ENFIELD: The Harvester’s Ministry and Corridor Community is making a difference in the lives of artisans around the world by selling exquisite, handcrafted gifts and home décor.

This year, Ten Thousand Villages is celebrating 20 years in Enfield. Anita Hamilton has been a part of every single one, organizing the annual event.

“The Festival has been in the Corridor for 20 years. Its a festival because it’s not just a sale, but a musical celebration of the season with local artists that gathers the community together. Many people tell us it starts their Christmas season, said Hamilton. “Our Festival features artisan goods and farmers’ products; giftware, toys and clothing, organic spices, olive oil, coffee, cocoa and tea are a sampling of the items available. It relies on over 120 volunteer hours to make it happen. We are always looking for more helpers for the festival.

“Some people have volunteered for every one of the 20 years! One of these people is Reta Sweeney. Reta helps unpack the goods that arrive from the Ten Thousand Villages Atlantic warehouse in Petitcodiac. She is a key making this shift run smoothly.”

The event, to be held at Enfield Volunteer Fire Department Hall, offers an opportunity for citizens of Enfield, to make a difference by shopping fair trade. Shoppers will also learn more about skilled artisans in Africa, Asia and Latin America. In its 20th year the sale will showcase a beautiful assortment of musical instruments, pottery, jewellery, baskets, toys, crèches and hand loomed textiles.

It was sudden and it was brutal. At only seven years old, Saphia, a young girl living in the village of Garalia, Bangladesh, became crippled by polio just days after losing her mother. Her father, mistakenly believing her paralysis was caused by black magic, spent the precious little money he had on a local healer to cure her. He even sold some of his much-needed land to pay for a cure than never materialized. Forced into heavy labour to feed his family, he too soon died.

Saphia, now disabled, was left to care for two younger brothers. It’s a story that could have ended in ruin. But for Saphia, she has had anything but a sad ending. With her own ingenuity – and with support from CORR–The Jute Works (CJW), she has gone on to thrive.

CJW launched in 1973, originally aimed at helping war widows and marginalized rural women. The organization, which started in a garage and with five artisans, now invests in improving market access for its producers, and exports products around the world to fair trade retailers such as Ten Thousand Villages. Today, CJW works with over 3,000 artisans, most of them women.

Although Saphia’s local group leaders were hesitant to hire her because of her disability, she soon won them over. Saphia worked hard and quickly picked up skills. Eventually she became a prized artisan, known for her quality jute pieces. But her life truly took a positive turn when she used her own savings and took out a CJW microloan to buy a calf. She sold the milk, and when the calf grew and had a calf of its own, she sold the older cow, repaid all of her debts and bought land. A tidy mud and tin-roof house came later, and she even sent one of her brothers to school.

Today the memories of hard struggle are dimming. Saphia is helping to raise her brother’s children, and has ensured they’ve been immunized against six deadly diseases. Last year, when Saphia received the prestigious 2015 Shilu Abed Crafts Award, offered by the National Crafts Council of Bangladesh, she was thrilled. “I am grateful for the award,” she said. “It’s an honour to be recognized for something that lies at the core of my heart.”

Ten Thousand Villages works with artisans who would otherwise be unemployed, or underemployed. We create opportunities for artisans in developing countries to earn an income by bringing their products and stories to our markets in North America.

This income helps pay for food, education, health care, and housing. Ten Thousand Villages works with over 120 different artisan groups from more than 30 countries across the globe.

“By holding this sale, we’re giving customers in Enfield, NS a chance to buy unique products while helping people in developing countries to meet basic needs for themselves and

their family. Together we are making a difference,” says Anita Hamilton, sale organizer.

Saphia would be happy to announce that the The Harvester’s Ministry and Corridor Communityis hosting a Ten Thousand Villages Festival Sale at Enfield Volunteer Fire Department Hall, on Friday, Nov. 18 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 19 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m..

All proceeds of the sale support artisans partnered with Ten Thousand Villages, the oldest and largest Fair Trade Organization in North America, (more than 60 years). The sale owes its success to dedicated local volunteers.

For more information on the Enfield sale contact Anita Hamilton at 902-222-3895.