Whether ambling down humid, steamy southern streets of Ho Chi Minh City, or resting at home with family, tea is an important part of everyday life and culture in Vietnam.
In the northern part of the country, people tend to drink their tea hot out of tiny cups, while in the south, tea often comes iced in large, frosty glasses to beat the heat.
It’s no wonder then that Ten Thousand Villages turns to Mai Vietnamese Handicraft,an organization that provides employment and training to disadvantaged families and ethnic minorities in Southern Vietnam, to create many of our beautiful mugs and teapots.
In the fall of 2014, I had the privilege of sitting down with Tanu Dey, CEO of Dhaka Handicrafts. Tanu was visiting our office from Bangladesh – and many of her stories came flooding back into mind recently as we were planning to feature baskets, since Dhaka Handicrafts is one of our biggest suppliers of hand-woven baskets. Tanu shared story after story about the incredible impact fair trade is making on the 1,300 individual artisans working with her organization.
One story in particular stood out to me during our conversation, and it has stuck with me ever since:
Volunteering for Ten Thousand Villages is a family affair for Anita Lunden. Not only did her mother volunteer in sales years ago, but so did her daughter back when she was at university. When Anita moved to Edmonton, she grabbed the chance to volunteer four or eight hours a week too.
Giving her dedication and time just makes sense for the business and technology consultant who eventually joined the board of the Ten Thousand Villages store in Edmonton.
“Volunteers are not paid – not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless.” – Author Unknown
When National Volunteer Week rolls around every year, we take the opportunity to stop and think about how important hundreds of volunteers are to Ten Thousand Villages and its mission.
It’s no secret there’s extreme poverty in Bangladesh. And although, according to The World Bank, the number of the country’s poor has decreased by 26 percent in recent years, here’s the harsh reality: there are still approximately 47 million poverty-stricken men, women and children in Bangladesh today.
Women in particular face massive societal and socioeconomic challenges in trying to make a better life for themselves and their children. Because school and well-paying jobs are often unavailable to girls and women, some turn to the sex trade to survive.
But now there’s hope.