There is no beauty in the finest cloth if it makes hunger and unhappiness.
~ Mahatma Gandhi
A hundred times a day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend on the labours of other men.
~ Albert Einstein
Our Student Council group is selling Rafiki Chains. This is a part of the Me to We Foundation that has been working hard, for MANY years, to bring about positive change in the world. We were VERY excited to discover that we had an opportunity to help with the amazing work that Craig and Marc Keilburger have been doing for years now. And, the COOL part? They started out wanting to make a difference when THEY were kids too!
At first, we were a LITTLE disappointed to discover that these chains would cost us $10.00 EACH. They seemed like such SIMPLE chains to make … just a string of beads in a single strand. THAT’S when we started to delve DEEPER. We discovered that Rafiki means FRIEND in SWAHILI … and … even BETTER? EVERY chain that is PURCHASED helps to “break the chain of poverty” in the communities these chains are MADE in. MOST of the money goes right BACK to the community to help them with “school supplies, access to clean water, healthy meals, financial tools, and health care!”
THAT’S when FAIR TRADE popped into the conversation. We talked about being paid FAIRLY for the work that we ALL do. We began to wonder what in the world FAIR trade was … and why EVERYONE wasn’t getting paid fairly for the work that they do. We were EVEN shocked to discover, as we got FURTHER into our wonders, that something as HORRIBLE as CHILD labour exists in the world.
We found some great sites during our search to help us with our questions and an AMAZING post that was easy for us to understand, since we’re only seven and eight years old. It’s called F is for Fair Trade.
What follows are some of our reflections:
“Fair Trade gives farmers or whoever a fair price for the food, tea and other stuff they grow or make like fruits, peanuts, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, clothes and more. Fair Trade allows “sellers” to get enough money for food, medicine, clean water and shelter. It also helps stop child labour.” ~Mani
“Fair Trade is making sure that people in developing countries get a decent amount of money for the things they have worked very hard on. Fair trade is important because it can help to stop child labour. If you spend ten dollars you can buy a Rafiki necklace which means “friend chain”. It helps Mothers in developing countries afford education for their kids and clean water and safe food to eat. I think that people in developing countries should deserve to get a decent amount of cash. They deserve to live with clean water but unfortunately they cannot because not everything is Fair Trade. Some people in developing countries LIVE on Fair Trade. I think fair trade is a great idea.” ~Marcus
“Fair Trade is an important thing. Fair Trade is important because if somebody worked for three days making a whole purse you would not give them 25 cents. You would probably give them 25 dollars. Some kids that are poor get forced to work at the age of seven years old instead of going to school. People are paying lots for Rafiki chains. Five dollars goes to the Me to We foundation and five goes to the people who make them. People should get a fair amount of money for how much work they put into whatever they’re making. If I put lots of work into something and only got like 50 cents for it that wouldn’t be a fair trade.” ~Carter
“I think that Child Labour is just CRUEL! They work for no more than maybe ten or eleven dollars a week. I wonder what kind of parents would send their kids away for probably only like $175? Fair Trade is NOT something where farmers can make crops like honey, peanuts, coffee beans … anything you can farm … and they get only like 25 cents. That’s not fair to the farmers. So, Fair Trade makes sure the farmers get enough money to put food on their table. Children in Africa, Asia and a TON of other countries have ten year old kids working for free. That, my dear readers, is a GREAT example of CHILD LABOUR!” ~Oliver
“Did you know that MILLIONS of kids have to work in places like factories and other places? Did you know that there are five different kids of Rafiki chains? They are for food, health, water, education and income. I also wonder how long it takes to make a Rafiki chain. I would feel sad if I made something and it took me one or two months and I got five or ten dollars. I hope more people start doing Fair Trade.” ~Robert
“Did you know that some people put all their hard work into making a doll or food and all they get is a little amount of money? I really wonder why they spend so much time on things and get a little amount of money. Some children have to work but they get a little amount of money and the rest of the money goes to the parents or other people who don’t even do the work. I feel really sad that some parents do that to children. I wonder why some people don’t do Fair Trade. It is really rude.” ~Olivia
“Did you know that MILLIONS of children work full days? Fair Trade is getting a fair price for what you made or grew. Amazingly, 9924 TONNES of Fair Trade hot chocolate was drunk in the UK in 2011. 75% of Fair Trade producers are farmers. Surprisingly there are more than 4500 Fair Trade products with the FairTrade mark. I would feel like a slave if I had to work full days. I wonder if parents get slaved like children. I wish that more people would pay a fair amount of money for what they get.” ~Riley
