Bangladesh Artisans

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and we couldn’t be more excited to spend time with our families and eat all the yummy food. And if it’s your turn to host a Thanksgiving dinner this year, why not set the table with beautiful, globally responsible, handcrafted pieces from around the world? With every Ten Thousand Villages purchase, makers are paid fairly for their work which helps them to take care of their families. This Thanksgiving, set the table for your family with items that help families all over the world.

The Appetizers

cutting board

As guests are arriving to your Thanksgiving dinner, greet them with a charcuterie board filled with various delicious appetizers. HGTV suggests using a “larger tray to create a big cheese board for some pre-dinner snacking.”

The Centerpiece

centerpiece

An assortment of apples, pumpkins or gourds makes for an easy Thanksgiving themed centerpiece for your dinner table. Best Products says “tiny pumpkins are without a doubt, the perfect place setting for your Thanksgiving table. If a trip to the pumpkin patch isn’t in the cards for you this year, faux pumpkins (that you can reuse year after year!) will do in a pinch.” Just place them in a bowl or basket, and voilà, you’re done!

centerpiece

The Main Course

dishes

Now it’s time to serve the turkey and all the delicious side dishes! HGTV says that a “matching serving dish set is perfect for your turkey and smaller side dishes.”  

The Dessert

cake stand

Skip the pumpkin pie this year and try something different for dessert! Jillian Harris says that a “cake stand is the perfect way to showcase your baking skills when you have guests over.” She suggests stacking one with “cupcakes, delicious pastries or an indulgent cake.”

Do you have any Thanksgiving table decorating tips? Let us know how you decorate your table for Thanksgiving in the comments below!

Giving Change

We are not your typical retailer. We are a non-profit, social enterprise following the basic principles of fair trade. One of the key principles of fair trade is micro-financing.

In many of the communities that we work with, banking services are scarce and interest rates are excessively high. These financial barriers prevent maker groups from taking out loans to purchase materials they need to make their products. In an effort to reduce these financial blocks for makers and their families, we pay 50% of our invoice when we submit an order. We then pay the remaining 50% when we receive confirmation that the products have shipped. At times, this means that we could pay for products that we won’t actually sell for 6-12 months. However, this process relieves the financial burden for makers and their families, giving them the freedom to purchase materials they need to create their products, and in turn, allowing them to continue earning a fair wage for their work.

“I am sincerely grateful toward Ten Thousand Villages Canada. The orders they send us allow us to provide for ourselves.”

Ahmed

UPAP

Niger

With all that being said, we are proud and excited to introduce Giving Change. We developed the Giving Change program so we could continue to offer this interest-free micro-financing program to the groups we work with. Your donations will support our efforts to bridge the monetary gap between production and sale, and empower makers around the world, like Ahmed, through micro-financing.

Thank you for supporting our Giving Change program, our mission and our commitment to socially conscious retail. We believe that all people deserve to earn a fair and stable income – and we couldn’t do it without the support of our valued customers.

To make a contribution to Giving Change, please visit our website.

Happy first day of fall! Here at Ten Thousand Villages, we’re a little sad that summer days are over but we’re excited for all the fall things that autumn brings like pumpkin spice lattes, sweater weather and scary movies. With Thanksgiving dinners and Halloween parties approaching, fall is also a great time to refresh your home! Here are some tips for giving your home a cozy, fall makeover.

Baskets

baskets

Baskets are great because not only do they add a rustic, fall touch to your living room but they double as storage space too. Elle Décor suggests warming up a room with “cozy accessories such as pillow-and-throw-filled baskets.”

Rugs

rugs

Keep your feet warm on hardwood floors and add a decorative touch to your kitchen or family room with a rug. House and Home says that a standout rug is like “artwork for your floor.” They believe that a standout rug “pulls the room together, interjecting life and personality into the space.”

