Saturday, March 6, 2010

Letter from Siham Craftlink

Fair Trade Journey,

We have returned!!

We have seen so much, we have learnt so much and carry so much in our hearts . Over time I will be sharing stories about the different fair trade producer groups we visited in Thailand, Bangladesh and India, sharing personal stories about some of the very special and talented artisans and also some of our adventure!

My plan is that approximately every two weeks I will be sending you a story with photographs. This will also be going up on my blog on my website. Between the four travellers , we have taken thousands of photos , so when we have had time to download them all and sort through them, there will also be photos that you will be able to use for promotion.

A lot of the fun was sourcing new items. Thankyou to everyone who gave me ideas of what to look for and also ideas as to what is "trendy" in todays market. I dont think you will be disappointed. An amazing array of new items will be filtering through during the year. A big emphasis of what I am buying is in the homeware range. I dont like to miss anything and it was such fun checking out samples in ancient looking old cupboards.( often by candlelight as there is frequent power shedding in Bangladesh and we always seemed to be running behind schedule – of course this was always my fault!! ) Bagdha and Japobar producer groups are in the Barisal area of Bangladesh ( seven hours drive each way , plus a half hour ferry ride over a very wide river from the capital Dhaka) And not to mention the last two kilometres in a rickshaw cart jumping up and down over dusty and stony pathways , waving to the village children as the hysterical four Aussies hung on for their lives! It feels like travelling to the remotest parts of the earth to source the richness of fair trade crafts. When we called into one village, many of the people hadn’t seen white people before, so perhaps we did travel to one of the four ends of the world!

I have come back appreciating immensely the importance of keeping sustainable markets open for the artisans. Every artisan desperately needs continuous work ( which is one of the ideals/ ethics of fair trade) and I want to thank you on behalf of the artisans for keeping this lifeline open . With the recession last year many producers for Corr the Jute Works did not receive orders. This organization was in a position to train many of these otherwise unemployed women into sewing jute bags , an area of high demand at present. Not every fair trade organization is in this position.

It was a joy sitting with the artisans, laughing with them and seeing at the grassroots level the magic of their skilled hands and the happiness on their faces because they have the opportunity to work under fair trade standards. I look forward to sharing so many stories.

Warmest regards

Siham Craftlink Pty Ltd

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