Hoi An, Vietnam: I can’t think of a bigger win/win for me than to be able to combine my shopping instinct with my altruistic instinct and I found just the spot in Hoi An. It’s at Reaching Out Handicrafts, a Fair Trade Gift Shop where you can buy arts and crafts, textiles, ceramics, jewelry, accessories, and home décor – all made by people with different abilities.
Reaching Out was founded in the Spring of 2000 by a group of disabled craftspeople in Hoi An, led by Le Nguyen Binh, in order to teach young disabled people marketable skills in a friendly, supportive environment. The results are spectacular!
They offer a gorgeous collection of items and operate as a social business, using principles of Fair Trade. The collective represents the various artists, allowing them to focus on what they do best – developing and manufacturing beautiful products.
They employ 35 disabled craftspeople in the workshop plus many more that work from home.
Earlier this week I purchased some silver earrings with the Chinese characters for ‘Patience’ – something I need more of! And a gorgeous big brown faux suede bag with colorful circular designs embroidered on which will be perfect for airplane travel – I can fit my Mac, several books, bottle of water and a camera and still have plenty of space left…
Beyond the surface beauty, I anticipate additional enjoyment every time I use the items when I remember their origin and the fact that I could contribute in a very small way to assist people with disabilities in Vietnam to achieve independence, dignity and integration into mainstream society…
There were several other things that caught my eye, so I’m heading back again this morning….in the meantime, here is an image Mike took while spending several hours in their workshop..
If you find yourself in Hoi An, they can be found at 103 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street….or on the web at http://www.reachingoutvietnam.com