April 15, 2009

Fair trade series: Why bother?

We have a new site www.g-lish.org where you can read all articles from This is Ghana in a much more organised fashion. Read Fair trade series: Why bother? there.

If no one had clued on to the idea of fair trade sixty years ago, we wouldn’t have over 1 million small producers around the world engaged in fair trade today. According to WFTO there are more than 3000 organisations spanning more than 50 countries.

One billion people around the world live in “extreme poverty”. Another 2.5 billion live in “poverty”. Our affluent western lifestyle is the global exception, not the norm.

The reason to bother is because by buying fair trade you can be assured that you’re assisting someone out of poverty and towards a future where they have options.

It’s hard to describe the difference one more dollar makes to someone who earns a dollar a day in a few words. It’s the difference between getting medical treatment and not. It’s the difference between subsistence and saving. It’s the difference between being able to send your kids to school and not, even if they can’t afford shoes. As my Ghanaian fiancĂ© said of his impoverished childhood: “my head was learning, not my feet; I could still attend school without shoes”.

Campaigns like World Vision’s dollar a day to help needy children are clichĂ©s these days, but they’re not kidding; it really does make a difference.

But, imagine if those communities had the opportunity to earn the money legitimately, themselves, instead of relying on foreign aid organizations for "handouts".

I think these are persuasive arguments for bothering with fair trade.

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