Mennonites aspire to follow the example and words of Jesus Christ in everyday life, including service to people in need.
In 1946, Edna Ruth Byler visited Mennonite volunteers in Puerto Rico who were teaching embroidery to students living in poverty. Byler brought home several embroidery pieces to sell to friends and neighbors. By the early ’70s, the flourishing handicraft project moved out of Byler’s basement and today has become Ten Thousand Villages, a nonprofit alternative trading organization that provides fair income to people in developing countries by selling their handicrafts in stores all over North America. Today, about 175 stores in the United States and Canada sell these crafts, made by an estimated 50,000 artisans from more than 30 countries.