Throws

chair with throw

Add warmth and decoration to your living room or bedroom with a fringe throw, blanket or quilt. Country Living encourages homeowners to “find throws with different textures and colours for a bit of visual variety.”

Plants

chair with plant

This fall, trade colourful summer flowers in for a statement plant. House and Home says a statement plant “creates major impact – especially when potted in a standout planter.”

Candles

candle

Candles are an easy way to add those fall vibes to your home. Shutterfly says that candles give homes “rustic charm.” For Halloween, add pumpkins and pinecones to your candle display.

Do you have any fall decorating tips? Let us know how you decorate your home for fall in the comments below!

Jewellery-making has been an important tradition of the Tuareg nomads for centuries. In 1993, a group of young people in Terhazer, a village near Agadez, the largest city of northern Niger, began crafting leather products and silver jewellery by hand. After travelling through France and selling their handicrafts from backpacks for several years, Illies Mouhmoud and his friends began The Union of Peasants (UPAP) in 1999 to help artisans and rural people.

camels

Today, UPAP is an organization of 170 skilled Tuareg silver jewellers and leatherworkers. The Tuareg people inhabit the Saharan regions of North Africa, such as Niger, Mali, Libya, Algeria and Burkina Faso. Dressed in blue robes, they sit beneath airy tents in the desert and create breathtaking pieces of art using a lost-wax method with the same simple tools and techniques of their ancestors. Sometimes, Tuareg people are called the “blue people” because their traditional coloured clothing stains their skin. Tuareg artisans use income from craft production to supplement their subsistence farming. This income has enabled villages to build and equip schools, pay for medicine, ensure safer births and build wells. 

artisans

Illies Mouhmoud is a master silver artisan in crafting traditional Tuareg jewelry. Using a lost-wax method to cast the silver, Mouhmoud first creates a wax mold, forms clay around the mold and then pours molten silver into the hardened clay. Using hand tools, he etches traditional designs and adds ebony inlay or jewels to create the finished piece.

jewellery

Traditionally, the etchings represented safe trade routes. Similar to a map, the open spaces represented a ‘no go’ zone while the etchings were the routes. Today, the traditional techniques are used for artistic purposes and every piece of Tuareg jewellery is believed to bring good luck.

artisan

Thankful for their customers, Mouhmoud said, “Your purchases have helped us stay in our homes, to stay where we live, where we were born and where our parents and grandparents were born.” Visit our website to browse our entire collection of beautiful Tuareg jewellery.

The World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO)

Did you know that there are 10 principles essential to fair trade? According to the The World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), “the 10 Principles of Fair Trade specify the ways that Fair Trade Enterprises are set up and behave to ensure they put people and the planet first.” At Ten Thousand Villages, we are trying to make the world a better place. Here are the ten principles that help us do just that:

Creating opportunities for economically disadvantaged producers

We create opportunities for makers in developing countries to earn income by bringing their products and stories to our markets through long-term, fair trading relationships.

Transparency and accountability

We always deal fairly and respectfully with our trading partners, and we strive to remain transparent with our customers. Check out this blog post for a behind the scenes look.

Capacity building

By providing consistent orders, the makers we work with can establish independence.

Promoting Fair Trade

Whether it’s in one of our stores or online, we are eager to provide customers with the stories behind our products.

Payment of a fair price

Every purchase improves the lives of makers and their families by supporting their craft and providing a fair, stable income.

Gender equity

We work with maker groups all over the world that empower women. Visit this blog post to learn more about some of the amazing women we work with, and the groups that are working towards women’s equality on a daily basis.

Working conditions

The makers we work with benefit from working in a safe and healthy environment.

Child labour

Fair Trade Organizations respect the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The environment

Many of the organizations we work with use environmentally-friendly production materials and methods. Check out this blog post to learn more about one of these groups.

Trade relations

Every design at Ten Thousand Villages is handcrafted by makers we have known and worked with for years.

When you make a purchase from Ten Thousand Villages, you become part of something more than just retail; you are part of the solution to creating a FAIR world. Visit this blog post to learn about how your purchase makes a difference.

