We began our unit hardly knowing anything about fair trade, what it was, or its purpose. So in our humanities class, we were introduced to a series featuring upper class, rich young adults from England that were taken to third world countries to experience for themselves, the hardships and labour that most third world country villagers have to endure to make their living wage.
A living wage is the money someone makes that they use to support their family and improve their well being. Unfortunately not everyone has the opportunity to make a sustainable amount of money, but the people who seem to suffer the most are villagers living in remote villages in third world countries. Big billion dollar industries take advantage of the villagers, in desperate need of money, by offering them a job. They gladly accept these jobs, but they hardly get any money, and usually work in harsh conditions without any protection. Their countries governments do not enforce rules that ensure the safety of workers.
Before the field trip, we made preparations, we wrote questions and made sure they were not emotional. When we arrived in the village it was full of crops and the sunlight burnt through our skin. It made us wonder, “How can the farmers work in this heat?” Next, we walked through the village while taking notes. When we arrived at the house of one of the farmer’s, we immediately separated ourselves in different groups. Some of us were asking questions about nature, some about economy, society, and also well-being. The other group was called the village-walkers, and we walked into the village with one of the farmers leading us and we asked questions about how they lived, about farming, and a lot more. We found out a lot of information, some we expected and the others we didn’t even imagine. We arrived back at school feeling satisfied with the information and observations that we gathered.
After the fair trade field trip excursion, most of the 8th graders concluded that these farmers were being treated fairly. These farmers are able to earn a living wage through growing a variety of crops throughout the year. These crops include, rice, papaya, nuts and cucumber, which are sold at a different prices, depending on their stage of development and as fuel prices increase. Farmers, who work on their land, own most of land.
The other source of income for the community was working in construction. From the different sources of income these farmers are able to live in a home, provide their children with education, own transportation, buy simple tools for planting and harvesting crops, to basically maintain a normal life. The government is playing an important role by assisting the farmers through providing them with seeds and fertilizers to ensure that these farmers are able to grow their crops throughout the year. Health is not a significant problem, as they are capable of paying their own health bills. Some things that need to be done to improve the community’s situation are in infrastructure, education for the farmers on environmental effects, and ensuring that there are safety regulations and building a larger school in the community. To ensure that fair trade has been practiced, it would be beneficial to revisit the community and interview more villagers.
Written by Alex Kathleen Sebastian, Izzie Isman and Alex Hill – Grade 8 Students