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Trade Aid shop manager sees fair trade at work

Courtesy of Te Awamutu Courier
Lois Titchener
BEATING FAIR TRADE DRUM: Lois Titchener, at Te Awamutu Trade Aid shop with one of the distinctive Nagori drums from an Indian village she visited. 117071AD

By Grant Johnston

When Lois Titchener picked up a drum from the local Trade Aid shop she manages, it bought a tear to her eye.

Mrs Titchener recently returned from a three week educational tour with nine other New Zealand ‘trade aiders’ to India, Nepal and Thailand. Seeing the drum reminded her of her visit to an equitable marketing association in a village in the countryside out of Kolkata (India). The ‘differently abled’ producers make drums.

“They put on an impromptu concert for us and the sheer joy in their faces was something to behold,” Mrs Titchener recalls.

She also visited Timmi Potteries in Nepal which makes pottery stocked by Te Awamutu Trade Aid, candle makers in India (including one striking young woman who was deaf, partially sighted and mute).

She says while helping to sell goods to assist fair trade in poor countries around the world has meant something special to her in the 11 years she has been involved with the local Trade Aid shop, it has added meaning now.

“After the trip I am more convinced than ever of how much we are relied on to purchase products from artisans in producer groups so that in turn their children will be educated and break the cycle of poverty.

“Supporting fair trade helps hundreds of thousands of children worldwide to receive an education.”

The group met a woman in Kolkata who, through her involvement with a producer group, has put her four children through university.

“They have gone on to obtain good careers.”

Mrs Titchener says fair trade provides a win/win situation - with local buyers obtaining goods to keep or for gifts and the artisans obtaining a livelihood with dignity.

May 12 is Fair Trade Day and the Te Awamutu Trade Aid store plans to have a great sale on that day, lucky spot prizes and chocolate tasting (the chocolate is made in Belgium, but supports organic cocoa growers in Ghana and sugar producers in Costa Rica). Children can enter the fair trade postcard competition (sent to schools and available at Trade Aid shops).

Mrs Titchener says she is available to speak to groups and schools about Trade Aid and her recent trip. She can be contacted via the Trade Aid shop at 871 8256.