Bangladesh Artisans

BODYofBLOG-world-s-children-wall-hanging2I’m reading an incredibly moving book – one that has inspired me many times to stop and think about how fortunate we are to live in a country with strong infrastructure and social safety nets.

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.

One of the themes that shines through is the desire of disenfranchised Haitians to be part of the reconstruction, and to have a voice in reimagining a stronger Haiti. But for this better future to come to fruition, Haitians need meaningful work and stable jobs – something that has remained elusive for a vast proportion of the population. According to the CIA’s World Factbook, unemployment was estimated at 40% in 2010, and more than two-thirds of the labour force don’t have formal jobs.

In Haiti, Ten Thousand Villages partners with Comité Artisanal Haïtien, which helps Haitians rebuild their lives in the midst of bleak economic circumstances by enabling rural craftspeople to earn a living from their skills.

While reading about the devastation in Haiti, I’ve also been reminded of Typhoon Haiyan, which crippled the Philippines in November 2013. While the artisans we work with were affected by the storm through its horrendous impact on their country as a whole – and more directly on loved ones, friends and acquaintances – they reported escaping relatively unscathed. It will take years for the country to rebuild. And in the meantime, Ten Thousand Villages is pleased to be able to continue providing orders to our many artisan partners in the Philippines.

When I think about situations like the internal challenges endemic to Haiti that were exacerbated by the 2010 earthquake, and the destructive typhoon in the Philippines, I am especially proud to work at Ten Thousand Villages. We are committed to building long-term, sustainable, mutually beneficial business relationships with marginalized artisans in these and other developing countries.

These partnerships are the foundation of better lives for thousands of artisans around the world. In placing orders, and in bringing these products to the North American market – unique, handcrafted items that otherwise would likely never make their way into our homes and lives – Ten Thousand Villages plays a role in the long-term stability and security of our artisan partners in places like Haiti and the Philippines.

We don’t give handouts. Instead, we establish real trading partnerships that allow talented people to make better lives for themselves and their families.

Through these efforts, Ten Thousand Villages staff, volunteers and customers have the privilege of being part of every artisan’s dream: The opportunity to earn a living by doing meaningful work.


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