Aled Pickard brings us the latest findings from our research project.
Fairtrade Fortnight seems like the ideal time to give an update on the research into what happens every time someone in Wales buys a fair trade product from Africa. There’s still some way to go, but we’ve already uncovered exciting and inspiring little gems.
Cards from Africa and Denur Crafts are small organisations created by individuals who responded to a need, bringing hope to marginalised members of society. Both report seeing significant changes not only in the lives of those who produce their goods, but also their families.
Cards from Africa produce hand-made, environmentally friendly greeting cards in Rwanda. A wide range of their products are available to buy from Fair Do’s, including an exclusive selection of Welsh language cards. Each card-maker has deep emotional needs and their own story of hardship to report, having grown up in a country that is still recovering from the genocide of 1994.
Today, Cards from Africa employs 100 staff in Rwanda who are paid more than teachers and nurses, despite many of them receiving little education. This enables them to meet their basic needs, pay for their siblings’ education and save for the future. It operates as a stepping stone that provides security and dignified employment to its card-makers while they take care of themselves and their families.
Since 2009, the sale of these cards at Fair Do’s would have enabled a card-maker to earn enough to pay for:
- 5 years of education for one child (including all fees, uniforms, books and stationery)
- 3 mosquito nets
- 12kg of seeds to grow food
- 3 tools for farming
- 119kw of electricity
And how does your individual purchase make an impact? Buying just one card would enable a card-maker pay for 1kw of electricity. Buying two cards could pay for 1kg of seeds to help feed the family.
Denur Crafts exists so that women in Kenya, who previously struggled to provide for their children, are able to send them to school. Currently, 38 women make beautiful jewellery, hand-crafted wooden figures and soapstone bowls. So far, 86 children have been supported through school, with the women earning enough money in one month to more or less cover all the education costs for one child for the entire year.
Sales of Denur’s goods at Fair Do’s since 2009 has helped pay for 10 years of education as well as 8 mosquito nets. There is a noticeable change in the women involved in the project – whereas previously, their children would often not have shoes on their feet, they are now fully clothed, they’re eating better and generally healthier. As the mothers are earning enough to cover their basic needs, they are less troubled and also in better health.
It’s so encouraging to see how much can be achieved from one small shop tucked away in the Canton area of Cardiff. Every single purchase contributes to the changes we’re seeing in Africa. Leah Mitula, who founded Denur Crafts, said:
“You may not think of the impact you’re having. Your shopping has made a lot of changes for the children of Kenya and it’s greatly appreciated.”
So why not pay a visit to Fair Do’s during Fairtrade Fortnight? Just one purchase can make such a difference…