When Paballo was eleven years old in Grade 5 at school, his mother became mentally ill and had to give up her work in a bookshop. As a result, Paballo became very dependent on his father. In his second year at high school when he was fifteen, he was devastated when his father died. As there was now no means of raising the fees required for his schooling, Paballo dropped out of school.
Three years later, a past school principal of his paid the fees to enable him to go back to school. It was at this time that the Christian Revival Church through the outreach ministry arm of the church called ‘Love in Action Lesotho’ and one of the projects under this umbrella ‘Jewels of Hope’ (JoH) became aware of his situation and he was invited to join the first group of JoH in 2005. With the financial assistance that he was given he was able to finish his high schooling and went on to college to study home economics. He also learnt the skills of Jewellery making.
Fair Trade Skills
During his schooling he worked in making Fair Trade jewellery in Lesotho. Paballo was mentored and taught many skills. He learnt a variety of jobs including renovating, and showed how to maintain,
his house. At the age of twenty-one, Paballo was still sleeping in the same room as his mentally ill mother – two other rooms in the house where un-liveable. Paballo was also taught how to repair and restore these two rooms. He now has a bedroom of his own and is able to rent out the other room to bring in some income.
After completing the three-year ‘Jewels of Hope’ (JoH) Fair Trade Jewellery program, he became a trainer and worked with a group of five children to disciple and mentor them as well as teaching them how to make jewellery. He has gone on to be a teacher’s aide at the American International School in Maseru, the capital city of Lesotho. Life would have been very different for Paballo if he had not had the opportunity to learn many skills including making Fair trade jewellery.
‘Jewels of Hope’ (JoH) is an organization started to teach orphans and vulnerable children how to make Fair Trade jewellery as a source of income. It was started under ‘Love in Action Lesotho’ (LiAL) in Lesotho, Africa.
Fair Trade Jewellery made by orphans and vulnerable children
By supporting Jewels of Hope you enable children to receive:
Basic income to buy food, shoes & clothes
The means to attend school
Access to care, mentorship and personal development
Finance to purchase materials to make more products
After the death of his mother when he was six years old, Daniel went to live with an uncle. When he was in Grade 3 at school, he went into the mountains to live with his father but as he was required to herd the cows every second day, he only went to school on alternate days. After his father died when he was in Grade 6, so Daniel returned to live with his uncle again. Unfortunately, his uncle became blind and died, so the following year, when Daniel was in Grade 7, he went to live with his grandmother.
Daniel’s aunt had recently become involved as a trainer in a project called ‘Jewels of Hope’ (JoH) that had been started under ‘Love in Action Lesotho’ (LiAL), so Daniel was taken into the program in 2006. When Graeme became a trainer in May of 2008, he began to disciple and mentor Daniel (second from the left) as well as teach him how to make jewellery. With the help of LiAL and JoH, he was able to finish his high schooling and is now in his third year at college doing a course in Business Management. To raise money for transport and other necessities, he has been raising chickens, putting in to practice the business principles that he learned at JoH. He ultimately hopes that he will be able to become an accountant in the future.
In 2009, Daniel (left) became a trainer in the JoH program and now successfully leads a group of five children seeking to disciple and mentor them as well as teach them how to make jewellery.
Benefits of Fair Trade
In May of 2014, Daniel (left) was one of eight graduates from the LiAL project to be trained in the making of paper beads. The organization ‘Jewels of Hope’ based in Johannesburg will buy the beads and use them in their Fairtrade jewellery designs. This gives these young people a means of earning an income to assist them as they continue their studies. This is just one of many examples where buying Fair Trade products makes a difference to a children and a community.
When you buy Fair Trade products you only spend a little bit of extra money on those products. But that little bit of extra money that guarantees a fair wage to the artisan or craftspeople who make those items adds up to massive amounts of money that is used to fund huge change. More than 4 billion dollars are spent on Fair Trade products yearly.
