Bangladesh Artisans

Volunteering at Ten Thousand Villages St Denis MontrealVolunteering 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. 

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.

Ten Thousand Villages Finger PuppetsGiven that our holiday campaign tagline is ’Tis the Reason, we thought it might be fun to ask a few of our younger shoppers to answer a question:

“What is the reason you like to shop at Ten Thousand Villages?”

We received a number of really great responses, and here are some of our favourites:

“Camels.” (boy, age 5) – He felt that all nativities should have camels, and Ten Thousand Villages is the place to find them!

festive1Decorating my home in holiday style is one of my favourite things to do this time of year! I love adding lights, sparkle and fun festive accessories to change up the look of my home.

I thought it would be fun to try two completely different styles on my mantel this year, to see which one best suits my style. I like both of these options quite a lot, so I’d love to hear from you which one is your favourite!

cheeky-monkeyWeekday mornings at my house can be quite crazy! One of the most common discussions (and, might I say, whining?) surrounds the topic of what my children will eat for breakfast.

The dilemma isn’t what we have in the house to eat. Quite the contrary! The problem is deciding what they would like to select from the multiple options available to them.

8600465534_0cdaf87863_z (3)As part of the “What I Want My Daughter to Know” series, I’m sharing on behalf of Ten Thousand Villages today – and thrilled for the opportunity to share my heart on what I want my daughter to know about fair trade.

Child, these days we’re doing our best to teach you to play with others. You’re pretty good for your twenty-six months of experience, but playtime is often a losing battle when combining multiple two-year-olds and a room full of toys. Regardless of what you already have in your hand, it always seems that what your friend has is what you want. There are howls and tears and pinching and chaos when the situation seems unfair. Even we adults can be so embarrassingly loud, pitching fits when we feel that life isn’t fair to us.

“The most fulfilling thing about working in fair trade? Definitely the amazing trading relationships Sasha has developed,” says Roopa Mehta, CEO of Sasha Exports.

“Sasha’s partnerships with workshops – and with our trading partners around the world, like Ten Thousand Villages – all make me so pleased. Every single one of these groups has overcome challenges to get where they are today.

“Fair trade is growing, and I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life.”Roopa Mehta from Sasha Exports

Tis_the_reasonNovember is here! And as anyone who has ever worked in retail knows, this is the week that kick-starts the holiday season into high gear. Exciting? Absolutely! Our stores and warehouse are brimming with unique gifts we can’t wait to share with you.

But here’s something else new we’re excited to reveal: Our ’Tis the Reason campaign.

All year, we’ve worked hard to understand what current and new customers truly want from Ten Thousand Villages. You spoke, we listened – and we have created a campaign that not only excites and motivates, but also incorporates our longstanding values that remain strong and true.

Lombok Pottery 1Turning greyish indigenous clay into rich red-brown and black pottery is no easy task. Yet the 214 women potters, who make up Lombok Pottery Center’s collection of four cooperatives, are experts at creating beautiful and useful objects from the ground up.

Ten Thousand Villages is now pleased to carry several pieces of their versatile pottery, handcrafted using traditional methods and designed with contemporary North American tastes in mind.