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Nonprofit pushes fair trade

November 23, 2018

Fort Wayne’s Friends of the Third World wants everyone to consider fair-trade gifts this holiday season. 

“Live simply so that others may simply live,” said Marian Waltz, one of the Third World Shoppe managers. 

Friends of the Third World is one of many area nonprofit groups included in The Journal Gazette’s annual holiday charity giving list. The alphabetical listing of charities and their needs begins today and continues Saturday.

The Third World Shoppe, in an old brick home at 611 W. Wayne St., has tables and bins filled with handmade trinkets and crafts from around the world, including some from the U.S.

Everything the shop sells is fair trade, Waltz said. 

“There’s no child labor, no polluting the environment and the people who make the stuff have a decision in how much to sell it for,” she said. “We eliminate a lot of the middle people and skimming of profits along the way.”

The nonprofit organization’s motto is “Digging at the roots of poverty since 1972.”

The group does job training for Fort Wayne residents in need, in addition to sales of products made by groups like the Bombolulu Workshop for the Handicapped in Mombasa, Kenya. Friends of the Third World also accepts donations for refugees and to support their programming. 

Each item in the shop has a story behind it, store manager Jim Goetsch said. He’s particularly fond of chocolate bars produced by Divine Chocolate Limited. The company is the first farmer-owned chocolate company in the world and is owned in part by the Kuapa Kokoo cocoa farmers’ cooperative in Ghana, Africa. 

“This group managed to get a grant from one of the Aid for Africa concerts and were able to get a way they could organize and sell their chocolate directly,” Goetsch said. “They found a family chocolate company in Germany that would make the chocolate for them.” 

Friends of the Third World works with similar cooperatives across the world, buying products like coffee, rice and handcrafted goods for sale in the shop, Goetsch said. 

According to Friends of the Third World’s winter newsletter, the 126-year-old building that houses the shop needs work to preserve the brick facade and restore the wood front porches. The group also needs a new van and kitchen upgrades to meet health codes. Friends of the Third World also wants to expand with two new people to help manage the gift shop and employment training program. 

The organization was started in the early 1970s by students and teachers who raised money for the poor, Goetsch said. The group has grown and evolved. 

The first phase, the newsletter states, is expected to cost 10,000 matching grant. The second phase will cost $25,000. 

Friends of the Third World also relies on volunteers to run programs and the shop, Waltz said. 

“It’s a really fun place to work because there’s so much variety,” Waltz said.

Volunteers can get on-the-job training in skills like bookkeeping, office work, shipping and collating. Friends of the Third World also has a variety of research materials and videos on a range of topics. 

dgong@jg.net

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