Elizabeth Whitwick, Fairtrade Headington:
When business is slow at The Windmill, most of the time the thought that buoys us up is that the sale of just one bar of chocolate, bag of coffee, pack of sugar is a lifeline to someone we are most probably never going to meet.
But just once in a while one of the people at the end of that lifeline walks through the door. Last year Monica Dadzie, head of Kuapa Kokoo’s gender programme, did just that. The Kuapa Kokoo Co-operative of cocoa farmers in Ghana own 45 per cent of the Divine Chocolate Company. Divine is the only Fairtrade chocolate company to have such a large percentage of the company owned by the cocoa farmers.
Monica had just arrived in England on her first visit to Europe and for the first time ever she saw Divine chocolate on sale. She stood in front of the shelves and quietly wept with joy.
Given that direct contact with producers is so rare, why do so many of us give so much time to supporting and promoting Fairtrade?
For many people of faith the exhortation to love our neighbour does not just apply to the folk who live next door. In a globalised world how we make decisions that impact on our neighbours worldwide is something we can’t ignore.
There’s a lot in the Bible that speaks against treating people badly in work, in trade and in financial dealings; more, for instance, than there is about sexual misconduct.
Injustice in trade is roundly condemned: ‘A poor man’s field may produce an abundant harvest but injustice sweeps it away.’ Proverbs 13:23.
Christian faith has to be seen in action – how else can you tell if it really exists or is just an outward show? Love for other people is one of the hallmarks of a Christian, and love shows itself in what you do.
The scales in international trade are heavily weighted in favour of companies and countries that already hold the power and the wealth. For various reasons these institutions and corporations are usually very loathe to loosen their grip on power and profit. So can anything be done?
Every purchase of a fairly traded product makes a small contribution to the improvement in the quality of life for people further along the trading chain.
Taken together, many such purchases can influence even the powerful of this world.
It truly is transforming the lives of millions of poor people.