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 Fair Trade: you CAN make a difference.

The world has never been so advanced. Earth is richer more developed than ever before, people like you and me are a hop and a skip away from an endless food supply, ready made clothes and creature comforts. Wealthy business people rule the western world, looking down on us from their sparkling sky scrapers. Even the people on the ground have a cushy life, alright, they have to work more, do more but they still earn more than others. We all have money, few of us have been shadowed by crushing poverty, or had to fight against starvation and disease every waking second. Why is this? Well some people say the world is built on losers not winners. People who have lost everything to the debtors, the people smugglers and the businessmen; the people of third world countries.

Can you imagine it? Waking up in a crumbling, stinking shack, bodies of your brothers and sisters pressing in like the overwhelming hopelessness of your situation. There’s no breakfast, just a cup of murky water, no parents, like so many others they’re killed by aids and HIV. Barely 10 and you have to look after and feed 6 other brothers and sisters no time to have a fun childhood. Your lucky though, there’s work on a coffee plantation, every day toiling under the punishing African sun, long hours no food and what’s the pay? Barely enough to feed a rat let alone a whole family. Yet it goes on, this exact situation replayed over and over again. For people like this life isn’t hell it’s worse than that.

This may sound familiar, I have seen poverty in Hong Kong, no doubt you have also seen it in Africa but on TV it seems so far away, how can we make poverty history in our daily lives? This is where Fair Trade comes in, a vast majority of the food you eat the clothes you wear, are made by impoverished people slaving away for virtually no reward. Don’t worry I’m not going to order you to burn your clothes and go on hunger strike. Quite the opposite, I encourage you to buy more and eat more…as long as it’s all fair trade. The reason being, fair trade goods cut out the middle man, they ignore the pencil pushing paper stackers who take a big cut of money just because they stacked the crates in a nice neat pile. Fair Trade consumers buy directly from the producers, in this situation, the coffee picker gets a fair, unchanged price for his/her goods.

As you can imagine by just paying a little extra we can make lives better. By uniting in the name of fair trade we can make a difference every time we step out of the door, people of Africa receive a better source of money than the political promises. Best of all the possibilities go on, massive fair trade selling events, all clothes, food at your school and city fair trade. And that’s why you can make a difference, organize events in your community, create a fair trade steering group at school. Together we can make poverty history.

Do you agree?

Matthew, 15, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, UK (November 2007)

Write your response here


Long-distance Murder

By Emma, 12, Gloucestershire, UK

I have seen people dying in worlds we don't even think about. If you reading this are from South America, Africa, the Philippines or places like that, you may have seen them too. I have never been further from England than Spain, but I see them in my head. Sometimes it makes me cry that nobody is doing anything to help them!!!
I blame the G8. They are totally not helping! Did you know that every three seconds, a child starves to death! Moves are being made, but they are just too small.
It seems so unfair that some people have money to burn, while others don't even have enough to live. I am so lucky, and so are you, probably - either you have a computer or you go to a school with computers. I do both. I am in near the top of the luck pyramid, and it just seems normal to me.
If you want to help, here's what you can do;

- Make a donation to Christian Aid or a similar charity.
- Buy Fair Trade items when possible.
- Make it known that the world needs help!

If you don't do anything, I'm sorry, but you may become a long-distance murderer.
(November 2007)

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