Adina Neufeld with a necklace

Ten Thousand Villages helps poorest of the poor

Volunteering to co-ordinate the Ten Thousand Villages Craft Sale is a labour of love for long-time co-ordinator Adina Neufeld.

Volunteering to co-ordinate the Ten Thousand Villages Craft Sale is a labour of love for long-time co-ordinator Adina Neufeld.

“As a Christian I believe in clothing and feeding people who don’t have access to food, clothing and education,” says Adina Neufeld, long time co-ordinator of the Ten Thousand Villages craft sale coming up this week. “It’s all about fair trade. People first and product second.”

A Ten Thousand Villages gift is a gift that gives twice, Neufeld says. In purchasing the gift you help poor people in developing countries who don’t have the access to social programs that we enjoy and then you give the gift to someone you care about.

She says there are many popular items returning to the Ten Thousand Villages craft fair coming up at Cariboo Bethel Church this Thursday, Friday and Saturday, along with many new items.

“We have a big increase in inventory this year,” Neufeld says. “We have tons of jewellery and lots of games. Among the new games are finger puppets from Peru made of alpaca fibre.”

Some of the returning items include the capiz clam shell candle holders from Bangladesh, silk scarves, recycled glass candle holders, hand carved She Sham wood picture frames, boxes and flutes from India and the popular bracelets, earrings, trivets and placemats made of recycled magazines.

Among the new necklaces are some made in Ecuador out of polished and painted palm tree seeds. She says the palm trees shed their seeds four times a year.

There will also be some colourful new notebooks from Bangladesh with covers made of multi-coloured pieces of cloth and hand made paper inside. She says the books cost $30, a small price to pay to help put food on the table of a poor family in Bangladesh.

Ten Thousand Villages is a program of the Mennonite Central Committee, a relief, development and peace organization dedicated to helping the poorest of the poor in  35 developing countries around the world.

The organization buys from more than 130 artisan groups which provide work for more than 60,000 individual people.

About 70 per cent of the artisans are single mothers, and some groups seek to employ people with physical disabilities.

Neufeld says Ten Thousand Villages also seeks to establish businesses in rural communities where employment opportunities are limited.

Ten Thousand Villages follows purchasing guidelines as set out by the International Fair Trade Association. Among others these guidelines include trading with artisan groups that pay fair wages and demonstrate concern for their members’ welfare; provide consistent purchases, advances and prompt final payments to artisans; and protecting human rights by promoting social justice, sound environmental practices and economic security.

While most organizations and businesses buy products in order to make a profit for their shareholders Ten Thousand Villages purchases from artisans who need work, not from those who can do the work most efficiently and at the lowest cost.

Fair wages for each item purchased is based on the local economy in discussion with local people in the developing country.

Artisans usually receive 50 per cent of the payment when an order is placed to purchase raw materials and pay wages during production. Upon completion of the order, the remainder of the purchase price is paid to the artisan group.

Orders are paid for in full before they arrive in the Canadian warehouse.

On average the artisan receives 25 per cent of the retail price. Another 30 per cent is spent on the cost of shipping, warehousing, marketing and administration.

The cost of operating a Ten Thousand Villages store is about 40 per cent of the retail costs and the remaining five per cent is used to repay loans and ensure sufficient funds are available for growth.

Craft sales such as the one coming up this week are entirely run by volunteers.

The village is open in the Cariboo Bethel Church basement on Western Avenue Thursday, Nov. 22 from 3 to 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 23, from 3 to 8 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 24 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Stay for an ethnic Mennonite luncheon after your shopping trip.

To learn more about store locations and on line shopping visit the www.TenThousand Village.ca.

Neufeld quotes Menno Simons for whom the Mennonites get their name who wrote in 1539: “True evangelical faith cannot lie dormant. It clothes the naked, it feeds the hungry, it comforts the sorrowful, it shelters the destitute, it serves those that harm it, it binds up that which is wounded, it has become all things to all men.”

 

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