Our research worker Aled Pickard writes:
Another year has flown by, and after more than two years of celebrating some of the wonderful things that fair trade is doing across Africa, our project, funded by the Welsh Government, is now sadly coming to an end. Being given the opportunity to research the impact we have when we buy fair trade items, and realising that every single purchase really does make a difference, has affirmed my belief that fair trade is a force for good.
Buying fair trade products enables families across the world to invest in their children’s education. Buying fair trade products enables communities to invest in the things they need to develop, such as schools, health centres and clean water. Buying fair trade products means you are supporting sustainable production and protecting our planet. Every time you buy a fair trade product, you are doing this and so much more.
The continued interest and desire to learn about fair trade has also been very affirming. Our third grant from Hub Cymru Africa enabled us to continue doing outreach work to help schools, community groups and workplaces understand the value of supporting fair trade. More than 5,000 people engaged with the project this time. I visited 20 schools across 7 local authorities to deliver assemblies and workshops. With the support of Environet Cymru, groups in north, mid and south Wales learned about the environmental benefits of supporting fair trade. We had stalls at universities, schools and workplaces, which helped generate more than £4,000 in sales of fair trade items. We loved it when we’d hear from places we visited telling us how much they enjoyed learning about fair trade, and were thrilled to be highly commended in the Wales Africa Awards in January.
The support for fair trade means that lives are being changed in many of the world’s poorest countries. With our latest grant, we worked with Denur Crafts to help ensure that children in Kenya can attend school. The 100th child is now attending school, thanks to the tireless work of Leah Mitula, Denur’s founder. She’s keen to support a new group of mothers who need additional income to help fund their children’s education. We did some market research to find out what people think is needed, and leather goods is what came out on top. Leah feels she can help train the mothers to make leather items to sell in the UK, and with the grant money, we will supply Denur with the equipment and material they need to start production. Hopefully, when Leah will return to Cardiff in a year’s time to deliver more stock, she’ll bring with her a batch of fair trade leather items!
Although my time with the project is coming to an end, the work to promote fair trade and the partners we’ve featured in the project will continue. We’re hoping to help Leah find a new UK-based wholesaler that will promote and sell Denur’s products more widely and we are investigating other sources of income that will enable us to continue with the outreach work that is clearly much needed and having a big impact. You can still download the presentation, assembly and classroom activities (in English and Welsh) from our website.
The highlights of my time working on this project are the life-changing stories that have come from our partners. We still love the beautiful, hand-made Cards From Africa, whose work benefits orphaned young adults in Rwanda. This year, two new groups have embarked on the 90kg rice challenge, which is funding children’s education in Malawi and means that people such as Kenson Silungwe can attend university – could you take on the 90kg rice challenge? And remember, just 55 people drinking one cup of fair trade coffee every day can help sustain a coffee farmer and their family in Uganda.
The last words most certainly belong to one of the Ugandan coffee farmers who visited Wales two years ago. Patrick told us at Fair Do’s about the difference fair trade has made to not only his life, but to everyone in his community. He said, “It is because of fair trade that most of my family have received an education. Because of fair trade, we have constructed good houses, primary schools, health centres; we have more clean water and better roads.”
Everyone at Fair Do’s would like to say a HUGE thank you to Aled for his work on this project which has been so groundbreaking, not to mention fascinating and motivating for all of us!
You can still see Aled working in the shop on occasional days; be sure to say hello!