“I, William, really think tourists that go to developing countries really should give more money to the people who make things. I do really wonder how long it’s going to take for almost all of Africa to develop. I know it is going to take a long time but I still wonder. Another wonder I have is why do people say “I will pay $4.00″ when something is $12.00. I just don’t think it’s fair. It’s really NOT fair. I learned through Fair Trade websites that Fair Trade is NOT charity, which I thought it was. But, I get it a LOT more now. When I learned about Rafiki necklaces/bracelets I was surprised they were $10.00. I was ripped off about that but when I learned more about it it was a GOOD deal. I just can’t wait until my Rafiki necklace gets here.” ~William
“Did you know that half of our Rafiki chain money goes to the Mamas that made them? Fair Trade is if you make or grow something that took you a day to make or grow you should not sell it for a dollar. It should be sold for at LEAST 17 or 25 dollars. Fair Trade products are selling in more than 120 countries now. I wonder how many countries are developing countries and how many are rich countries. Bad child labour is having to work ALL day! I wish that more people would get the amount of money they need!” ~Colby
“OK … so … Fair Trade all started when we were talking and learning about Rafiki Chains. Rafiki means friend. We have quite a few … uhh … facts and wonders! Fair Trade helps to make sure that working conditions are REALLY safe. Fair Trade can SURELY help to protect children and STOP child labour. Fair Trade helps developing countries. Fair Trade ISN’T charity. MILLIONS of farmers in Africa and Asia do NOT get Fair Trade for ALL the food they grow. I wish all the developing countries and also the wealthy countries would get Fair Trade. A LOT of people in developing countries can’t make a decent living because they have to sell their goods at such low prices.” ~Faith
“Why is Fair Trade important? Because millions of people across Africa, Asia and Latin America are getting a better deal and a better living because of fair trade. My wonder is if no one did Fair Trade would they stop making stuff? The people that make Rafikis … are they just girls? If it was a boy doing it, would the Rafikis be the same? In many different poor countries kids have to do grown up work. That’s child labour.” ~Shaye
“There are millions of farmers who don’t get Fair Trade for their crops in Africa and Asia. Fair Trade is not about charity. It’s about giving the right amount of money to the person. So, if I grow tomatoes and it took me three days and someone said I will give you one dollar for it … that’s not a fair trade. I wonder if I made a rainbow loom bracelet and it took me five hours how much money that would be?” ~Adam
“If kids work like six hours and they only make 30 cents that’s not even close to a fair trade. Fair Trade helps with living.” ~Liam
“What is a Rafiki? Rafiki is a Swahili word for “friends”. Can I be Rafiki? Certainly you can. You can buy a Rafiki friend chain AND you can buy as many Fair Trade items as you can!!!” ~Anita
“I feel so sorry for all those kids and adults that work so hard and don’t get a fair price. Think about it. All their hard work for such a little price. That’s not fair. Fair Trade is important because is helps people make a living. I wonder why someone would do such a thing … not giving someone a fair amount of money? Why? Why? WHY? I suggest that everyone should pay exactly, I repeat … EXACTLY the price the person who made the item needs. That is fair.” ~Marah
“Fair Trade is important because some people don’t get a fair price for the stuff they worked really hard on and also because they need money for their family. In school people are selling Rafikis and they don’t keep the money. They give it to the Mamas because they are the ones who made the Rafikis. If you do not know what child labour is … well … it is when children do a job at a young age. Some of them are lucky and they still get an education. One of my wonders is how did they come up with the Fair Trade symbol?” ~Aleah
“Children all over the world work hard for a living. A Rafiki chain is about helping women in Africa and a Rafiki is $10.00. I wonder how many kids do this child labour. I think Fair Trade is important.” ~Prayers
“I wonder if rich people can do anything? Some children are poor and they don’t have houses or food for themselves or their family. Some are forced to do work and some have no families. Some countries are really poor.” ~Roxanne
“I wonder if Fair Trade is like fair trade money. The Rafiki Chain: half of the money when you buy a Rafiki goes to the people who made them and the other half goes to the Me to We Foundation to help in other ways. Fair Trade is important because if you didn’t get Fair Trade you wouldn’t have enough money to feed your family and you will starve.” ~Haya
“Fair Trade is giving a fair amount of money. If someone takes five hours to make a doll or a drum or something then give them a fair price.” ~Alvin
“Fair Trade can be for coffee, rice, sugar, flowers, honey, vanilla and fresh fruit. Fair trade is something that when a person spent hours making something they will get a good deal when they sell it. In some countries there is not Fair Trade. So people will not have that much money.” ~Thomas
It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
The CHALLENGE is ON! We VOW to keep our EYES peeled for Fair Trade items being sold around us. We MIGHT even take PHOTOS of these items and add them to this post over time! We MAY be SMALL … but … TOGETHER? We can ALL make a difference!
- Do you try to buy “Fair Trade”? We’d LOVE to hear about it.
- Besides going to places like Ten Thousand Villages to buy Fair Trade goods, where ELSE can you find them in Calgary? *Since first writing this, we discovered a link to where you can purchase Fair Trade items in Calgary!
- Is there Child Labour in Canada?
- Is all our stuff made in factories in Canada? (Oh oh! Now we’re looking at our CLOTHING labels!)
Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones surround us every day.
~ Sally Koch