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Natural Awakenings Indianapolis

Gifts That Give Back: Conscious Giving, with Local Businesses that Work Around the World

For those choosing to buy socially responsible gifts or seeking out vacation alternatives that support worthy causes abroad this holiday season, the Indianapolis area offers a variety of options to make a difference in other’s lives.

The Village Experience, in Broad Ripple, provides an array of opportunities to venture from the norm of holiday gift giving and travel to support people and communities in developing countries. Traveling under the auspices of the business and buying at the shop supports tsunami survivors in Thailand, mentally and physically challenged artisans in Kenya and young women rescued from human trafficking in India, among others.

The retail shop offers a fair trade—constituting offering a fair price to the crafters in places where normal wages are usually very low—line of products made by artisans in the communities the Village Cooperative operates. The Village Experience carries brass- and clay-beaded jewelry, bamboo bowls, accessories, coffee, pillows and other goods made by supported artisans in countries like Haiti, Tanzania, Vietnam, Uganda, Kenya and Bali. These products can also be purchased on its website and through wholesale for resale in other shops and galleries.

To meet the artisans and to see firsthand projects supported by The Village Cooperative, travel packages are offered that connect people with the diverse and sustainable endeavors. Group trips to Guatemala, Haiti, India, Kenya and Thailand support local economies while passengers gain a new-world view, meaningful relationships and powerful stories to share. Travelers visit places with projects that teach art in Haiti, educate children in Cambodia, offer vocational training to women in Kolkata and deliver food and medicine in Guatemala. Each trip includes open days to explore local sites, restaurants and historical landmarks.


Horizon International, headquartered in Pendleton, also provides options for alternative ways to give back. It coordinates the sponsorship and support of children affected by the ravages of HIV/AIDS in several regions of South Africa. Horizon also offers the opportunity to purchase gifts and services for these children and associated micro-businesses. Purchase a gift in a loved one’s name through the holiday catalog–selections include blankets, bicycles, access to clean water, garden tools and seeds, school supplies, bedding and more.  

Trips to South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe are also offered to see first-hand the lives of suffering children, meet and sponsor a child or have contact with a child presently sponsored. Trips include ministry facilitation, retreats for African teenage orphans, construction and rehabilitation of ministry facilities, conference organization with the goal of education, medical and financial relief efforts and can be specifically designed for pastors and other leaders to visit as many ministry sites as possible.

Horizons International is also proud to house a gift shop to benefit fair trade causes at its headquarters. Artwork, figurines, curios and kitchen items from various parts of Africa are purchased directly from the local artisans. Bead necklaces and woven baskets from Uganda, ebony wood and stone animals and salad utensils from Zimbabwe, hematite and malachite necklaces and bracelets from Zambia, pillow coverings and table cloths from sewing centers in Limpopo Province and Western Cape, South Africa are also featured in the shop.

“All of the items in our gift shop are purchased directly from the people that make them, benefiting the local economy two-fold. First, the money goes directly back to the people producing the curios, and second, any profits from our gift shop are used to create a world of hope for AIDS orphans,” says Samantha Frazier, director of operations at Horizon International.  

Global Gifts, a retail shop with two locations in Indianapolis and one in Bloomington, features a large variety of fair trade items for purchase. Artisans from Africa, Asia, Latin America and North America contribute handcrafted goods such as bags and purses, keepsake boxes, jewelry, candleholders, sculptures, home decor items and a variety of other options. Gift cards are also available.

The Village Experience, 6055 N. College Ave., Indianapolis, 317-602-3696, Horizon International, 1 Plaza Dr., Pendleton, 765-778-1016 or 866-778-7020, Global Gifts, 446 Massachusetts Ave., Indianapolis, 317-423-3148; 1300 E. 86th St., Ste. 17, Indianapolis, 317-569-0670;
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