Fair Trade Fair brings wares with colors, stories, and a conscience
"I dream of providing a better life for my daughter. I want her to be a professional," Diega Churunel Quisquina, a 32-year-old single mother near Solola, Guatemala, said for a Mayan Hands newsletter.
Quisquina supports her family with the purses and jewelry she makes and sells, primarily through Mayan Hands, an organization that partners with weavers in the highlands of Guatemala to help them out of poverty and toward self-sufficiency.
Mayan Hands is one of nine vendor organizations brought together 18 event at the Fellowship Building on . All of the vendors commit to following the core principles of fair trade, a strategy to promote sustainable development and alleviate poverty. Members of the Fair Trade Federation are expected to place the interests of producers and their communities at the forefront of their enterprise. They agree to work with transparency and accountability, pay promptly and fairly, and develop producers' independence.
They also agree to respect cultural identities, protect the rights of children, and promote safe and healthy work environments.
For thousands of years, Mayan women have woven intricate textiles for their families and trade using back strap looms. They are renowned for their skills and complex patterns, some of which may take and hour to weave an inch. With nearly a million weavers in Guatemala and not enough outlets for their products, many of the cash-strapped women live in poverty. Mayan Hands' mission is to help the weavers earn a modest and regular income with which they can feed their families better, send their children to school, and gain control over their lives.
Representatives of other organizations with similar goals will bring goods from other parts of South America, the Middle East, Africa, India, and Asia to the fair.
This Fair Trade Fair like many others around the country, grew out of a Sunday morning talk.
"A teacher spoke about her work with a woman's college in Ethiopia and solicited books for the college's sparse library," Janice Goodell, one of the fair's organizers, told the Press. "She also sold jewelry made by mothers who supported their daughters' education from the jewelry."
The fair can also be inspirational. Last year, middle schoolers who were helping at the fair learned about the Sharing Foundation's programs in Cambodia. By selling baked goods and used books at a winter yard sale, the students raised $600, enough to send two Cambodian teenagers to high school.