For The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT – A fair trade festival for a socially responsible shopping opportunity will be held July 11 from 3-6 p.m. and July 12 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Our Lady of Victory Parish. The parish’s Christian Service Ministry will sponsor the event.
Char McGovern, who chairs the Christian Service Committee, said she received a fair trade paper necklace from her daughter that a woman in Uganda made. “It is beautiful.” A couple of months later McGovern attended a fair trade event at St. Ann Parish in Long Grove. Later she attended a women’s program at Our Lady of Victory where the speaker talked about how fair trade helps decrease the need for people to immigrate or fall into human trafficking. McGovern’s interest in fair trade grew.
“The Holy Spirit was sending me a lot of hints and it just took me awhile to respond,” McGovern said.
Her committee met with Kent Ferris of the diocesan social action office to learn about fair trade.
The parish has been serving fair trade coffee at its monthly Social Sunday.
They learned that for more than a decade Catholic Relief Services has been working in partnership with the organization SERRV to help Catholics join the fair trade movement and to buy extraordinary, one-of-a-kind handcrafts from around the world.
With the help of these resources, the parish planned a fair trade festival that will offer chocolate, coffee-ground and whole bean coffee, tea, handmade jewelry, baskets, linens, cocoa, olive oil, soaps and other items for purchase. “Many of the items are made only with recycled materials.” Catalogs are available for items not on display.
Direct trade coffee from Juan Ana coffee of San Lucas Mission in Guatemala will available. Recycled paper necklaces and bracelets from Project Lydia, an economic development project that lifts women out of the worst of poverty and restores purpose, hope and dignity will be available too, McGovern said.
The goal of fair trade is to empower low-income artisans and farmers to better their conditions. Fair trade demonstrates a dual concern for the environment and the people who rely on it for their livelihoods. It helps farmers achieve the balance with the environment that they are seeking by providing technical assistance and encourages adoption of shade-growing techniques that maintain soil quality.
CRS Fair Trade works to ensure that the coffee trade connects disadvantaged coffee farmers with mission-driven coffee companies to bring fairly traded coffee to consumers. More than 100 million people in Africa, Asia and Latin American depend on coffee farming for their livelihoods. Most coffee is grown the old-fashioned way, handpicked on small-scale family farms. Fair trade companies work to build direct relationships with farmers based on principles of fairness, mutual respect and long-term commitment. “The money we pay for fair trade coffee contributes to positive changes in the communities where it is grown.”
If coffee is not “your cup of tea” perhaps chocolate is, she said. CRS Fair Trade chocolate is provided by Divine Chocolate, made exclusively with certified cocoa grown by farmers of the Kuapa Kokoo cooperative in Ghana. Those farmers are paid a fair price for the cocoa necessary to make Divine chocolate. “It has already enabled the region to support its community through water projects, school construction and income-generating projects such as soap making.”
Our Lady of Victory believes that fair trade “offers respect for the hard work of talented people. It provides a sustainable way of life for developing communities. Fair trade is anti-slavery and anti-child labor. It supports the conservation of the environment and it provides a safe and healthy working environment for employees. Fair trade empowers women and minorities. SERRV adheres to a set of international fair trade principles including fair pay, safe working conditions, the rights of children, dignity and care for all of God’s creation,” McGovern said.
“When you purchase fair trade products, you are living out the Gospel call to care for the poor … when you purchase fair trade products you are standing in solidarity with our brothers and sisters around the world.”
Her personal goal is to try to sell fair trade items during every Social Sunday and to host one large-scale event annually.“When I think of the people we are helping, it warms my heart.”