By Nadia Maria Smith
CS&T Staff Writer
For many this year, fair trade items will be part of Christmas gift giving.
That’s because fair trade crafts, jewelry, chocolate, coffee and teas are gifts that give twice.
“You give to the person who you buy the gift for and the one that produced it,” said Joanne Kratz, a Catholic Relief Services Fair Trade Ambassador and member of St. Maria Goretti Parish in Hatfield. “Catholic social teaching instructs us to give priority to the poor because these are the least of our brothers and sisters. You can help by purchasing fair trade products.”
Fair trade ensures that disadvantaged workers, farmers and artisans receive a fair wage for their products, and a percentage of the profits from fair trade items are put back into the communities that make them through micro-loans and training.
Take Teni Ayamga, a basket weaver from Ghana whose handmade items are highlighted in CRS’ Work of Human Hands catalog. The catalog features the work of 90 small producer groups in more than 36 countries.
Before Ayamga became part of a fair trade organization, she and her fellow basket weavers were forced to sell in the market for prices so low they didn’t cover the materials used for the product or the hours of their labor.
She was desperate to get whatever she could to support her family.
“Better pricing for our baskets has helped us send our children to school,” Ayamga said. “Before, we had to weave all night to pay school fees.”
Another reason people will be turning to fair trade gifts this Christmas is because of the economic hard times being faced by many within the United States and around the world, according to Kratz.
“We’re getting hurt now by corporate greed and we can do something from having it trickle down to the people who are already suffering,” Kratz said.
Anne H. Ayella, the archdiocesan director of CRS fair trade, said, “People seem to be looking for a more meaningful gift. Fairtrade really works at Christmas because it is putting meaning behind your gift and putting our faith into action. It is making our Christian values come to bear on the market.”
There is still time before Christmas to host a fair trade sale at your parish or school as St. Thomas of Villanova, St. Christopher in Philadelphia, Mary Mother of the Redeemer in North Wales, St. Maria Goretti in Hatfield and Annunciation B.V.M. in Brookline did during the month of November, Kratz said.
“It’s not another fundraiser,” said Kratz. “It’s about offering an opportunity to purchase gifts that give twice. The sweater I have on is made in China; that person is not better off because of my purchase. My earrings were made fair trade in India and I know the person who made them is better off because I decided to buy them.”
To learn more about fair trade or to view an online catalogue, visit www.crsfairtrade.org.
If you need assistance in setting up a sale or have questions, call Joanne Kratz at (215) 915-2225.
CS&T staff writer Nadia Maria Smith may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (215) 965-4614.
Upcoming fair trade sale
Friday, Dec. 5 from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Archdiocesan Office Center at 222 North 17th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103