Freedom Center and Ten Thousand Villages launch museum store partnership

CINCINNATI – The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center’s mission to champion freedom extends into its museum store with a new partnership with Ten Thousand Villages. The new partnership brings fair trade items into the Freedom Center while celebrating the craft, talent and culture of its artisans and supporting them financially.

The Freedom Center has long admired Ten Thousand Villages and has partnered with the organization on fundraisers in the past. Now, guests can shop their products directly at the Freedom Center and, in turn, make an investment in artisans around the world, becoming part of their story.

“Our work at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is to create advocates and champions of freedom, and our museum store is not excluded from that work,” says Woodrow Keown, Jr., president and COO of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. “We champion those who provide products that are ethically sourced and manufactured by workers making a fair wage so they can have agency over their own lives.”

Ten Thousand Villages has been committed to their mission of fair trade to the Queen City for almost 20 years. They aim to end the cycle of generational poverty by creating meaningful, long-term employment for artisans around the world. Fair trade helps prevent child labor and sweatshop labor and promotes opportunities for women and disabled artists who are typically outcasts in their society.

While Ten Thousand Villages provides products from more than 130 artisans in 38 countries around the world, those in the Freedom Center museum store will largely, but not exclusively, be the handiwork of artisans from Africa. Each piece has a story to tell and brighter future yet to be written.

Baskets from Uganda feature intricate patterns and spiral designs that are achieved by threading raffia palm around banana fibers, a skill passed down through generations. Many of the weavers are single mothers, widows or young people living with disabilities. The wages earned from weaving are used to build safe homes for their families, as well as for food and education for their children.

A single piece of soapstone is hand-carved with a machete and wet-sanded until smooth by artisans in Kenya. The natural color of the soapstone varies from cream to copper to pink but is often dyed bright colors and etched. The beautiful decorative pieces are created by a cooperative in southwestern Kenya that provides fair wages to artisans who often have difficulty finding outlets for their work.

Products created from recycle sari fabric helps provide legitimate income to survivors of sex trafficking and former red light district workers in Bangladesh. These products, which can range from potholders and coasters to decorative flowers and butterflies, also keeps tons of fabric out of landfills.

Ten Thousand Villages products are available in the Freedom Center’s museum store now.

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