They’ve had a job for which they were underpaid or underappreciated. Well, picture that in a third world setting where people have few employment options. They work in dirty, unsafe conditions with unreasonable work hours and sometimes cannot protest or complain without fear of retribution or brutality. The recent fires in Bangladesh clothing factories have highlighted how the worst of these unfair practices can create deadly and tragic results.
Is there an alternative? Especially if people want to purchase special items from other cultures, such as clothing, chocolate, coffee or musical instruments like these beautiful handbells from Nepal? Yes, there is fair trade! And May 11th marks World Fair Trade Day, so it’s a good time to learn more about this important topic. You can check out the 10 principles of fair trade below.
One of my favorite fair trade stores was started by a Mennonite woman in the 1940’s named Edna Ruth Byler. She knew that if people in third world nations or village settings could do what they loved such as traditional arts and crafts and they were sold at fair prices, then these people could live with dignity and keep vibrant, safe communities alive. She named her project: “Self-Help Crafts Of The World”. Over 60 years later, the store is now called Ten Thousand Villages and has numerous physical locations as well as an online store for purchases.
What does Ten Thousand Villages sell? It has an amazing array of handcrafts, jewelry, coffees, teas, soaps and other items. And musical instruments. You can find rainsticks from Chile and colorful folded palm rattles made in India. They offer delicate tingsha bells and beautiful singing bowls in a variety of shapes and sizes. There are gourd rattles, kalimbas (pictured here) and drums from Africa, ocarinas and whistles from South America and an ever-changing array of products that have been purchased and certified fair trade. For most items, you can read the story behind the artisans as well as how and where each object was created.
This year on World Fair Trade Day, I’ll be at my local Ten Thousand Village store sharing the magic of singing bowls – how each one is different and unique and can be used to create beautiful sound as well as for healing purposes. If you can’t get to one of these stores, feel free to visit them online and consider purchasing some of the wonderful goods that they offer.
Purchasing “fair trade” makes a difference for the planet, not only in the lives of an artisan, but because it makes a statement. It’s great to know that we can vote with our dollars for a world that treats everyone with dignity and respect! And if you purchase an instrument “fair trade”, you’re contributing to world harmony – in more ways than one!
Resources And Links
World Fair Trade Organization
10 Principles of Fair Trade
Ten Thousand Villages – Home Page
Musical Instruments From Ten Thousand Villages