Ten thousand villages to arrive

Published 9:34pm Saturday, October 16, 2010

On Thursday, Nov. 4 from 5 to 8 p.m. the Presbyterian Women are having a party in the Warren Room of Selma’s First Presbyterian Church to preview their 10,000 Villages Festival. On that evening distinctive gifts from 65 third world countries will be on display: hand-crafted pottery, jewelry, baskets, musical instruments and textiles.

And at the same time, home-baked goods, international teas and coffees will be offered for sale in the Breezeway Café adjacent to the Warren Room.

On Friday and Saturday, Nov. 5 and 6, the Festival will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., again offering for sale these distinctive gifts made by the people of third world countries. Lunch will be served in the Breezeway Café, offering Christie Cummings Chinese Chicken Salad, homemade desserts and pastries, coffee and tea.

Profits from the sale will be given to the Presbyterian Home for Children.

Again, what is Ten Thousand Villages?

It began in 1946 when Mennonite Central Committee volunteer Edna Ruth Byler and her husband Joe Byler visited the organization’s sewing project in Puerto Rico. Byler purchased some of the intricate embroidery pieces done by the local women and sold them at her home in Lancaster County, Penn.

The project was so successful she expanded her selection and traveled to area churches, showing sample and taking offers.

In the 1970s stores opened to sell handicrafts year round; currently these number almost 150 in the United States and Canada selling Ten Thousand Village products. International Gift Festivals and Sales held in churches, schools and other locations provide an additional venue. In the United States nearly 175 such sales benefit artisans as thousands of volunteers in both Canada and the United States work with Ten Thousand Villages in home communities.

The organization contracts directly with artisans and craftsman in third world Countries to buy and resell their wares at a fair market rate. Income from the sales provides a decent livelihood for the entrepreneurial artisans and the added thousands in their employ.

One of the outstanding gift shops of Ten Thousand Villages is located on the third floor of a Montreat, N.C. book store, and is familiar to many Presbyterian visitors

Among the artists providing crafts for the Presbyterian Festival sale, Carol Namayania transforms simple raffia and banana lead into beautiful and functional art for the home. Her exquisite baskets, traditionally used for gifts to friends and family, offer her an opportunity to earn a livelihood with dignity and to share her heritage with others.

Through Ten Thousand Villages she receives payment for her baskets artisan partner Uganda Crafts, located in Kampala, Uganda.

Betty Kinene, Uganda Crafts director, says “Ten Thousand Villages is doing a lot to improve the lives of many women in Uganda. When I look back over the years, I recall many women who came to Uganda Crafts with no hope for the future.”

Today, many women working with Uganda Crafts earn a fair income, allowing them to improve their housing, send their children to school and dream of a brighter future.

Purchases made at Ten Thousand Villages Festivals invest in dignity, sustainability, education and hope for artisans in Kampala, Uganda and in more than 30 other countries around the world.

Lauren Henry, president of the Presbyterian Church Woman, is chairing the Festival this year and she invites “all those interested in these fascinating items from around the world to attend, enjoy and perhaps get a head start on holiday shopping.

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