The executive director of Global Village Gifts, Tami Jones, returned from a two-week trip to India where she visited the artisans whose products are sold in the store. She traveled with the wholesale group Matr Boomie to Jaipur, Aminabad, and the western side of Bosch, where Jones said she experienced all that the organization does first hand.
Matr Boomie employs about 20,000 artisans inside of India. The products they make are sold at fair-trade stores which return the entire profit to the artisans. This allows the artisans in poverty-stricken areas to start developing their communities.
The invitation to India came after the previous director met Manish Gupta, the founder and CEO of Matr Boomie, at the Federal Fair-Trade Conference last spring. Jones said the trip has brought a new light to the store.
“I have made a connection with the people behind the product and just being able to tell people about it is so fun,” Jones said. “I have already started putting out my pictures with the jewelry artisans next to the jewelry.”
Jones was accompanied by Rashmi and Devendra, two workers from the SETU office, a devision that links store owners to the artisans, of Martr Boomie that live in Jaipur; the SETU office creates a bridge between the suppliers and the artisans. The group was able to visit eight different artisan groups which work in a variety of environments; some work in an workshop and others out of their homes.
“It was really neat to be able to see these really rural places of work,” Jones said. “It was definitely off the beaten path. Our bus was even too big for their streets so we had to get out and walk many times.”
Jones said the best part about her trip was getting to see how Matr Boomie is not about the products, but about the people. Many of the workers in these rural areas cannot travel to the city to get the health care they need, which is where Jones said Matr Boomie steps in.
The organization has set up mobile eye clinics that go to rural villages where health care is not available.
“I saw how much this benefited the men who create our wooden puzzle boxes,” Jones said. “As they get older, their eyesight starts to deteriorate and it’s important for them to have good eyesight so they can continue their employment. With these clinics they can get that.”
Celeste NeVille, the volunteer coordinator at the shop, said she is excited for how this experience will shape the store.
“Tami came back with a pep in her step,” NeVille said. “I think seeing everything first hand really put things into perspective.”
More information on Matr Boomie can be found at http://matrboomie.com.