The Power of Fairtrade

Some might say that this is a rather grand title for our second blog! But we at Koolskools have no doubt about the power of Fairtrade.

Why are we so convinced and passionate that the Koolskools ethical clothing project can make a real difference to very poor people’s lives in developing countries?

Let me tell you a story as an example of why, if you buy a Koolskools garment, you can be sure that your in-built contribution to the Fairtrade chain through that purchase will have a disproportionately positive effect on someone’s life in a poor part of the world.

Fairtrade Making a Difference

When I was working in the British Embassy in the Dominican Republic, we decided to pledge £20,000 of our Embassy small projects fund to support a project to buy new water pumps – and repair existing ones – for a grouping of about a dozen and a half villages with an overall population of about 63,000 people in the very under-developed South Western region of the country, Barahona. The proposal and matching funds were submitted to us by the local office of the highly reputable British Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Plan International.

In the middle of most of those Barahona villages were deep water wells. Over the years the pumps working those wells had fallen into a state of disrepair, to the extent that the villagers had to journey outside the villages, often for several kilometres and on foot, to fetch their water.

With Embassy and crucial local community support and “buy-in”, Plan International implemented a two-pronged project for the purchase and installation of new pumps for about half of those villages, together with a repair and on-going maintenance training programme for those wells that could be regenerated. Most of those trained on maintenance were women, as they were the wells’ most frequent users!

Very soon, those 63,000 people in Barahona were enjoying significant economic and social benefits for what was a relatively low investment on the part of the Embassy and Plan International. The local community embraced the project, and the fully functioning water wells not only had an immediate positive impact on the local economy – less time was spent by everyone in sourcing life’s most precious commodity – but also on education. All of a sudden, school attendance levels went up. Before the pumps were replaced or repaired, if both parents were working then their children would often be despatched with the water containers to walk the several kilometres to fetch water during school time. So school attendance levels suddenly improved too!

This is just one micro-example of how communities in developing countries can make huge economic and social progress if they have that “little bit extra”. When you make a Fairtrade purchase, you are in effect offering such communities that developmental lifeline.

So please, try to persuade your school, charity or corporate entity to consider Koolskools Fairtrade cotton clothing. You really can make a difference to people’s lives by doing so.

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