April 13, 2011

Local retailer helping artisans in developing countries

[Newport Television]

At first glance, Ten Thousand Villages may appear to be a typical home and craft store, but the stories behind each item are far from typical, like jewelry made in Cambodia from bomb casings.

“These are people who really want to work, they're willing to do anything, educate their children,” said volunteer Chuck Lawrence. “They'll make something out of nothing and we are the outlet where they can take these products and hopefully sell them.”

Ten Thousand Villages is a part of the Mennonite Central Committee and works to create fair wage partnerships with artisans. The store is primarily run by volunteers, like Lawrence, “There are people who are knowledgeable and can tell you the story of everything in here.”

One of those people is Joan Harman, she's been a volunteer since the Cumberland County Store was still in the planning stages. “I think the most invigorating things are the people who come into the store,” Harman said.

While the store primarily features items from 3rd world countries, there's also some American products. “We're not a charity,” said Harman. “We're a business that supports people who have a hard time getting into the market on their location.”

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