travelled abroad and witnessed the challenges of life in developing countries. Ten Thousand Villages gives teenagers an opportunity to work alongside seniors, and empowers people with shared values to work together.

Botswana BasketYou know that moment when you are in complete awe of something? And as you embrace it, you think to yourself, “I wish *insert name* were here to witness this with me?”
I had that moment at the end of an amazing experience in Botswana in 2010. But instead of having to wish my mother was there with me, I could look to my side and see that she was just as captivated as I was.

I had somehow convinced my mother to travel with me to Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa for three weeks to volunteer at a nature reserve and a Girl Guide Youth Centre. Still amazed that she even got on the plane, she doesn’t stop talking about the experience.