On a cool, bright Sunday morning, an elderly man with salt and pepper hair and a jovial manner walked into our store. He was looking for a gift for a friend. While he didn’t have a specific idea in mind, he mentioned that his daughter had suggested that he check out Ten Thousand Villages. And so, that morning he was there to pick up a unique handcrafted gift for a special loved one.
As we were going through the shelves of delicate lotus-shaped tea light holders, his eyes fixed on a metal wall hanging gently perched on the wall in front of us. Flanked on one side by Andean wool wall art reminiscent of a radiant autumn day, and by cheerful needlework butterflies fluttering about in a summer garden on the other, was a serene metallic tree of life that captivated our friendly visitor in a tranquil sense of peace.
Catching the glint in his eye and the ghost of a smile playing on his face, I knew his choice had been made.
As I started to ring up his purchase at the cash counter, he asked me to shed some light on the birth of the product. I began narrating the story of how an old discarded 50-gallon steel oil drum, on its way to a landfill in Haiti, was rescued to be cut into this beautiful piece of art through a technique called “fer de coupe” or “iron cutting.” While assuring the Haitian artisans a reliable livelihood in a nation riddled with natural and man-made disasters, this was an immaculate example of a sustainable cradle-to-cradle approach to consumption.
Afterwards, he told me that he had himself volunteered in Haiti shortly after the 2010 earthquake, and has been returning for short visits ever since. The visibly happy and optimistic customer then noted that Haiti has been a story of hope and survival, and that he believes “we can all do better for the people and the planet.” I could not agree more.
Reflecting on this optimistic encounter as I write this on another bright Sunday morning, I am deeply grateful for the stories that were shared that day and the bonds that were forged.
So, next time you are visiting Ten Thousand Villages, I urge you to learn more about the faces and stories behind these creations, the workings of fair trade, the creation of a sustainable system, and how your actions change the world – one transaction at a time!
|Cute Garden Turtle||Butterfly Beauty Wall Hanging||Tree & Birds Wall Hanging|