That’s because the premiums that you pay on Fair Trade items go directly to the person that made the product, not to the shareholders of some giant global corporation. Your money is not paying for some executive’s private jet or fancy home. It’s putting food on the table for the family of a craftsman. It’s funding a public school in a developing community. It’s giving a woman the money she needs to leave her abusive husband and feed her kids. It’s promoting growth and independence in communities around the world. It’s also helping the environment. The crafters and artists who create these products are not pouring chemicals into river or creating massive environmental damage with huge factories. They are using locally made and sustainably produced materials to create beautiful fair trade products that are very high quality and will last.
It changes communities
Buying Fair Trade also changes the way that communities are run. When a small business prospers because of the program that money and success impact the entire community. That one small business that is supported by the purchases that you and people like you make will provide employment for local workers, money for the local community to use for health care, education, and streamlined services like water and sanitation. These small businesses will also be able to mentor other small business owners and teach those business owners the skills they have learned from the Fairtrade program. When small businesses thrive the community thrives. When these communities thrive the country thrives. When the country thrives and contributes to the global economy other countries thrive. Fair Trade is the heart of a new type of consumerism – consumerism that cares.
Are you a thoughtful consumer?
The global recession rocked many countries, and many of them are still trying to recover. But the recession also made people realize how interconnected people are with each other, with other communities, and with other countries. These days consumers are more thoughtful about what they buy and really want to know that their purchases have meaning because. When you buy ethically produced products for fair prices you are helping other people just like you to follow their dreams and help their communities. Together everyone can build a stronger economy and a brighter future.
Long Term benefits of Fair Trade Products
It can be a challenge to find the extra money for Fair Trade clothing and products if you are on a tight budget. Sometimes it may seem like it’s just easier to buy the items you need from discount stores. But you can choose to support it, even on a limited budget. With a little planning and a little ingenuity you can find ways to stick to your budget and still only buy certified items. The higher quality of these items means they will last longer, so a little extra money spent now means that you won’t have to replace the item in a few months and spend even more money. Think of the long term benefits of shopping for these items instead of the short term loss of money. The sacrifice of paying a slightly higher price up front for well-made ethically produced items is worth it when you remember what you are a part of when you buy these handcrafted sustainably produced items.
Buying Fair Trade products is more important than ever to keep communities growing and sustaining the people who live there. There is a lot of competition for consumer dollars right now. Many people are watching the bottom line very carefully and trying to get the best possible deal on items they need to buy. There are plenty of cheap options for goods and discount stores that specialize in low prices by buying vast quantities of goods at discounted prices from overseas factories and shops. But price shouldn’t be the only factor that you consider when you are deciding what to purchase. Spending a few extra dollars on a product isn’t going to make a huge difference to your budget in the long run. But those few dollars will make a huge difference to a crafts person in a developing community. Paying a few extra dollars is also the way that you can tell those big chain stores that you don’t want to buy goods made in dangerous factories by workers who are being exploited.
Your money is your voice in the global consumer marketplace. When you spend a little more and buy certified Fair Trade clothing and products you are getting a higher quality product and you are directly contributing to the community where the artisan lives. Even though you pay a slightly higher price for the item than you would pay at a discount store the impact that your dollars have is enormous and can be life changing for small businesses and artisans in developing countries.
How your dollars support community growth when you buy Fair Trade Products:
Empowers artisans and cooperatives:
When you pay the people who make the items that you buy a fair price you are directly contributing to their survival and development. With the profit from Fair Trade sales artisans and cooperative members can feed their families, provide clean drinking water and medicine to their children, and build safe homes. The few extra dollars that you pay for a Fair Trade product can mean the difference between surviving and thriving for a craftsman in a developing community.
Fair Trade educates communities:
As part of the Fair Trade agreement mentors and teachers will work with Fair trade suppliers to teach them how to successfully run a small business. They will also learn basic skills that they might never have learned like reading, math, and language skills to make them more successful. What they learn they will teach their kids and their employees, increasing the chances that they will also be able to run successful businesses and help themselves and the community thrive.
