Photos by Zach Rockwood
Cocos~Pure of Vancouver, Canada has joined forces with The Village Experience (TVE) to assist in an economic development project for victims of the 2004 tsunami in rural Thailand. The Village Experience has been working with an artisan group and orphanage in the small village of Takapua, Thailand for the past 4 years to help families recovering from devastation find their footing again.
Measured in lives lost, the disaster of 2004 is one of the ten worst earthquakes in recorded history, as well as the single worst tsunami in history. Thailand’s tourism and fishing industries were devastated – two of the main industries based in the South. Thousands of lives were lost, families were torn apart, others were displaced, and many lost their livelihoods.
Now, eight years after the tsunami, villages in the South are attempting to make their way back to economic sustainability. That is where The Village Experience steps in. TVE stumbled upon The Baan Than Namchai Foundation on a trip to the country 4 years ago. Upon learning the story of the foundation, TVE founders, Anne and Kelly Campbell, were hooked.
Baan Than Namchai Foundation runs an orphanage for children affected by the tsunami. Over 70 children are housed, clothed, fed, and provided with an education through the foundation. This enterprising group has also started great income-generating activities such as oyster mushroom gardens, orchid farms, rice paddies, catfish ponds, and hydro-ponic greenhouses.
TVE noticed that several of the women in the community and one gentleman were making handicrafts from a rented space in the orphanage. The products were beautiful and immediately TVE got to work thinking of ways to partner.
The Village Experience began importing and carrying products from this artisan group in their fair trade retail store in the United States and online. The response to the products and the artisan stories were so enthusiastic that TVE decided to help take the artisan group to the next level.
After several trips and many skyping sessions, a plan was put in place to fund a highly skilled fashion designer from New York to come work with the artisans on developing an entirely new line of high quality fair trade products.
TVE’s plan is to get the artisans making new products and then distribute them throughout retail establishments around the world. The more TVE can sell, the more they can purchase from the artisans. This results in more money coming in for the foundation and more artisans being trained and employed. The artisan group has made a commitment to the orphanage to donate a percentage of everything they make directly to helping the children. Yes – the artisans are giving back to the children… we love it!
As TVE set about making this plan a reality, they realized they would need some outside help in securing funding for specialized, industrial sewing, leather, and binding machines. TVE immediately thought of the team at Cocos~Pure, who have been involved in Thailand for many years, including their great outreach during the flooding in Bangkok earlier this year.
“I knew if I reached out to the team at Cocos~Pure and told them we would be creating jobs for those recovering from the tsunami, they would want to be involved. Cocos~Pure has a great reputation for being involved in the community, and we couldn’t ask for a better partner in making this dream a reality for the community of Takapua.” Says TVE co-founder, Kelly Campbell.
Cocos~Pure and The Village Experience are proud of this partnership and encourage other companies to follow this example and find ways to make a positive contribution to the world. If you would like to get involved, please contact one of the following people:
Aron Tegenfeldt –
Tiffin Clark –
Jim Dunn – Cocos~Pure and Dunn Global
Kelly Campbell – The Village Experience