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Fair Trade, Eco and Ethical

World Fair Trade Day: 9 May 2020

World Fair Trade Day is a world celebration and whilst the news in Britain concentrates on how Covid-19 affects us all here, we’d like to focus on what’s happening overseas, both on the struggles and the successes, the good and the bad. As fair traders, we are part of a global community; this is a difficult time, and we are all trying to help one another out if we can.

So first, a big well done to Moon and all the staff at Tara Projects, New Delhi. Three days ago they announced that they have now distributed 600 food kits to the most vulnerable people in Delhi’s poorest areas – enough to feed about 3,000 people for the next month. Delhi is in complete lockdown, and with no social security to rely on, thousands of people are starving because they are unable to earn any money at the moment.

Next, to Kenya and Tabaka, where our Kisii soapstone is quarried and carved. It’s in the countryside where there’s no outside support at all. We’re delighted that our Just Giving page has already raised enough money to provide real support to our carvers and their families there, about 200 people in all. Even better, some of this support will help in the long-term – workshops have been held in soap-making, which will help with income generation in the future, and with no running water, 4 large water tanks have been installed, and 4 people trained in basic plumbing skills. The community has also been provided with face masks, made by a community project in Kisumu, providing an income for disadvantaged people there.

Soap making workshop in Tabaka

Wearing face masks made by a community project in Kisumu

Other news in Nairobi is not so good. On Tuesday, 3,000 people were made homeless when their tin-shack houses were flattened by government bulldozers, with armed police supervision, at dawn, apparently with no notice given at all. The land, said government officials, belonged to a water company. Shared Earth and our colleague the Zuri Foundation are doing what we can, which is not very much, basically just providing some emergency help to about 50 single mothers there. It’s not what people need in the middle of a world pandemic.

Nairobi, forced eviction (photo courtesy BBC)

The economic effects of the lockdown are severe throughout most of the world. In Madagascar, where our suppliers make model bicycles, cars and other vehicles from recycled tin cans, there have been no deaths so far, but no work is possible because our suppliers are confined to their village, unable to go to the nearest town to buy raw materials.


Another of our suppliers which makes recycled products is Conserve, in New Delhi in India. Conserve is committed to clearing Delhi of its plastic waste, at the same time providing work for some of its most disadvantaged inhabitants. We’ve ordered a selection of their upcycled plastic bags, which we hope will arrive soon – or when the lockdown allows. At present, Conserve is helping to run community kitchens, organising health workshops, distributing free face masks and campaigning for help from large corporations. In fact all across India, Fair Trade organisations are rallying round to help the most needy. A slogan used by many fair traders in the past is ‘trade not aid’, but at present, trade is just not possible, and with no alternative, the slogan has turned full circle to ‘aid, not trade’.

Conserve, New Delhi, helping with food aid

One Fair Trade supplier which has spotted an opportunity in this crisis is Selyn in Sri Lanka, which has turned its workforce to make cotton masks from their homes, as part of a project initiated by the World Fair Trade Organisation. This is keeping them in work, and having a positive health effect in the fight against Coronavirus too. These masks should be available on our website soon, hopefully next week.

Face mask made by Selyn, Sri Lanka

Whilst much of human life has come to a standstill, this is not the case with wildlife. So we’ll finish with a shot of a ‘bee hotel’, a product we buy from Bali in Indonesia. It was taken near York this week. You can see that many of the tubes have been filled (they’re used by solitary bees, who lay their eggs in them), and at the moment the bees are having a great time swarming around them. The sun is shining and they, at least, seem happy. For us it may be raining right now, metaphorically speaking, but we’ve got our rainbows out and we know this crisis can’t go on forever!

Bee "hotel" in York, UK, made in Bali, Indonesia

Created On  8 May 2020 0:01 in Coronavirus  -  >>

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