I remember the first time I really stopped to think about Fairtrade. I was in my final year of university reading a text book about international development. This had been an area of interest to me from a very young age, when in the early nineties I had witnessed my parents supporting a Scottish charity, which delivered aid during the Bosnian war. My dad helped by driving vans full of toys and supplies from a convent, where these were collected and stored, to another part of Edinburgh, where they were shipped out from. It was from sitting in the passenger seat as my dad made these journeys that I understood that not everyone had the same, comfortable life that I did.
Many years later, as I sat in my room in my university flat, reading my textbooks there was a case study that made me stop and think. It was about a man who grew bananas. He like all dads wanting to give his children an education, but was stopped from doing so, because, despite his hard work and best efforts, he would have to sell the bananas at a low price, as he was competing in a market that was driven by profit, and cared little for who it exploited. I could not but think of my own dad, who worked long hours for us, to make sure that our family had everything we needed. These two men wanted the same things, to see their family flourish. One was able to see his children go off to university, the other could only dream of it.
I know that I can’t change the world simply by buying Fairtrade or encouraging others to do the same. But, to me when I chose the Fairtrade teabags or coffee it is with a hope that in doing so Fairtrade farmers will be able to send their children to school, be able to afford medical care and have a good quality of life.
Tomorrow is the start of Fairtrade Fortnight. Over these two weeks there will be lots of talks and events going on across the UK, all aimed at raising awareness of Fairtrade. I’m looking forward to attending one of these talks, and urge you, if you haven’t already, to start buyings fairtrade.