Bangladesh Artisans

whaAugust is the best month for working through a reading list. Sunlight continues to linger in the evening, but we’ve mostly left the sweltering weather of July behind us. With that in mind, we’ve made a short list of the books we’ve been burying our noses in lately. We’ve chosen these books because they offer an alternative perspective, or take place somewhere very different from Canada in 2016. Take a look at our picks! We hope you’ll be inspired.

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What looks like an egg, is as hard as rock, and has the superhuman ability to help save endangered elephants and rainforests?

Say hello to tagua, the seed of a palm tree found in South American tropical countries ranging from Ecuador to northwestern Brazil. Commonly known as ivory palms or tagua palms, these trees’ scientific name means, “plant ivory.”

Sacred Mark (8 of 57)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.

IMG_5222I recently returned from a trip to Pakistan, where I was to meet the artisans who work so skillfully on the rugs for Bunyaad that Ten Thousand Villages carries year-round in two of our stores: Winnipeg Plaza Drive, Manitoba and Oakville, Ontario. While there, we ate together, sat around the fire together, played Dutch Blitz, and listened to each other, with a whole lot of laughter sprinkled in!

Despite spotty electricity and gas for heat, people continued in their day-to-day activities – whether it was work or play, taking a shower, or cooking. It’s humbling to see a huge breakfast ready for you, when you realize the people making it had no gas to cook with that morning, and had to get up at 4:00 AM to start the cooking fires.

Rebecca-bananaYou know you’re in for a great conference when someone runs on stage dressed as a banana. And it’s even better when you get to model this banana costume yourself later that day!

From January 14 to 16, I, along with some Ten Thousand Villages colleagues, attended the Canadian Fair Trade Network 2015 conference. This year’s theme was ‘Engage,’ and the aforementioned banana costume was just one of many highlights from this annual event.

 

 

 

album12Back in early January, our social media and marketing team gathered together to make a call to Level Ground Trading, our fair trade coffee partner.

Located in Victoria, B.C., the company’s slogan is, “We shake the hands that pick the coffee,” but in reality, the organization does much more. Not only does it invest in communities in South America and Africa, coffee roasting guru and master taster, Josh Del Sol, creates tasty blends and roasts beans.

We wanted to pick his brain and find out all we could about the coffee we sell. It turns out there was plenty to learn. For example…