From Our Blog
For many families in the United States, the end of summer is a busy time preparing for the start of a new school year. Backpacks, notebooks, pencils, and back-to-school clothes are purchased to provide kids with what they need to learn and grow.
This isn’t the reality for children in developing countries around the world.
While there have been significant improvements, according to the United Nations…
- Around 57 million children do not attend school.
- About 50% of children who aren’t attending school live in conflict-affected areas.
- An estimated 103 million youth lack basic literacy skills.
- More than 60% of those lacking basic literacy skills are girls and young women.
India is one country where government and organizational efforts are making a positive difference. Enrollment for both boys and girls in primary and early secondary school has continued to rise in recent years. However, more work to ensure gender parity and literacy for all adults is needed, especially for women who represent that largest group of illiterate people on the Indian Subcontinent.
The Fair Trade organization, Mata Traders, is facilitating change and improving education and literacy rates for women and their children in India. Being in a Mata Traders Fair Trade cooperative not only gives women the opportunity to develop craft and job skills, because they earn a guaranteed fair wage, they are able to send their children—girls and boys-- to school for a full secondary and undergraduate education as well.
Stop by a Global Gifts store to see new fall styles in Mata Traders’ skillfully handmade dresses, tops, and jewelry. This apparel and accessory line is perfect for work, play, or just hanging out. And, best of all, your purchase helps women and their families better their lives!
Hear Mata Traders artisans, in their own words, explain why a pretty dress is far MORE than just a dress…
Erika Jervis, Senior at Hanover College and Intern at Global Gifts in Nora, loves her coffee. In fact, she confesses that her love of coffee was the major factor in her choice to study its effects on various cultures. In her own words...
"While on a study trip to Belize, my Anthropology class observed the production of coffee, sugar, and chocolate on small-scale farms. In regards to coffee, we learned about the differences between Arabica and Robusta beans and what these mean to small farmers. The major difference between the two is that Arabica plants need shade to grow and Robusta plants grow well in full sun. Over the past 200 years, Northern Latin America has converted almost half of its shaded coffee plantations to produce full sun, Robusta plants. The reason is that Robusta plants produce higher yields than Arabica beans. However, the drawback of full sun grown plants is soil erosion and the need to use chemicals. Farmers have the option to use organic chemicals, but the process is costly and time-consuming. The use of the inorganic chemicals is unsustainable in the long term, shortens the life of the plant, and may create superbugs that become resistant to pesticides over a long period of time.
In contrast, Arabica bean plantations are environmentally friendly, but yield low numbers and do not fully develop until later in the season resulting in lower selling prices. In order to provide enough shade to support the growth of Arabica beans, farmers plant fruit trees with large leaves that protect the coffee plants from excessive winds and torrential rains, mulch the soil with leaf residue, and promote biodiversity. Additionally, the fruit trees provide additional income for the farmers if the coffee plants do not produce expected yields and serve as a food bank for the community. Although Arabica beans come at a higher economic risk than Robusta beans, farmers can be considered for fair trade certification, allowing them to sell their beans at a higher price.
Global Gifts carries 100% Arabica coffee from Equal Exchange, Level Ground, and Just Haiti. These companies support fair trade certified farmers from Colombia, Peru, Tanzania, Ethiopia, D.R. Congo, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Africa, Asia, and Haiti. When purchasing Arabica bean coffee, you will be supporting small farmers practicing environmentally safe planting methods despite the economic risk of low yields. Your purchase will encourage them to continue their practices rather than converting to chemical grown Robusta beans."