The theme for this year’s Fairtrade Fortnight is “Sit down for breakfast and stand up for farmers.”
“BEFORE YOU FINISH EATING BREAKFAST IN THE MORNING, YOU’VE DEPENDED ON MORE THAN HALF THE WORLD.”
Martin Luther King.
But what didn’t he say?
THERE ARE TIMES OF THE YEAR WHEN MANY PEOPLE IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES WHO GROW THE FOOD WE EAT CAN’T FEED THEIR OWN FAMILIES.
Shocking, isn’t it?
THE PROBLEM IS SO COMMON THAT FARMERS AND WORKERS AROUND THE WORLD HAVE DIFFERENT NAMES FOR IT………..
THE SEASON OF HUNGER
THE TIME OF SILENCE
THE THIN MONTHS
THE MONTHS OF THE BIG STOMACH
THE HUNGRY MONTHS
THE MONTHS OF WATER
Millions of farmers and workers in developing countries who work hard every day to grow the food we eat still don’t earn enough to put food on the table throughout the year. In other words they do not have food security.
There is no guarantee of food security in many parts of the world. For example in coffee-growing communities there may not be enough food available for up to 5 months of the year. It is so common that in Latin America it has its own name – the Thin Months.
It happens in the period between harvests when payment received for the previous crop has run out. It may also coincide with higher local food prices.
It can mean parents missing meals so children can eat, or women missing meals so men can eat.
It may mean deciding between continuing to send children to school or the family missing meals, and this can lead to children not being able to concentrate at school because they are hungry.
It may mean if someone in the family is ill then it’s a choice between paying for treatment and eating!
There is enough food in the world for everyone. But with farmers and workers often earning so little they simply can’t afford to buy food all year round.
Fairtrade works to change this by making sure companies pay a fair price for what people grow, plus a little extra – the Fairtrade Premium – for producers to invest in their communities and businesses.
When people receive a fair price they can take more control of their lives when times are hard and worry less about how to feed their families.
Fairtrade means that many farmers and workers are able to do what we take for granted – put enough food on the table throughout the year.
Prayer – we each chose either Fairtrade chocolate or a Fairtrade banana and then we prayed for people who are hungry due to food insecurity. It is estimated that 795 million people are undernourished globally.
Rozina Begum, a tea farmer in Bangladesh, tells the story of how Traidcraft and tea plants have helped her to make her dreams become a reality.
“From my childhood I knew that poor people had only one dream which is to be able to eat three times a day. I dreamt the same. I thought I would get to eat if I could get married to someone. I got married when I was thirteen. My mother-in-law had five sons including my husband. My father-in-law died when my youngest brother-in-law was just five. My in-laws were in terrible poverty; a kind of poverty which is not describable in words. When the men of the house were seated to eat, my heart kept on trembling and I was worried they would ask us to get one more spoonful of rice. I would have to tell them that there was no more rice in the pot. When my husband used to ask me if I had eaten, I reluctantly nodded my head so he would not know that my mother-in-law and I ate only once a day.
I had only one Saree that I had to wash at night when everyone went to sleep. Sometimes I wore the wet Saree while sleeping. Even after working in people’s houses my mother-in-law and my husband could not manage to bring food back to our home. Our bamboo hut could not stop the winter’s cold breezes from coming inside. There were no beds and we kept freezing on the mud floor. In the rainy season we got wet sitting inside our only shelter and all of us remained quiet about that situation.
My youngest brother-in-law Faruk fell ill when he was 10. The family could not afford treatment and so Faruk died, but poverty did not. We had no ducks no hens no cows or any furniture. We were fighting against poverty with empty hands.
After that I got pregnant with our eldest daughter. I often went to sleep after starving a whole day. My husband used to give me courage saying that one day our days would change. I left my daughter at home with my mother-in-law and both my husband and I started working as labourers in tea gardens. Together we could earn about £1.15 a day.
We got to know that there is profit in tea planting. I heard about Traidcraft. My husband and I decided to use our land for growing tea plants. Our soil is very good for tea planting. I received six training sessions from Traidcraft. We are now able to see the face of happiness. Now we have electricity. We built a house and we built a kitchen. I have hens and ducks and five cows. Everything has changed miraculously. The tea plant is a miracle in our life. Now we have beds to sleep in. My mother-in- law has a separate room. I bought a tea pot and nicely decorated the room. Now I can buy a Saree when I wish. My daughter is going to school.
My self-esteem and willpower have multiplied many times now. I am confident about my success and inspire to do more. I am one of the elected women members of our small tea growers association. I not only dream about myself and my family, I also think about my community. I want more people to be self-sufficient so no one goes to sleep with an empty stomach. Now people look at me with respect. They say though I had neither education nor experience I become one of their heroes. That makes me very proud. I want to educate my children and believe one day they will come forward to bring hope to the hopeless. My dream has come true, poverty can be defeated.”
We shared bread and wine thinking about the feast that all are welcomed to.
Closing prayer was taken from the Church action guide from the Fairtrade Foundation.