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Selling rugs to support Pakistani artisans
Ten Thousand Villages, a local fair trade shop run by the Mennonite Central Committee, holds its annual Oriental Rug Event from Oct. 5-20.
All of the hand-knotted rugs for sale have been purchased from Bunyaad, an artisan program in Pakistan.
Bunyaad was started in the 1960s by a Pakistani Baptist pastor as a way to create and sustain jobs in rural villages. Now, the program includes 850 families in approximately 100 villages in Pakistan.
The program joined forces with Ten Thousand Villages, the oldest and largest fair trade organization in North America, founded in 1946.
Gwen Repeta, rug program coordinator and manager at Ten Thousand Village’s location at 134 Plaza Dr., said Ten Thousand Villages lNorth American outlets sell 99% of Bunyaad’s rugs.
"Bunyaad buys every rug that their artisans make, and ship them to Pennsylvania, and I chose from there for (the stores) in western Canada," said Repeta.
Repeta, who has travelled to Pakistan to see the rug creation process, said while many people think the Bunyaad program only involves hiring artisans to knot the rugs, the program actually supports entire communities by creating jobs that pay fair wages.
Each rug is made with handspun wool, which means there are jobs for women spinning wool. The rugs are dyed with natural products by master dyers.
"When we’re looking at (rugs) that are all handspun wool and natural dyes, there’s so much more than knotting the carpet," Repeta said.
"If one person were to do all the aspects of the rug-making, they’d only be able to make between 10 or 14 rugs in a lifetime."
Repeta said the Plaza Drive location has the largest inventory of handspun Bunyaad rugs in Canada.
Repeta said the rugs have become quite popular over the years.
"We’ve run into all kinds of customers, and people from all walks of life. Some people buy the rugs because they’re committed to fair trade, (and others) know (the rugs) are real investments and want them in their home. They’re all supporting a great program."
During the store’s rug event there will be approximately 150 rugs on display, some at discounted prices.
Repeta said even if customers don’t find what they’re looking for at the event, she’s willing to work with customers to bring in a rug that will fulfill their need.
"We can fine tune a little bit to (peoples’) requests," she said.
For more information on Ten Thousand Villages or the Bunyaad rug program, visit tenthousandvillages.ca.
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