I can't remember exactly when I became aware of The Ten Thousand Villages, which describes itself as "one of the world's largest fair trade organizations and a founding member of the International Fair Trade Association."
But in recent years I've bought several gifts at one or another of the organization's stores and have felt good about the fact that the people who produced whatever it was were fairly paid and treated well.
This past Sunday, Linda Zemke, the manager of the Ten Thousand Villages store in our area -- it's located at 7947 Santa Fe Drive in downtown old Overland Park -- spoke to an adult class at my church and described the work the international agency does and why Christians should care about it.
The history of Ten Thousands Villages is interesting, extending back to 1946 and marking the beginning of the global fair trade movement. The agency today is, in effect, a ministry of the Mennonite Central Committee, which does fabulous work all over the world.
Linda said that the agency pays the artisans who produce the products 50 percent up front, before the products are delivered, and 50 percent when they reach the port from which they will be shipped to the U.S. That allows the producers to buy the raw materials they need to produce the products and it doesn't require them to wait to receive the rest of their money until the products are sold by the stores.
She said that women make up about 75 or 80 percent of the workers who produce products sold at The Ten Thousands Villages.The Bible used by Jews and the one used by Christians emphasize the need to treat workers fairly and with dignity and the need to be honest in economic affairs. That's really what the fair trade movement seeks to do and why I think it's appropriate that communities of faith support its ideals.
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TRAVOLTA'S NOT BOLTING
If you have been fretting about whether actor John Travolta would leave Scientology, fret no more. This report says he's not disenchanted with it and will stay. And if you have been fretting about that, why?