“Ten Thousand Villages” is hosting its 17th annual handmade craft sale between Nov. 17 and 18; the event will be held at Wilmot United Church, 473 King St., Fredericton.
According to organizer Jill Bateman, Ten Thousand Villages is a non-profit organization that works with more than 100 artisan groups in 30 countries across the world.
The organization creates opportunities for artisans in developing countries, who would otherwise be unemployed or underemployed, to earn a fair wage by bringing their products to North American markets.
“Every year we get a lot of new products, so it’s very fun unpacking on Thursday night to see what’s new. There’s a huge variety of products too—from Christmas items to toys, cookbooks, kitchen items, baskets…There is something for everyone, basically.”
Fourteen years ago, Bateman saw a poster about the event when she was moving to Fredericton from Alberta. She recognized the organization’s name and decided to become a volunteer.
“I called to see if they needed volunteers and by the [following] year I was helping run [the event],” Bateman said. This year, she is working alongside 40 other volunteers from the Fredericton area. “We get the same volunteers year after year, so it’s almost like a reunion seeing all of these people again.”
Bateman has a passion for African baskets, so every year she adds a new one to her collection.
She likes to share the stories behind each item sold at the event. “That’s something people like to do: buy an item and then ask if we have the information about how it was made and by whom,” she said.
Bateman also makes sure to inform the customers that the artisans have been paid in full. “Ten Thousand Villages does a 50 per cent down-payment to the artisan group [that made] the item and then before it leaves the country, [the payment is completed]. That way when you buy the product, you know [the artisan] has been paid a fair wage for what they have made,” she said.
She encourages everyone to pop in to the two-day event at some point, so they can take advantage of the diverse and intricate items. “This is a wonderful way to support people across the world, but also have something nice to [give away]. I would say, take a break from your studies and come on over. It’s a lovely atmosphere.”