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Going bananas to trade fairly

Andrew Stone sees the start of a campaign to help 'ripped-off workers'

Every family now has their own house rather than having to share

THE Fairtrade Foundation opened the door to a different world on Monday (26 February) to launch this year’s Fairtrade Fortnight.

As snow fell across London at the start of the working week, a doorway opened on the Millennium Bridge revealing a scene from a banana farm in Panama. Meanwhile banana farmer Marcial Quintero invited passers-by to stop and learn more about the world of Fairtrade farmers.

Organisers hope that this fortnight will be as successful as last year’s, when more than 5,000 events were held in community centres, schools, workplaces and churches to raise awareness of the exploitation faced by some people as they produce food, drink and clothes that are sold in the UK.

Through the sale of more than £1.65 billion worth of Fairtrade products, 1.6 million farmers and workers from 74 developing countries receive a fair price for their goods. But, as Marcial explained to The War Cry, the number of people who benefit runs to millions more.

‘Fairtrade changes the life of the whole community,’ he says. ‘Every family now has their own house rather than having to share, and more children are now able to go to school.

‘Before joining Fairtrade we didn’t have enough money to put food on the table or send our children to school. The price we received per box wasn’t enough to cover our costs, and for 17 years the price didn’t change.’

Adam Gardner, communities campaigns manager at the Fairtrade Foundation, describes situations such as this as scandalous.

‘Fairtrade Fortnight will open doors for more producers like Marcial to break the stranglehold of poverty prices,’ he says. ‘Workers are being ripped off despite working hard to provide the products we love.’

Nobody likes to think that they are being ripped off in any area of life. If we are working, then we want to be paid a fair wage for a fair day’s work. Similarly, if we are buying a product or paying for someone to carry out some work for us, we don’t want to pay over the odds.

The challenge can sometimes be finding a person we can trust. We hear stories of scams, exploitation and con artists. Experiences have taught some that they can’t even trust those who are closest to them.

It is an age-old problem. Thousands of years ago, one writer offered a simple solution, stating: ‘It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans (Psalm 118:8 New International Version).

It is good advice to trust God, and people have benefited from following it through the centuries. Even if there are times when people we know let us down and betray us, we can put our trust in God and follow his leading in our lives. He will never let us down.

God wants to nurture, develop and protect us even if others fail us. He loves us too much ever to sell us short.

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