On August 26, 1920, women were finally given the right to vote in the United States. In Canada, women were given the right to vote in 1921. Today, women’s equality is still about that, but it also encompasses even more aspects. To start, it’s about providing women all over the world with equal opportunities to education and employment, and eliminating discrimination, stereotypes and violence against women.

Since the beginning, Ten Thousand Villages has been empowering women. In 1946, our founder, Edna Ruth Byler, a Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) worker, visited volunteers in Puerto Rico who were teaching sewing classes to help improve the lives of women living in poverty. When she came back to North America, she filled her car with embroidery pieces she had purchased from these women at a fair price and sold them at churches, parties and sewing circles. The concept of fair trade – and Ten Thousand Villages – was born.

Edna Ruth Byler

We are proud to work with maker groups all over the world that empower women. This year, to celebrate Women’s Equality Day 2019, we want to highlight a few of the groups we work with that are working towards women’s equality on a daily basis.

St. Mary’s Mahila Shikshan

Alpa

500 women in India work with St. Mary’s creating embroidery designs using locally produced thread and hand-loomed cotton. These female makers have access to medical care, savings plans, sewing education, cooking classes and scholarships for their children. Each year, the organization celebrates women’s equality.

Alpa Mistri does embroidery for St. Mary’s. She is 38 years old and has been working with the organization for two years. When asked about the impact St. Mary’s has had on her life, she said, “Working in this organization has given me an identity. As a single mother, I can stand on my own two feet and look after my children without the support of a husband. I am working towards giving my children an education. I want my daughter to become a computer engineer.”

Corr – The Jute Works

Sonia

Corr – The Jute Works markets handmade items, primarily jute and terracotta products, created by Bangladeshi women regardless of caste, religion or race. They work with 4,000 makers and focus on job training, literacy and health issues, developing leadership skills and generating awareness of women’s rights.

Sonia Begum crafts terracotta pots with Corr – The Jute Works. She is 24 years old and has been working with the organization for one year. When asked what the biggest change has been since working with Corr – The Jute Works, she said, “I am getting a fair wage for my work. I am independent and my voice is heard. Because of fair trade, rural women in Bangladesh have rights. I feel empowered.”

Sapia

Magdaly

Sapia works with 80 makers in Colombia creating beautiful products with unique materials like orange peel, tagua and corn husk.

Magdaly Figeroa Rincón is one of the satellite shop leaders working at Sapia. She is 38 years old and has been working with Sapia for five years. She makes all kinds of pieces of jewellery and orange peel dolls. When asked how her life has changed since working with Sapia, she said, “Fair trade allows me to be independent and generate my own income. I can work from home and still dedicate time to my family. I can improve my family’s standard of living and I can also support other women by bringing them work.”

Saidpur Enterprises

Fatema

Saidpur Enterprises provides work for women in Bangladesh. In addition to a fair wage, makers are given microloans, financial advice, literacy classes and training sessions in women’s legal rights, business and nutrition. Each year, the organization celebrates women’s equality.

Fatema SL sews bags at Saidpur Enterprises. She is 50 years old and has been working with the organization since 1991. When asked how her life has changed since working with Saidpur Enterprises, she said, “Before Saidpur Enterprises, my husband did not make enough to provide for the family and there were many days where we did not eat. Since working here, I have been able to provide food for our children and send them to school. I also have been able to buy a piece of land to build a house. I get paid regularly and work in an environment with no discrimination.”

When you buy a product from Ten Thousand Villages, your purchase helps empower women around the world. Your purchase:

  1. Provides women with equal opportunities to employment
  2. Gives women a voice and the ability to be independent
  3. Gives girls access to education
  4. Helps reduce discrimination against women

Thank you for supporting women’s equality.

