Ann Blocha is vice chair of the board of Ten Thousand Villages Raleigh and leads the board’s human-resources committee.
It’s the hope and dream of all moms everywhere: A better world for their children.
As a woman in the United States, I enjoyed an excellent education, a comfortable middle-class upbringing, and have many professional opportunities.
These opportunities are due to many other women who came before me, and I feel it is my turn to help others. I became a volunteer board member with Ten Thousand Villages of Raleigh as a way to pay it forward.
I have always had an interest in the root causes of poverty and a desire to create better opportunities for women. That is the focus of Ten Thousand Villages: Improving the lives of artisans caught in the web of extreme poverty.
Ten Thousand Villages is a nonprofit, fair-trade organization that provides opportunities and hope to impoverished artisans in developing countries by marketing their handmade home décor pieces, jewelry and gift items.
The vast majority of the artisans Ten Thousand Villages supports are women working to provide basic sustenance for their families. The reason I give my time and professional experience to the Raleigh store is the end result: Women supporting their families with the dignity of work.
My grandmother worked to help support her family on the farm. My mother was the first to go to college in our family, yet she was restricted to a nursing or secretarial degree.
Because of their hard work, I was free to choose any field, and was able to complete a master’s degree in my chosen field. I feel a responsibility to use my professional experience to improve our community and our world.
Now, as a mom working to save for college funds for my children, it is also important to me to help mothers in developing countries send their children to school.
With the income earned through Ten Thousand Villages, women artisans are able to provide a safe home, enough food, and the school fees needed for primary and even secondary education for their children.
The current generation of women artisans is working for sustenance, just as my grandmother did, so that the next may have more opportunities. Similar to my family history, I want to see the next generation of women in all parts of the world be able to improve their lives.
Ten Thousand Villages of Raleigh provides me with a way to make a difference in my community, as a board member and as a shopper. Ten Thousand Villages not only educates customers about the lives of artisans, but it also is a welcoming, fun place to shop for beautiful handicrafts from around the world. I enjoy giving a gift that has purpose and knowing that the sale helps to improve the lives of women and their families.
I am thankful that I have found a way to use my education, experience and enthusiasm to better the lives of other women worldwide.
For more information see http://www.tenthousandvillages.com/.