Fair Trade provides schools and medical care:
When a Fairtrade business is making a profit the money they earn will be invested directly back into the local economy. That extra money will allow communities to build community health clinics, public schools, and food banks that will support the people in the community. Children will have access to medical care and an education as well as having the chance to learn how to run a business. When a community has an influx of money they can also fund civic projects like low income housing and facilities to provide clean water and sanitation. Buying Fair Trade products gives you the chance to invest directly in a developing community and have a real impact on the people that live there.
Easier access to loans and financing:
Small businesses in developing countries that operate as part of the Fair Trade network often have access to micro-loans and other financing to help them get started that they wouldn’t qualify for otherwise. Businesses mentors give them knowledge as well as loaned money to help them find suppliers, get equipment and machinery or animals or seeds to get started making items to sell. Having access to that financing means that small companies can employ local members of the community and help to raise the standard of the living in the community.
So stop looking just the price of an item and look at the total cost of the item overall. Buying Fair Trade products may cost you a little extra money but it will also give you the chance to make a direct impact on a developing community.
Are you confused about what exactly is Fair Trade and what it means? You’re not alone, a lot of people don’t know much about it except that it is supposed to be good for buyers and companies. The movement started by socially conscious consumers concerned about Fair Trade goods who wanted to use their money as a tool to help small businesses and kickstart financial development in underdeveloped countries. Today there are four international organizations that oversee and certify businesses as Fairtrade, and promote the growth of the businesses. Fair Trade International is the largest of the certification agencies and helps millions of small farmers and craftsmen in more than 70 countries earn money and support community growth.
What Fair Trade Means for Workers
Any company that wants to be certified as a Fair Trade company must pay workers a living wage for the area that the business is located in. Workers must have the right to form unions if they feel that it is necessary and they must be allowed to collectively bargain. Also any business that wants to have the benefits of Fair Trade Certification has to give workers safe and healthy working conditions, set amounts of time off, and the opportunity for education and other advancement. Companies that want to stay certified have to be examined every two to three years and if they are continuing to follow the dictates of Fair trade International they can remain certified.
That means that works at these companies have money to feed their families, send their children to school, and get medical care. The opportunity to earn a decent wage is life changing for many people in developing countries. Women especially benefit from the work, often women in developing countries do not have a lot of freedom or choice. Being able to earn a fair salary means that they can become independent and live better lives. Many craft cooperatives and other Fairtrade businesses are run by women out of their homes.
What Fair Trade Means for Business Owners
Small business owners or cooperative leaders can benefit from Fair Trade Act as much as their workers. The businesses average higher sales than larger companies that make comparable products. The business owners get access to advice, promotion, and financing from Fairtrade friendly companies and banks. They also get workers who are happy to come to work and do great work. Helping people while putting out great products is the goal of most the businesses. Working with an international organization gives them the chance to get their products to consumers all over the world and become successful in an ethical and sustainable way.
What Fair Trade Means for Communities
It doesn’t just benefit workers and business owners, it also benefits communities. Consumers pay higher prices to buy Fairtrade goods. There are two premiums built into the prices. One is so that the company can afford to pay the workers who produce the items a living wage. The other is so that the company can invest back in the community. That money that farmers, crafters, and artisans sink back into the community goes to build schools, hospitals, and to provide services that community needs. Some of the projects that are able to be funded through local businesses include building wells and developing clean water systems, developing irrigation systems, and planting community gardens to provide food.
Also the fair wages paid to the workers in the small businesses and cooperatives allow them to purchase more items from local vendors. That increases the prosperity of the entire community. Being able to depend on a good salary means that workers can buy homes, cars and other durable items.
Look Past Higher Price Tags on Fair Trade Products
It’s important for consumers to look past the higher price tag on Fairtrade products and see all the benefits that they bring. When you are buying items that you need and want take a moment to weigh the cost of the item against all the good things that come from them. Consumers who have the ability to pay a few extra dollars for items can improve the lives of a lot of people just by buying Fair Trade clothing and Products.