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Send love to Mum; A Gift with a Story

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Send love to Mum; a gift with a story

Author: Cynthia Cheong

Secretary, Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand

W e want to express our love to our Mums every day when we can. But on that one special Sunday every year, we celebrate as a nation to honour Mums. Mother’s Day will be celebrated on Sunday 10 May 2020. With the lockdown restrictions to protect Australians from COVID-19, Mother’s Day will be a quiet affair with many internet calls around the country to wish Mum a Happy Mother’s Day.

In Australia, we have the luxury of technology and access to online shopping at our fingertips. You might be thinking about what special gift you can get Mum. Can we interest you in considering getting Mum a gift that comes with a story?  A story of empowering another Mum. Mums in many poor countries are often the ones working tirelessly to feed the family. We will probably never fully understand what it means to go hungry. With delivery takeaways available and grocery shops close by, access to food is taken for granted. That’s why in recent times in Australia we saw ridiculous shortages of toilet paper instead of food.

Mums in poorer nations learn vocational skills like sewing, knitting, crocheting, jewellery-making, farming and other life-long skills that generate income to help their families survive. While we have the opportunity to see these skills as hobbies, the poor need such skills to survive and thrive.

Of the approximately one million livelihoods impacted by the Fair Trade Movement globally, 74% are women. 54% of senior roles in Fair Trade enterprises are held by women*, many of whom are mothers.

This year our Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand would like to present to you our Mother’s Day shopping guide. We want to present gift ideas that come with stories. All fair trade businesses listed in the shopping guide work closely with disadvantaged communities, many located in third world nations. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit many of the poorer nations. With a standstill in economic activity and tourism, these nations are not able to provide the same government support to their people as in Australia. Many citizens living below the poverty line are the hardest hit with limited access to basic needs like food.

In times of unprecedented changes, our Association is standing in solidarity with fair trade businesses in Australia already hit by the impacts of bushfires, floods and now COVID-19. We believe in the positive difference these fair trade businesses make. They are doing all they can to not just ensure their business survive but their artisans and producer partners can be sustained through this incredibly challenging period. 

There are many stories of impact and here’s one.

Khmer Anusa, based in Phnom Penh

One of the Association’s endorsed Fair Trader’s, The Elephant Emporium, works directly with small groups across Cambodia and Northern Thailand. Their business ethos is about reducing waste on the environment by transforming traditional waste material into recycled fair trade fashion accessories.

One of the small groups they work with, Khmer Anusa, based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia makes bags out of discarded fish feed bags. The founder, Sinareat, lovingly called as Auntie by all who know her, runs a cooperative from her home employing eight women. With the support of The Elephant Emporium, Sinareat is able to provide each woman a sewing machine and tools required to make the recycled bags and accessories. She is also able to provide flexible working arrangement to work from home for those with young children. The women work five days a week with no more than eight hours per day with breaks during the day.

The positive impact of fair trade businesses change the course of the future of disadvantaged communities. In this story, the Elephant Emporium has worked with Sinareat for over 10 years and provides 60% of Sinareat’s total income. This has enabled Sinareat to provide a better education for her daughter La’Ti who recently found a full-time position in a large retail store in the city of Phnom Penh. The women employed by Sinareat, who were once in abject poverty, can now provide more than the basics to their own families and are even able to start a savings account. This is essential for such unprecedented times as there are no government handouts or stimulus packages to assist the citizens.

The majority of the Australian-based fair trade businesses in our shopping guide work with women. When the basic necessities like food and shelter are met, women work towards educating their family and managing the finances.

With a wide selection of fair trade gifts, we hope you will take time to browse through the catalogue and follow the product links to learn more about the sellers and their skilled partners. Let’s support fair trade businesses based in Australia who are doing good in poorer nations and empowering Mums around the world.

* Source: WFTO website https://wfto.com

Sinereat’s Daughter La’Ti with a discarded Fish Feed Bag.                           

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