Women benefit from local fair trade festival

On Nov. 10, three local churches hosted a joint fair trade festival called Bless These Hands Fair Trade Festival.
This festival was done to support women nationally and globally through purchases of fair trade and locally made items.
First Baptist Church of Christ, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church and High Street Unitarian Church are all located on the same street and all worked together for this event and other missions.
Women from each of these churches came together to form a group called Bless These Hands to explore ways to cooperate across different faith traditions.
Bless These Hands Fair Trade Festival has been a tradition at these three churches for the past three years.
St. Joseph’s Catholic Church initially had contact with Serrv, a fair trade organization that sells items in the Catholic church’s bookstore.
In addition to Serrv, the Bless These Hands group also contacted vendors from Beads for Life, Cafe Campesino and Thistle Farms.
These three different fair trade organizations have different goals and products.
Beads for Life works out of Africa, giving fair pay to Ugandan women selling beads and jewelry as a way to eradicate poverty.
Cafe Campesino sells organic, fair trade coffee.
Thistle Farms, an organization out of Madeline Community, sells bath and body products.
It benefits impoverished and sex-trafficked women in the United States by providing fair work, job training and fair wages.
The Circle of Hope women of First Baptist Church of Christ also sold crafts and food that they made themselves.
This year, the Bless These Hands group had new vendors including Rahab’s Rope, which is a vendor that works with victims of sex trafficking and Better Way Imports.
In addition to selling these good to support women, the Bless These Hands group hopes to educate people about what fair trade is and what purpose it serves globally.
“We want to teach more people what fair trade is all about and why it is important to shop fair trade whenever possible,” said Bless These Hands member, Sharon Bailey. “To me, fair trade means doing trade in a way that is more respectful and fair to the producers.”
Much of the fair trade food products, like coffee and chocolate, are produced by cooperatives.
For products like jewelry, the producer sets a fair price for the product instead of producing on a large-scale and cheaply by a corporation that does not fairly pay workers a decent wage.
This negotiation means that the person creating the product gets paid a fair price.
Fair trade is supposed to create a sense of pride in the individuals work, build and strengthen communities and provide a way to allow others to enter the market.
Fair trade enhances the lives people lead in villages around the world and helps those disadvantaged locally, like victims of sex trafficking.
“I feel like I am really making a difference, not just making some corporation rich,” said Bailey.
The festival was fairly successful and was a global addition to each of these churches’ missions.