WorldCrafts uplifts impoverished artisans

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP)--Raima, a hearing-impaired craftsperson in Mauritius, is part of an artisan group, CraftAid, that provides jobs for people with disabilities. Through her artisan group, she met her husband Tana who also is hearing-impaired. Raima and Tana, who now have a son, provide for their family by making unique handcrafted cards sold through WorldCrafts, a nonprofit ministry of Woman's Missionary Union.

Raima and Tana, through CraftAid's ties to WMU's WorldCrafts, have learned that deafness does not handicap their hope on the island nation off the coast of East Africa.

While World Fair Trade Day, May 10, takes place on the second Saturday of May each year, WorldCrafts celebrates the importance of fair trade and transforming impoverished lives every day.

For 12 years, WorldCrafts (on the Web at www.WorldCraftsVillage.com) has sought out underserved artisans in Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and the Far East to offer a North American market for their crafts while also providing an opportunity to hear the Gospel.

Each piece distributed by WorldCrafts is created by hand, never factory produced or rushed to meet quotas. And the crafts guilds and leaders associated with WorldCrafts abide by Fair Trade Federation guidelines that specify fair wages and humane voluntary working conditions for the artisans.

"The fact that WorldCrafts is a fair trade company adds value to our products and provides stability and sustainable income for our artisans," WorldCrafts director Andrea Mullins said.

WorldCrafts commits to pay artisans a fair price that covers not only their costs, but also ensures sustainable production, Mullins said. Many times, WorldCrafts provides a partial advance on payments to the artisans, enabling them to hire more co-workers and purchase raw materials needed for their handicrafts.

"We are committed to our artisans for the long term to maintain certain levels of product orders, investing in product development for long-term planning, as well as sustainable production practices," Mullins added. "WorldCrafts encourages artisans to set prices that allow them to invest in the growth of their business. These standards guarantee impoverished families hope for a better life."

WorldCrafts items have been sold at church and community events and home parties across North America. Purchases of these handmade items transform the lives of the overseas artisans and their families -- and often entire communities -– by providing a source of income for housing, education and nutrition and by imparting a sense of dignity.


Lynn Groom is a writer based in Birmingham, Ala. For more information about WorldCrafts, visit www.WorldCraftsVillage.com.

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