Store brings international items, culture to Wayne

Jewelry from India, onyx candle holders and clocks made in Pakistan, native instruments from Nepal and Bolivia, carvings of various figures fashioned from deep black Kenyan Kishii stone, cards crafted from handmade paper and dried flowers from the Philippines are just five minutes away at Global Gifts, right in the heart of Wayne.

Global Gifts is affiliated with the organization Ten Thousand Villages that has store franchises all over the United States and Canada.

It all began in 1946 when Edna Ruth Byler, a missionary with the Mennonite Central Committee, came back from Puerto Rico with embroidery made by some of the women she had worked with there. She sold it at home because the women had no livelihood nor market for their product.

The small number of goods from Puerto Rico grew into Ten Thousand Villages, which today sells merchandise from all around the world.

Some items appeal to Christians, each piece reflecting that country’s culture.

A three-dimensional carving from Kenya depicts Noah and his family with an African appearance and animals native to Africa.

A Last Supper scene done by natives of Peru shows Jesus and the disciples with Peruvian clothing and mestizo faces.

All of the merchandise is handcrafted by artisans who would not otherwise be able to work or provide for themselves, and each item has a story behind it.

The handcrafted cards made in the Philippines were made when a Mennonite missionary in the Philippines saw that many of the women were living in poverty and were unemployed. She looked for things they could make that could be sold in America, and the idea of making cards with homemade paper and dried flowers was born. Now the cards are one of the most popular items in Global Gifts, according to the store owner, Rosemary Smith.

Ten Thousand Villages is a member of the International Fair Trade Association and the Fair Trade Federation.

Fair trade provides a market for people who would have a hard time selling their products in America and other countries, said Dr. Jack Bower, head of the Business Department at Eastern.

He sees that as the major benefit of Ten Thousand Villages. It creates a market for individual artisans and small organizations, a way for them to get their products overseas.

He also sees it as a justice issue because it helps those less fortunate, who are not in a position to improve their standing on their own.

“I got involved with Ten Thousand Villages because we have so much in this country, so much we take for granted,” Smith said. “I just wanted to do something to help others.”

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