The name was inspired by a Mahatma Gandhi quote: "…India is not to be found in its few cities but in the 700,000 villages…we have hardly ever paused to inquire if these folks get sufficient to eat and clothe themselves with."
Since 1946 Ten Thousand Villages has supported the work of tens of thousands of artisans in over 30 countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.
A founding member of the International Fair Trade Association, they are part of a worldwide movement that is striving to improve the livelihood of people in developing countries through the expansion of fair trade.
Many of the items they have for sale work well for families with children. The World Children Wall Hanging (right) is handmade in Haiti, by the Comite Artisanal Haitien. Crafted from recycled 55 gallon metal drums, it is a bright reminder of how we are all connected as one planet and one people. A few more of our favorite items from Ten Thousand Villages, below.
The Geometric Shesham Wood puzzle reminds us of Tetris. Made by hand of sustainably harvested Shesham wood, this lovely puzzle is just $18.00.
The Musical Frog is handcarved by artisans at Mai Vietnamese Handicrafts, a program for street children in Ho Chi Minh City. He makes two distinct frog calls, and would be fun as a percussion instrument. $24.00.
Kite-making is a traditional Balinese craft. This butterfly kite is almost too beautiful to fly. In Bali, kites were traditionally flown over fields after harvest, when new planting begins, and are thought to discourage insects from eating the new plants. $38.00, handpainted.
Ten Thousand Villages is more than just toys and nursery items - they also carry lovely home furnishings and decor, and some really amazing hand-woven baskets. One of our favorite features of shopping here is being able to see photos of the artisans who made what we are buying - it really reminds us that thoughtful and compassionate choices are an important lesson to teach to our children.