Monday, October 11, 2010

One way to help Africa and beyond: Ten Thousand Villages

Pretoria, South Africa---I have admitted it before: I have a Coffee addiction. So what could be more PERFECT than a wonderful coffee bean necklace from Ethiopia? While hearing my cousins talk about their experiences in Ethiopia, where they were assigned prior to South Africa, they told me how their daughter had participated in a jewelry sale. Out of procrastination, she had waited to produce her jewelry and the night before had run to the kitchen looking for odds and ends to make jewelry out of. Out of the cupboards came dried beans; lima beans, black eyed peas, whatnot. Before long, she had earrings for her friend’s table. Out of this came the coffee bean idea and it evolved into a buyer from the organization: “Ten Thousand Villages,” becoming interested in the designs. Later the word came, 1000 necklaces were ordered to be distributed and sold in the shops in the United States. This provided jobs for about 30 women!

I have been in several of the shops in the US and they have wonderful items from around the world. I know firsthand that buying from these shops provides more than a donation, it provides an economy. The selling of goods and a decent pay to provide for a family. That’s simply their desire.

The Mission statement of this organization is: Ten Thousand Villages provides vital, fair income to Third World people by marketing their handicrafts and telling their stories in North America. Ten Thousand Villages works with artisans who would otherwise be unemployed or underemployed. This income helps pay for food, education, health care and housing. Ten Thousand Villages is a nonprofit program of Mennonite Central Committee. Your fair trade purchase of handmade jewelry, home decor and gifts helps improve the lives of thousands of artisans in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.

To find a store near you, go to this site:

What can I say? Help Africa, buy a coffee bean necklace!

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