Bomb debris that once littered the Cambodian landscape, left behind after decades of war in and around the country, has been transformed into one-of-a-kind jewelry. Artisans from the Rajana Association of Cambodia repurpose casings and shells into rings, necklaces and earrings to support themselves and promote a message of peace, renewal and strength.
The jewelry is part of a unique selection of gift items being imported from around the world to Texas — a state that is about four times larger than Cambodia — through a fair trade partnership between artisans and Ten Thousand Villages. These unique adornments will be available for sale in Nacogdoches as part of Westminster Presbyterian Church’s Fair Trade International Market, hosted 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday, November 17, and 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, November 18
“This work affects my life by creating employment, giving job satisfaction and a wage that can help me support my family, send my children to school for education and provide good food to help my family have better heath, as well as feeling a part of the community,” said Heng, a Rajana craftsman who supports himself, his wife and three children with his art.
Fair Trade International Market shoppers will discover a diverse collection of jewelry, home décor, sculpture and accessories handmade in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Texas. Fair trade coffees, teas, chocolates and olive oil will also be sold at the event.
“Think twice before you buy anything… to make sure what you buy benefits somebody. So, you take a few seconds more when you go for your shopping and find the right product at the right place… That goes a long way,” said Irani Sen of Ten Thousand Villages partner Craft Resource Center (CRC). CRC provides assistance to a large number of artisan groups throughout India who design scarves, jewelry, décor and handbags.
Works sold in partnership with Ten Thousand Villages directly benefit tens of thousands of individuals in 30 developing countries. Product sales help pay for food, education, health care and housing by creating a source of sustainable income for artisans who would otherwise be unemployed or underemployed.
Ten Thousand Villages CEO Carl Lundblad was drawn to the organization because it addresses poverty by giving people the means to better control their futures.
“We are paying a fair value for products produced at a fair wage to help ensure people have fair living conditions” Lundblad said. “Yes, we are a nonprofit organization doing development work, but we are doing it in a way that is really focused on empowerment – we are facilitating a market that creates opportunities for individuals to earn their own income.”
The 2017 Fair Trade International Market includes items made by members of Westminster Presbyterian Church. Sales of these items will benefit local, regional and global mission work of the church. Followers of the event on the church’s Facebook page have requested that organizers set aside items like Charlotte Sanderson’s Claret Cranberry Sauce (“It’s the best ever…”). Church youth set aside time in July to craft ornaments that will also be available during the sale.
"This year’s sale is definitely going to be different," said organizer Terri Moehring. “We worked closely with Ten Thousand Villages to select items we think our neighbors will love to own and give this Christmas.”
Westminster Presbyterian Church members support a wide variety of projects and organizations in Nacogdoches. Community RX, Love In The Name of Christ, Brown Family Health Center, Nacogdoches County United Way, Women's Shelter of East Texas, Nacogdoches Project H.O.P.E., Christian Women's & Men's Job Corps and the Nacogdoches Senior Center are some of the groups supported by the work of church gifts and members.
Westminster Presbyterian Church is a designated Texas Historic Landmark that traces its roots to the first Protestant minister to preach on Texas soil. In 1836, Rev. Sumner Bacon organized a Presbyterian Sunday School in the Old Stone Fort. On November 30, 1930, Main Street Presbyterian Church was renamed Westminster Presbyterian Church, and construction was completed on our present day church on North Street.