Conversations with myself: Things we need to know. South countries and Fair Trade.

Pari, 6, fills up empty cigarettes manually with locally grown tobacco as she works in a small bidi (cigarette) factory at Haragach in Rangpur district, Bangladesh. PHOTO: Andrew Biraj /Reuters

Pari, 6, fills up empty cigarettes manually with locally grown tobacco as she works in a small bidi (cigarette) factory at Haragach in Rangpur district, Bangladesh. PHOTO: Andrew Biraj /Reuters

We watch movies about Africa and most of us wish to get there and save the abandoned children. To give to them love, education, food and attention. To make them feel happy, to try to change something in their world. But most of us we don’t get to Africa and we comfort ourselves with the thought we want but we can’t. We comfort with the thoughts we are compassionate people, that we care about those poor and helpless people but our possibilities are not enough to do something. And we give up. With compassion.

I don’t deny the need of the children from Africa or any other poor south countries to receive help, to have people them to show they are not forgotten. But running as a volunteer in Africa you will succeed to treat the consequences and not the cause. You will not be able to change the system. We all dream to do this, but let’s face it it’s not so easy.  Because we look at the problem from her difficult angle. But in lack of courage, money or any other resources, we can try to change bit by bit our mentality. Because our mentality is one of the wheels that keeps poverty alive. And even if your actions cannot change the world, you can be part of the switch that changes the direction.

Let’s talk about consumption. We live in a consumption society where the luxury is apreciated as a proof of the superiority. Nice clothes, nice restaurants, nice vacations, nice houses and nice cars. All these are still the proof we are something, that we are better than others. The most I have, the most I succeeded in my life. We look to India’s castes and we don’t realize we do the same in our civilized countries: splitting ourselves through money, education. We build castes on the level of IQ.

Coming back to comsumption, how many times you buy a product knowing what stands behind him? How many times you turn back to the people that are woking for your Zara clothes 20 hours per day? You think it,s exaggerate? Not really. And you know it. Only you prefer to don’t see. Would you still buy the coffee from the market if you know are children working for you to have it? Maybe not. Maybe yes. But it’s still sad. Maybe you think you cannot compare with those people, that this is life and we cannot evolve trying to be equal. Well..depends what evolving means, no?

Solution is not to give up to your house and live hub. To eat only potatoes and bread. Or to don’t buy clothes anymore. To live sad for the poverty in the world.

tumblr_m57dexGt7L1rt34fxo1_500_large

But I say:

  • Don’t turn back and know! Discover! Discover the real world you live in and not only you want to know.

Discover how are made the clothes you wear, rice you buy, your children toys.

For example, Blood, Sweat and T-shirts and Blood, Sweat and Luxuries are some documentaries from BBC Three about 6 young people from Britain who are travelling to Africa and Asia to live and work together with the locals. They are showing how the clothes that are sold on the high streets of London are done, or how electronics or other luxury products are made. I am not very interested in the drama those 6. Sometimes are crying, sometimes are oripilated. Honestly, I am interested to see a world I don’t know, that I thought I know. I am interested to know what is behind my favorites clothes, the ones that makes me happy. We all think we know but we don’t. What we see on Tv is just a scratch on your eye. But better than nothing.

According to a 2012 study by US-based NGO, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, over 45,000 people in Bangladesh are employed in manufacturing inexpensive cigarettes known as bidis and this number includes “many women and children working in household based establishments where they make low wages and live in poverty.” A 2011 research paper about bidi workers in Bangladesh, published in the journal Tobacco Control, says that working conditions can involve poor ventilation and exposure to tobacco dust, which can cause a range of health problems including respiratory and skin diseases.

And this is just an example, the Internet is full of them.

How your clothes are done

How your clothes are done

Let’s know for real. Let’s know that besides the very few money these people are receving, they work in dirty places with bad smell and lack of hygene. There are people sleeping in the same room where they’re working. For whom work became house and family.  People who share with other 10 2 square meters. People who don’t afford staying with their families because they need to work…every day..15-18 hours per day.  People for who buying a bag of 3000 euros it’s probably the most inutile and hard to understand thing in the world.

garment factory workers transportation
….going to “job”
  • Africa. Stories now and then.

The other days I was reading an article about a young man from Liberia. His name is Nyanthen Charles and lives in my country. When he was 8 years old, in Liberia started the war and transformed his life from childhood to nightmare.

