A Tale of Two Villages
Melissa Hand, buyer for Ten Thousand Villages (left photo), along with Garden Spot Village residents (from left) Gladys Ziengenfus, Hollace Tafeen, and Constance Kennedy (center photo), as well as volunteer Mickey Adams (right photo), and (not pictured) Violet Ickes are all excited about the connection they have made to provide designs for paper products to women working in Bangladesh.
By Ann Mead Ash
It may seem unlikely that residents of a New Holland personal care facility could influence the types of paper products made in rural villages in Bangladesh. The Mountain View craft group in Garden Spot Village (GSV), however, is doing just that.
The unusual enterprise began at the GSV fall festival when Deborah Fast, director of volunteer services and former buyer and creative director for Ten Thousand Villages, showed Melissa Hand, a current buyer for the retailer, cards that the group had made. The residents had crafted the cards under the direction of Mickey Adams, a volunteer who has taught the women the art of tea bag folding.
Hand was delighted with the cards produced by Constance Kennedy, Gladys Ziegenfus, Hollace Tafeen, and Violet Ickes. "When I saw the greeting cards, I thought they were beautiful, and I thought, 'I need to talk to these ladies,'" said Hand.
On Jan. 9, Hand was able to meet with the group at GSV to give them background on the women in Bangladesh who make paper products for the Ten Thousand Villages stores. She discussed with them the types of products that the group might create as models for the workshops there.
In a multimedia presentation, Hand explained that the shops she purchases products from are located in the southern part of Bangladesh. "(Bangladesh) is one of the poorest countries in the world," noted Hand, who has visited the shops personally. She stated that the area is especially beautiful, but that it is also prone to flooding.
Using photos of paper-making at one of the shops, Hand gave the residents and staff who had gathered for the presentation a basic idea of how paper is made. Hundreds of women work to soak the fibers, press out liquid by hand, and then dry the paper. Mennonite Central Committee has provided a machine that helps to press out liquid to make the process easier.
Because some of the products made in the shops have not been selling as well as they once did, Hand has been encouraging the workers to "think differently about paper." "I want to make sure their products stay relevant in the market," she said.
Fast agreed with Hand's assessment of the situation. "There's a constant need to adapt in retail, and the things they've made (in Bangladesh) for a long time aren't selling," she said.
The ideas that Adams has presented to the craft group were attractive to Hand. "(Adams) has a lot of background with paper art," explained Fast, gesturing to a table covered with paper items that Adams had made. Among the things Adams had brought to the presentation were boxes, gift bags, and gift card holders, all cleverly created using brightly colored papers in stripes, polka dots, and other attractive patterns and embellishments. With the help of Adams and craft group members, Hand hopes to encourage the women in Bangladesh to begin creating similar items.
Crafting paper products is not the only endeavor the craft group from Mountain View has undertaken in recent months. A line of homemade soaps sold in the GSV store are produced with the group's butterfly motif. Both goat's milk and olive oil soaps are available in a variety of scents, including eucalyptus mint, oatmeal and honey with apricot seed, and English lavender. An unscented olive oil soap with chamomile is available as well.
On Feb. 1, the crafters launched a Valentine line of soaps and lotions in the GSV store. "(The line) is exclusive to Mountain View," said Fast.
GSV is located at 433 S. Kinzer Ave., New Holland. Readers who would like to learn more about GSV may visit www.gardenspotvillage.org or call 355-6000.
New Holland Penny Saver - 01/30/2013