From 2nd to 17th May is Fair Trade Fortnight – a World Vision campaign aimed at making people aware of the impact of what and when they buy – it’s about primary producers getting a fair deal, without exploitation. The Fair Trade certified label provides an independent guarantee that the products you buy are supporting families to lift themselves out of a cycle of poverty in developing countries. A product must meet stringent fair trade standards before it can display the label. Fairtrade products currently available in Australia are: coffee, tea, chocolate, cocoa, nuts, sports balls, rice, quinoa, sugar and cotton.
“The impact of climate change will fall disproportionately on the world’s poorest countries….Poor people already live on the frontlines of pollution, disaster and the degradation of resources and land. For them, adaptation is a matter of sheer survival” Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan
We passed many of these charcoal sellers on the side of the road during our trip to Kenya in 2007. Women, with no other way of earning an income, would walk far into the bush and collect wood. They would then arrange it in a pit and burn it slowly, covered with soil. This makes the wood lighter to carry and quicker to set alight when used in cooking fires. They would then stay with their bag of charcoal until they could sell it, often to passing safari travellers, before they walked home again. The irony is, that by burning the wood, they are destroying habitat for the animals that the safari tourists are coming to see, and without the animals and therefor the tourists, many would not make a living.
By supporting these women in small business (perhaps with a sewing machine, art materials or a solar cooker) we can improve the lives of whole families and contribute to the solution to environmental degradation.
Watch this YouTube video “The Girl Effect– the powerful social and economic change brought about when girls have the opportunity to participate in their society. “]
October 15th is Blog Action Day, “an annual nonprofit event that aims to unite the world’s bloggers, podcasters and videocasters, to post about the same issue on the same day.” The idea is to focus attention on one issue – in 2008 it is Poverty – and raise awareness on a global scale.
I have travelled in many developing nations, including Kenya, Tanzania, Thailand and Indonesia and have been welcomed into the homes of people with very few possessions. People with families, hopes and dreams of a better life. I am constantly grateful for the opportunity to bring up children in a safe and prosperous part of the world. As a teacher, I am in a position where I can share my understanding of the unequal distribution of the earth’s resources and I can encourage students to believe that with the great privileges they experience in Australia, comes a responsibility to use those privileges with care and respect. I hope that one day I will have the opportunity to do more than educate the privileged – perhaps by contributing practical teaching skills in a developing community. Our World Vision sponsor child, Lemison, is the same age as my son James and has similar interests (sport, sport and sport!). He lives in Malawi, where clean water and food is scarce and most of the population relies on subsistence farming for survival.
There are many ways to do your bit to fight against poverty:
1. Sponsor a child
2. Make a donation
3. Buy ‘Fairtrade’ tea, coffee or chocolate
4. Instead of buying Christmas gifts for friends and family who have more than they need, buy from the ‘Smiles’ catalogue – mosquito nets to reduce malaria infection, goats for milk, chickens for eggs and meat, tools and seeds for gardens, childhood immunizations, donkeys, bicycles and pigs are all excellent gifts for families living in poverty.