By Hope McKeever
Photos: Nate Bergey
Globally, markets serve as the epi-center of economic and social involvement. Likewise, with outdoor farmer’s markets, Pennsylvania is no stranger to a market model of community building and agricultural emphasis. From spicy Mexican enchiladas to sweet chocolate truffles from Ukraine, many countries have traditions that make their market experience unique. Market place goods are often linked to the economic and social atmosphere of a country. MEDA saw this as the perfect vehicle to raise awareness about our important work and support the creation of opportunities for people living in poverty.
On June 4, the MEDA World Night Market lit up the Souderton (Pennsylvania) Shopping Center with the excitement of sharing in MEDA’s mission to provide business solutions to poverty. The energy of the enthusiastic crowd, twinkling lights strung from the roofs, energetic music and delicious food drew a crowd of over 2,000 people, including young professionals, families, friends, and local business representatives.
“I think for me one of the most special things about this is how so many, many people, especially young adults, used the variety of gifts God has given to them to His glory!” noted Rita Hoover, chair of the World Night Market committee.
At the entrance of the event, MEDA staff greeted guests as they stepped under the welcome banner into an inviting atmosphere of international proportion. Volunteers creatively adorned each of the ten tents with crafts, food, and information specific to that particular country. For example, the Tanzania tent included samples of plantain chips, a salty snack native to the region, and information about MEDA’s cassava project. Local bands, including a Congolese worship band from the Evangelical Center for revival kept the energy high all evening. If the dancing didn’t keep guests awake, the fair trade coffee served up by Ten Thousand Villages staff kept visitors alert.
Throughout the course of the evening, MEDA provided visitors with diverse avenues for engagement.
Tyler Hunsberger, the evening’s emcee, raved, "This truly was a special night for our community, so many different people coming together for a night of engaging fun all under the umbrella of supporting a great organization like MEDA."
Some busily completed quizzes about MEDA’s work in hopes of winning gift baskets, while others listened to Skype presentations from projects. The volunteers at the sound booth broadcasted live and recorded Skype calls with MEDA staff in Ghana, Myanmar and Ukraine for viewers relaxing around the fire. These calls added an important educational dimension to the event. Activities such as henna tattoos, hair braiding and a soccer tournament made the event a family-friendly atmosphere for everyone!
Nancy Fenstermacher, a guest from Souderton, testified to the magnitude of the event saying, “I drive through here all the time, and all of a sudden it’s a magical place!”
With over 20 community sponsors, including Bergey’s Electric, and over 100 local and international volunteers, the event highlighted the ongoing partnerships between the local community and the global MEDA family.
Janis Derstine from Derstine’s Inc. mentioned that the event represented, “a true sense of our community in action: not 'us’ and ’them,’ but ’WE’!”
"MEDA friends and supporters are amazing, talented and passionate people,” said Ruth Leaman, a senior development officer at MEDA. “Unleashing their creative spirit and energy is what made the MEDA World Night Market such an incredible experience."
“MEDA World Night Market came together because there were volunteers who had an eye for creating beautiful space that took you around the world,” said Hoover, “All these talented people worked as a team to create the atmosphere that was so special that night!”
As the night wound down, visitors left with full stomachs, fun memories and a better understanding of MEDA’s role in creating economic empowerment around the world.