Here at Ten Thousand Villages Canada, we believe that all people deserve the chance to earn a fair and stable income. Our mission is to help the world discover beautiful things that do beautiful things. We strive to offer stunning, globally responsible lifestyle products that create opportunities for makers in developing countries to earn an income, in turn, improving their quality of life. When you make a purchase from Ten Thousand Villages, you become part of something more than just retail; you are part of the solution to creating a FAIR world.

Here are seven important ways your purchase makes a difference.  

Your purchase puts food on the table

“Before fair trade, I was entirely dependent on my husband’s income to bear family expenses. Being a van puller, he didn’t earn much and always struggled to provide the basic needs for our family. My kids and I would often go hungry due to lack of food. I often had to borrow food and money from my neighbors to feed my kids. Every day was a constant battle with hunger for me and my kids. Thanks to fair trade, I was able to work for a fair wage, which helped with family expenses. In a way, fair trade has saved my family’s life.”

Rina Dewri

Prokritee

Bangladesh

Your purchase provides a warm, safe home

“Thanks to fair trade, I have a stable salary. I was able to save enough money to build a house.”

Luong Thi Huong

Mai Viet Handicrafts

Vietnam

Your purchase sends children to school

“Being able to send my kids to school has been the biggest change for me since I started working in fair trade. I am very proud of them because they have managed to succeed in their academic lives and are heading towards a brighter future. My son has recently completed a dental technology course, and now, he is doing an internship in Dhaka. My daughter is taking a nursing course in a medical college.” 

Rina Dewri

Prokritee

Bangladesh

Your purchase keeps families healthy

“Fair trade has provided me with regular work and has helped educate my children. Fair trade has also provided me with additional benefits like free health check-ups, life insurance and medical insurance.”

Mr. Kuyum

Asha Handicrafts

India

Your purchase empowers women

“Fair trade allows me to be independent and generate my own income. I can work from home and still dedicate time to my family. I can improve my family’s standard of living and also support other women by bringing them work.”

Magdaly Figeroa Rincón

Sapia

Colombia

Your purchase fights poverty

“Before fair trade, I was going through a really bad time with my family. My husband was really sick and I took out a lot of loans, all of which made my life miserable. There was no money left in the family, so I couldn’t send my kids to school, let alone provide them the minimum basic needs. With fair trade, I was able to provide the basic needs for my kids and send them to school. I was also able to see a better doctor to treat my husband’s sickness. He is doing fine now and has a shop in the local market.”

Ms. Joyanti Halder

Prokritee

Bangladesh

Your purchase supports fair trade

“Working for a fair trade organization has had a positive impact on my life. I receive a fair wage, regular employment opportunities and benefits. I don’t have to rely on anyone for my personal expenses. I am able to provide for my family. I feel empowered and liberated.”

Shanti Maharjan

Association of Craft Producers

Nepal

Every purchase improves the lives of makers and their families by supporting their craft and providing a fair, stable income. Thank you for making a difference.

It’s no secret that the commercial tanning process for leather is hazardous. Not only is leather tanned with compounds that are harmful to the environment, but this chemical process is also damaging to the health of the people working in the leather production industry.

Yellow purse

Many of our bags, purses and wallets are handcrafted using eco-leather by makers working with the Craft Resource Centre (CRC). CRC is a fair trade resource and marketing centre in India that tans their leather products without using harmful chemicals. In other words, instead of using azo dyes, formaldehyde and other harmful substances, eco-leather is tanned using environmentally-friendly materials derived from sustainable tea bark extracts and waxes.

Indro at Ten Thousand Villages store

Indro Dasgupta is the director of CRC and we were fortunate to spend time with him this past spring. During his visit with us, he outlined the eco-leather process. He explained that since the government in India has banned the use of cow in the production of leather, CRC eco-leather products are made with water buffalo. The water buffalo are first used for milk and meat, and then the skin, which would typically be considered waste, is sold to CRC for the production of leather. In other words, no animals are killed for the purpose of making leather. CRC is simply upcycling the waste produced by other industries.

