In early spring I found out that I would not be receiving a huge project I’ve gotten every summer for the last eight years. When I contemplated the loss of income, I decided it might be time to take a summer job, at least if we wanted to eat.
My original pursuit was a seasonal job opportunity. I almost never have speaking engagements in the summer and we don’t travel in the summer because I am allergic to the sun and can’t handle the heat. So a summer job wouldn’t interfere too much with my passion or my life.
One day I checked Craigslist, and there was a listing for a part-time job at Ten Thousand Villages. It wasn’t a summer job. But the opportunity to work there was too tempting. It couldn’t hurt to apply.
Why was it tempting? Because Ten Thousand Villages is likely the original fair trade store, started from the trunk of a car in 1946. It’s one of the largest fair trade organizations in the world, supplying fair trade products through more than 390 outlets. The Ephrata store where I applied for a part-time job is the flagship store.
The mission of Ten Thousand Villages “is to create opportunities for artisans in developing countries to earn income by bringing their products and stories to our markets through long-term fair trading relationships.” Ten Thousand Villages establishes long-term relationships with artisan groups in 38 countries. Artisans are given the money to purchase supplies and then paid in full for the items when they are delivered. Even when Ten Thousand Villages puts an item on clearance, the artisans have already been paid the full fair wage for the product.
I met with the manager and her assistant. I shared my passion for fair trade and programs that help the poor earn an income that can support their families. I also explained my speaking ministry and how it would start up again in the fall. They graciously agreed to work with me so I could have the dates I will need off.
And so I am officially employed at Ten Thousand Villages in Ephrata. I get to hear the stories of the artisans whose lives are changed and handle the beautifully crafted pieces. My current favorite are the throws and pillows pictured above that are handcrafted from recycled saris. All of the artisans in this Indian co-op are women who have been rescued from sex trafficking.
If you’re ever in the Ephrata area, come in to visit. I may be there.
If not, you can still shop Ten Thousand Villages online and change a life, not for a summer, but for a lifetime.