“I was 15 years old. Three months after I got the the orphanage, the rebels came to attack us. What I saw then, I will never be able to forget… They were sitting at tables and eating human bodies, human body pieces…A general stoppes me and gave me to drink juice, dar..it was not juice, it was blood. He told me to don’t split it, otherwise he will kill me. You know, in that war, if you were shot, it was good. But they were cutting you alive, cutting pieces of your body and let you suffer until dying. They were taking out intestines of the people in front of us. So, if they were telling you to drink, it was more like a favor. So I drank. Also that time, I saw a pregnant women that the rebels were asking her if she has a boy or a girl. She tried to escape but the rebels cut her and took out the baby from her, and one if the soldiers asked to eat the baby. That was the real face of the war”

His darkest memeory is when he had to kill his childhood friend, at the rebels orders.

He is and adult of my age, like me and you. It didn’t happen 60 years ago. It happen while us, in our civilized countries we were going to malls or to eata  pizza with our friends.

Some movies about Africa:

— > Hotel Rwanda

— > Beyond Gates

— > Machine Gun Preacher

  • Check how much you really need

The workers from India, Ghana or other south counties are part of a world sustained by us, the consumers. A world created by the greed of the big chains in the world, from clothes, to phones, gas or luxury products. I don’t want to write about how awful are these companies or what political games stands behind them. They chose a profit strategy and we live in a free world where even cruelty, not caring and selfishness are allowed to be. So I don’t want to throw the rock in this. But let’s think about our choices. At least the ones we can afford different changes.

We all have needs, pleasures and I don’t think we need to become poor and sacrifice our lifes for the poor ones. But on the other hand, I think we consume much more than we need and we throw too many things too quickly. Buying became a pleasure, a reason of our happiness. We are not anymore satisfied with little, we feel poor and inferiors if we so. We feel we are not evolving.

sainsbos_1246047c

We can choose to buy less than we think we need. We can change our mentality from a shopping society to a society who cares. If there would be less and less people who are buying diamonds, if there is no more market request for them, would it exist anymore the slavery for diamonds? Remember Blood Diamond movie, no? You think a diamond doesn’t matter? Probably all the others thousands of people that are buying it are thinking the same. Waiting to see the people in Africa working in 5 star conditions to get your diamond will not happen. Don’t wait for others and be the change you want to see in the world. Just don’t buy it!

I am sure not everybody wants or can. But I can. And I don’t have to change the world. But I want to live my life in responsability and caring.

  • Fair Trade. 

Fair trade

Fair Trade is the reason I drink my coffe from Starbucks. 😛

Fair trade is an organized social movement that aims to help producers in developing countries to make better trading conditions and promote sustainability. It advocates the payment of a higher price to exporters as well as higher social and environmental standards. It focuses in particular on exports from developing countries to developed countries, most notably handicrafts, coffee, cocoa, sugar, tea, bananas, honey, cotton, wine, fresh fruit, chocolate, flowers, and gold.

The current fair trade movement was shaped in Europe in the 1960s.

If you like coffee, following are coffee roasters and companies that offer fair trade coffee or some roasts that are fair trade certified:

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters
Starbucks
Equal Exchange
Pura Vida Coffee
Larry’s Beans
Katz Coffee
Invalsa Coffee Importers
Café Xaragua

Following are companies that use fair trade production and/or distribution techniques for clothing and textiles:
Maggie’s Organics
Cherie Amie
Ten Thousand Villages
prAna
HAE Now
Good & Fair Clothing Co.
Fair Indigo
Indigenous
American Apparel
Y’abal Handicrafts

Hmmm, no Zara or Chanel on the list.

It’s difficult to track how much money are going back to the thirld world and for sure even Fair Trade is not succeeding all the time its purpose. But better than nothing.

Let’s try to sustain the Fair Trade. If we don’t ask, we don’t receive. If we don’t know, we don’t ask.

world-fair-trade-day-logo

Even if I don’t go to Africa to take care of the sick children, I can do something from my little world. Life doesn’t seem right after you watch some movies about Africa. It becomes strange to be happy of your luxury when you see there are children working for you to have it. Doesn’t seem right to leave full of bags from Zara and H&M when I know there are people working in the worst conditions for me to have those clothes. Maybe the dress I wear is made by a girl who has never bouht a nice dress in her life, who never went to a date wearing her fabulous dress.

But I choose to care. When I can, how I can.

I choose to don’t run after things and ask myself If I really need some of them.

I choose to don’t leave from a hypermarket full of bags, most of them not being necessary and maybe sometimes forgotten in the fridge.

I choose to don’t go to shopping every time I have free time,  lying to myself I do it to relax.

I choose luxury doesn’t mean happiness for me.

I choose to buy more local products instead of made in China or India. To buy Fair Trade when I find.

I choose to don’t turn back and think there is nothing I can do.

I choose to see.

farmer-cocoa

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