Leather hide drying

Indro also explained that after the raw hide is collected, it is tanned with eco-friendly materials on a drumming machine and then it’s set out to dry. Once the leather is dry, it is then waxed, shined and sprayed. Finally, the leather is assembled into beautiful purses, wallets and bags.

Mallika

Mallika Manjari De is a quality checker and packer working with CRC. She is 28 years old and has been working with CRC for almost two years. When asked about how her life has changed since working with CRC, she said, “Life was difficult. I found it difficult to make ends meet. Now, I am able to buy necessities for my home.”

Brown purse

Eco-leather is more than a fashion choice; it’s a way to better the environment and improve the lives of people like Mallika. Browse our handcrafted eco-leather collection online.

Necklace and earrings

Thankfully, most Canadians have never experienced war. In Cambodia, however, people are still healing from the destruction of the past. Years after the Vietnam War and the Pol Pot genocide, Cambodia’s countryside is still littered with bomb and artillery shell casings. Reminders of war are everywhere, and healing is an ongoing process. As a way to heal from the past, the makers of Rajana Association use these reminders of tragedy and transform them into beautiful pieces of jewellery that are wearable symbols of hope, peace and strength.

Sovann

Van Sovann is one of the jewellery makers working at Rajana. He is 38 years old and has been working with Rajana for 20 years. When asked what he wants to share with Canadians, he said, “Thank you very much for your support. When you buy our products, it provides me with the ability to take care of my family.”

Van Sovann

Rajana Association

According to Sovann, it takes six people to craft one piece of jewellery and depending on how complicated the design is, three to four pieces of jewellery can be made in one day. First, the recycled brass casings are sourced and collected from a village nearby. Next, using an acetylene torch, the casings are cut and assembled into earrings, bracelets and necklaces. Then, symbols of hope and peace, such as doves, are engraved into the metal by hand. Finally, each piece is polished and shined. Sovann enjoys welding and assembling the pieces of jewellery.

Each piece of jewellery is a symbol of hope, peace and strength. By transforming symbols of war into symbols of beauty, Cambodians like Sovann are supporting their families, healing from the past and looking forward to the future.

Browse our handcrafted bombshell jewellery collection online and wear these symbols of strength wherever you go.

Blue rug

Handcrafted by makers working with Kumbeshwar Technical School (KTS), KTS rugs are the perfect addition to your living room, family room or bedroom. Traditionally, these rugs were made with the intention of sitting and sleeping on them, but the rugs are now made with the purpose of adding warmth and decoration to a room.

Leaf rug

Each rug takes five people to craft and is made from hand spun Tibetan sheep wool.  First, one person hand spins the sheep wool into yarn. Second, using environmentally friendly dyes, one person hand dyes the yarn. Then, one person winds the yarn before another person weaves the rug. Finally, the process ends with one person trimming. In one day, one individual can finish 0.138 square metres of the rug. Four out of five of these tasks are usually done by women.

Woman making a rug

The Kumbeshwar Technical School (KTS) offers training in wool spinning, hand knitting and carpet weaving to members of low-caste communities in Nepal. Graduates of the training program have the opportunity to move into employment at KTS or to establish their own workshops. KTS embraces environmentally friendly practices such as the use of AZO-friendly dyes for carpets. In addition to the technical school, KTS operates an orphanage for abandoned children, a nursery, a primary school for children from impoverished families and a workplace daycare. Other benefits include literacy classes, training in writing and basic numeracy, women’s health education, health and accident insurance and access to loans.

Sita B K is one of the carpet weavers working at KTS. She is 48 years old and has been working with KTS for 14 years.

“I have experienced a lot of changes since joining KTS. I have become independent and can send my children to the KTS primary school. I would like to thank you all for buying our products.”

Sita B K

Kumbeshwar Technical School (KTS)

Add a touch of warmth and decoration to your home with one of these beautiful, handcrafted rugs.