Ten Thousand Villages comes to Abbotsford

The store will be set up for five days at Emmanuel Mennonite Church.

Sacred Mark producers talk with each other as they take turns stiring soap. It can take four hours till the mixture reaches the right consistency.

Sacred Mark producers talk with each other as they take turns stiring soap. It can take four hours till the mixture reaches the right consistency.

The Ten Thousand Villages Christmas store returns to Abbotsford for its annual visit.

The store will be open at Emmanuel Mennonite Church (3471 Clearbrook Rd.) from Dec. 4 to 8, offering fair-trade items crafted by artisans in Third World countries.

Ten Thousand Villages is a non-profit program of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), and funds go back to the craftspeople to help pay for food, education, health care and housing.

The store sells products from more than 30 countries, providing work for nearly 60,000 people around the world.

In Bangladesh, Ten Thousand Villages works with Pobitra, an MCC job training program for former sex workers.

To be part of Pobitra, women must commit to leave sex work. In exchange, they are given a basic salary and a year-long training program that gives them personal and job skills to support their families.

Graduates make soap for Sacred Mark (an MCC job creation program) or help develop other products to sell.

Angelika Dawson, who volunteers at the church sale, loves the philosophy of Ten Thousand Villages.

“It’s not just a hand-out, it’s a hand up,” she says. “It’s showing people respect, giving them back their dignity. Not only that, but they are creating great stuff!”

Store hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Dec. 4, 6 and 8; and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Dec. 5 and 7.

For more information, visit tenthousandvillages.ca.