There have been a number of studies and articles floating around in the media lately, claiming that there are some major shortcomings in fair trade certification systems. Ten Thousand Villages welcomes this discussion, as we’re always looking for ways to improve the impact of our work.
When people ask me about the impact Ten Thousand Villages has on producers, lots of answers come to mind. But I believe it’s the artisans themselves who should have the final word regarding whether or not our work is making a difference.
There are lots of heartwarming examples, but I’ll share two that stand out in my mind:
In Canada, we take for granted every child’s right to a good education. Wherever we live, we expect our kids to get grounded in the basics they’ll need to thrive as adults, and to provide the tools they need if they choose to go on to post-secondary education.
Through my experience meeting some of Ten Thousand Villages’ talented artisan partners, I have been exposed to regions of the world where “education for all” is anything but the norm. One situation that comes immediately to mind is Nepal, where boys are much more likely than girls to have the opportunity to attend school.
Making ethical choices can be difficult. There are so many causes that call out to us – causes like the environment, animal rights, and those who are living in poverty, to name a few. It can be overwhelming to care about everything that needs our attention, and that can sometimes cause us to throw up our hands and not do anything. That was me, before I came to realize Fair Trade provided an opportunity to have my spending make a positive difference in the world.
Most children are taught the more obvious ways to help our world: turning off the tap when brushing their teeth and turning the lights off when they leave a room. Coming to understand what Fair Trade is all about, however, has changed my understanding of how people can make a difference.
The book, entitled Haiti After the Earthquake, charts Haiti’s history, the events surrounding the quake itself, the aftermath, and most importantly, the dream of a rebuilt Haiti.
But with Mother’s Day approaching, it always gives me pause to think about how I am doing as a Mom. Are my boys happy? How healthy are they? They look clean, but where’s that smell coming from? Do they laugh enough? Am I teaching them what it means to be socially responsible people? Are they learning the importance of generosity? Are they compassionate?