Want to get an early start on that holiday shopping? Looking for gift ideas that are more meaningful and even more ethical? Marketplace Manna’s Around the World Shop at the Jackson Crossing Mall sells many unique items from more than 30 countries from 5 continents. Its purpose is to help the poor disenfranchised, persecuted, disabled and unemployed around the world.
My wife and I are missionaries to the Balkan region of Europe. As we served the people one thing kept coming up and that was the fact that every adult in the home worked but it still wasn’t enough to make ends meet. In fact, 25% of all Bulgarians on planet earth do not live in Bulgaria.They are the 25-55-year-old workers who have left their kids with grandparents and have gone to another country to find work. We did not think that is the best way to be a family and so we began supplemental businesses to let folks make products in their spare time that we sell – these are called “Livelihood Groups”.
The workers are paid a fair wage and are paid upfront so the more items sold the more people we can put to work to replace what is sold.
When we looked at opening a kiosk at the Jackson Crossing Mall we had hoped to be able to sell the product our team is making but the Mall offered us a store front. That meant we would need more inventory and more variety. We contacted our friends that were doing similar things and expanded our offerings.
Since opening in November 2018, we are regularly adding partners and now work with 16 total fair-trade groups serving folks locally and overseas. Each product is tagged with the name of the group and the country it is from so people get a bit of the back story.
One group works with disabled women in china who cannot find work otherwise, we have refugees, we have women trying to make a new life, we have minorities who are not hired and want work to support their families.
Every product has a story and every story is a real person needing real help. When you shop at the Around the World Shop you help us help people care for their families.
Written by Al & Diane Mellinger
Bio: Al & Diane Mellinger are operators of the “Around the World Shop” – a fair-trade store when not serving as Team Leaders of a holistic ministry in the Balkans. They have 2 sons, one is married and they have one granddaughter.