Below is an article written by one of our volunteers in the Everyday Justice Everyday Choices ministry in our church … worth thinking about.
"In the last 30 years, the distribution of labor to developing countries has altered the global economic landscape, bringing a myriad of products to our country at very low prices. Interestingly, as consumers, it seems normal to think of our everyday food and clothing as well removed from the very farms and factory workers who labor meet our demands. In reality, our purchase choices, from a new t-shirt to a bar of chocolate, all have far reaching ramifications for the lives and wellbeing of people all over the world.
Sadly, the developing countries that work to produce our goods are often rife with unjust trading regimes. In particular, the prices that producers receive for their goods are often inadequate, and not representative of the quality and duration of the labor that has been put in to produce them. Coffee and cocoa farms are usually run as small independent businesses. Their produce is subsequently marketed and sold through local cooperatives. For these producers, access to market or price information is often very difficult and as a result, many of these small farmers either sell at unfair prices or become increasingly dependent on middlemen, thus receiving progressively smaller income for their work. These workers are also at the mercy of international economics, which can cause the price of their goods to fall dramatically, without warning. Such unexpected circumstances can impact widely on the workers and their families. It can mean tragedy and devastation for already struggling families causing even basic necessities such as food and education to be extremely difficult to obtain. This is something which should be a deep concern to us as Christians.
The Fair Trade movement provides an answer to all of us who seek justice and economic equality for these people. It aims to provide substantial solutions and support for underprivileged workers and their families. Based on the principles of dialogue, transparency and respect, the Fair Trade movement contributes to sustainable development by offering fairer prices, improved working conditions and fair terms of trade for marginalized producers and workers, farms and communities. Fair Trade acts as an alternative to traditional charity efforts. By empowering workers and farmers, the Movement’s intent is to assist them to develop necessary business skills to compete in the global marketplace and help them move from a position of vulnerability and risk to having increased self-sufficiency and economic security.
In 2006, Christian World Service (CWS) and Trade Aid launched an initiative inviting churches to formalize their support of Fair Trade by making a formal agreement and declaring themselves a 'Fair Trade Church.' Becoming a Fair Trade church is a tangible way for us to support communities in developing countries. To do this our Church must commit to use Fair Trade tea and coffee after services and in all meetings, move forward on using other Fair Trade products such as sugar, biscuits and fruit and promote Fair Trade during Fair Trade Fortnight and during the year through events, worship and other activities whenever possible. It is our hope that through becoming a Fair Trade Church we can support God’s mission to lift disadvantaged people from all over the world out of poverty and injustice."
“The fields of the poor may produce abundant fruit but injustice sweeps it away.”(Proverbs 13:23)