The Fair Trade movement advocates the payment of “fair,” generally meaning higher, wages for producers in developing countries and higher social and environmental standards. Essentially, it seeks equity, not exploitation, in international trade. The theme of this year’s World Fair Trade Day is “Fair Trade People,” so we’ve included a guest post from one of our partners, Robert Mwehe, who describes some of the trials, tribulations and rewards of fair trade with the women of Mt. Kasigau.
“Yesterday I happened to go to Taveta, a border town near Tanzania. I had gone for the purpose of getting sisal for the women…
The highlight of my visit, however, was my stay with the daughter of one of the basket weavers. She was asking how I do my work with the women and how it all begun. In the midst of our discussion, she said, “You are doing something wonderful for our mothers. Now, at the very least, they don’t depend on us to send them money. Robert, you know we have responsibilities of our own. Now, with what you are doing, we are becoming more free to build our own families.” It never hit me how much influence the baskets are having on not just the women in Kasigau, but to their sons and daughters who do not live within Kasigau. Traditionally, though not obligated, the children do support their parents, financially or by however means the parent might be in need of. When she said how much relief she gets from actually helping her, I wondered how many other women’s children are relieved of such financial obligations from their parents by the very basket you buy in London, the States, Canada and hopefully, Australia.
The chain effect is long, longer than I, and most probably you, ever thought of. I was tired yesterday, dog tired. However, the knowledge that I am doing more than I initially anticipated was worth all the fatigue and pain of travelling 3 hours standing on a bus with a swollen foot caused by two bee stings. It is worth having to figure out how the four large bails of sisal will be transported to Kasigau, despite the government’s directive of no luggage on matatu roofs. We are doing more than we initially anticipated. It might not seem much, but in essence, by buying a Kasigau basket, you are helping a family allocate more money to family development, money that may have been sent back to the women in Kasigau. We are doing something good for countless families not only in Kasigau, but pretty much all over Kenya.”
You can read more about Robert's work with the Kasigau basket weavers on his blog