Sharing Their Stories
One of the main missions of the Ten Thousand Villages stores is to connect our customers with the artisans who create our amazing products. There is always a face – and most likely more than one – behind each item carried in our stores and it’s important to us that we share their stories.
Ten Thousand Villages establishes relationships with artisans cooperatives from all over the world in order to ensure that all items sold in our stores are fair trade. Golden Palm Crafts is just such a cooperative in Sri Lanka.
Golden Palm Crafts exports handmade wooden objects to fair trade organizations throughout the world. Golden Palm’s principal objective is to create job options for people in the rural areas of Sri Lanka, where employment opportunities are rare. With its main office in Colombo, Golden Palm’s woodworking and painting workshops are found in a number of rural villages. Most artisans are the sole income earners for their families.
In light of recent safety recalls of Chinese-made toys, fair trade artisan groups have an opportunity to tell their story, said Ravi Jayawardena . Golden Palm, a Ten Thousand Villages trading partner, primarily produces children’s toys, mostly from painted wood.
“This is a time for fair traders to explain to customers that our products not only conform to safety standards, but also to ISO 9001:2000,” he explained. Developed by the International Standards Organization in Switzerland, ISO 9001:2000 is a quality management system. “An organization following the ISO systems needs to maintain required minimum standards in order to qualify for that certification,” said Jayawardena. Golden Palm is also governed by the International Toy Safety Regulations, EN 17.
Golden Palm ensures that all paint used is non-toxic and lead-free according to safety requirements. The paint manufacturer is required to submit test reports of the product. The company also ensures that toys pass safety tests such as drop tests, pull test and choking prevention.
“Furthermore,” he added, “our products are made according to fair trade principles, and the producers are receiving many benefits.” Golden Palm artisans receive payment above minimum wage; they also receive insurance, workers’ compensation, pension contributions and assistance with school fees. Fair wages enable families to improve their standard of living. Special training and encouragement is given to women to take leadership. Profits from the business are reinvested in new machinery, tools, and training, to improve working conditions and to create more jobs.
Ten Thousand Villages and Golden Palm have been partners in fair trade since 1985.