I always try to take part in some event during Fairtrade Fortnight, as it is a time when Fairtrade can come alive, and I get the opportunity to hear from the people who work hard all year round to produce these products.
This year, I attended a talk run by an organisation called ‘Think Global’, whose aim is to develop peoples’ understanding of global issues such as poverty, and inspire them to take action.
The event I attended was was about the power of cooperatives. It had women speakers from India and Palestine (the Palestinians had been denied their visas so they gave their talk via skype). They both gave brilliant talks, with one explaining the history of co-operatives and their role in society, while the other explained what being part of a Fairtrade cooperative meant to them.
I’m familiar with the Fairtrade movement and believe in its vision. Each year I learn something new, be it about a country, some of the produce I buy or about a community. But, this year, the thing that struck me the most was in the parting comments of one of the speakers: “Buying Fairtrade is trade, not aid”.
In a previous blog I mentioned that to me Fairtrade is about standing alongside small scale farmers, but at this talk I was reminded that it is about more than this. “Trade not Aid”. To purchase Fairtrade is to engage in an equal exchange, knowing that we have purchased a good quality product, and in doing so are enabling a farmer to stand on their own feet, and not have to rely on aid. It is about empowering communities.
I’ve always purchased Fairtrade tea and coffee, but this year I am reminded that I should be doing more than this. Every time that I go shopping I should be asking for the Fairtrade, or ethical option, and that is what I plan to do.