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Looking beyond borders


African artisan basket weavers


We often say that buying Fair Trader products ‘helps farmers and families around the world.’ As we face new challenges here, we wonder what everyday life is really like for our producers.

I started to write this whilst enjoying a bowl of porridge for breakfast, not realising its significance to children in Malawi.

The women of the MPHATSO Children’s Foundation (alongside Lake Malawi) hand-craft stunning gift bags using wax-print Chitenge cotton. Once seen, never forgotten. Distinctive acid yellow, lime green and black prints of plants and gourds. Beautifully sewn. Each bag can be used to ‘wrap’ a gift over and over again.

The Foundation provides one (the only) good meal a day – a bowl of porridge – to over 1000 children every school day.

What is astounding is the sheer resilience and determination of the people. They craft these beautiful bags, despite facing food poverty at certain times of year and the effects of climate change.

Several thousand kilometres away, the Ariaal (in Northern Kenya) and the Kamba people (in the East) weave truly stunning sisal baskets. The skills have been passed down from mother to daughter for many generations. True artisans, each weaver entirely crafts each individual basket. They are part of the Basket Room Co-operative. Their regions are totally different, yet each year they will face extreme challenges – whether drought or flash floods.

On top of this, COVID-19 is on the horizon.

So… we think it is even more important at this time that we continue to support workers and families in countries such as Malawi, Kenya and many more. Buy from Fair Trader and be sure your money is put to good use.


Kathryn Sheard, April 2020

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