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Manju, Laxmi and Basanti together under fairtrade title

Fair Trade and the tale of Manju’s bathroom

By Kate

Posted in

So, what’s the point of ethical trade?

With Fairtrade Fortnight upon us, does it really do any good? Isn’t it easier, and cheaper, to buy that T shirt that costs just £2? And of course it is, but what is the real cost of that?

 

CJ Facebbok post on cheap clothing and a BBC article on justifying a £2 T shirt

 

Is paying £2 going to reward the person who made it, with a livelihood that is sufficient to feed their family, put a ‘proper’ roof over their heads, educate their children, build their community and support their aspirations? The answer is, eh, I don’t know, but I can hazard a guess.

So, I say it again, what is the point of ethical trade?  Well, to us here at Cinnamon Junction, it is Manju’s bathroom ….. If you know anything about CJ, you will know the fabulous Manju …

 

Manju sitting at a sewing machine in the workshop, sewing Monsoon bed linen

 

Meet Manju

She’s the ‘incorrigible giggler’, with a huge smile that radiates from our posts and website (and if you haven’t had the privilege, let us introduce you). She is also one of the wonderful ladies who make your garments.

When we first met Manju, she told us that it was her dream to add another room onto her current one-roomed house where she and her husband raise their four children. Well, she did it! And, guess what, she’s even added a bathroom!

 

 

 

 

I know that it can sound glib to say “We want to make a difference”.  After all, ‘earnest’ is a look best avoided, and of course, our lack of size means we are never going to make a whole lot of difference …… but with Manju’s bathroom, at least it makes our efforts tangible. Fair trade not only enables those benefitting to advance their living standards, but is also the gateway to our ladies improving their personal circumstances.

 

Basanti smiling in the sunshine ina purple sari

 

 

Our lovely Basanti

You will have also met our lovely Basanti (if not, take a look). Basanti, a Mum of three, previously worked as a menial labourer on construction sites, being paid less than her male counterparts and subject to dangerous working conditions and sexual harassment. In the short time that we have known her, Basanti has bloomed in the workshop, and is now unstoppable. Having taught herself to read and write alongside her children, she is an inspiration. On my last visit, she told me that she is now the proud owner of a new sofa! I’m a sucker for a furnishing success story!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But it is not all about the girls. You will have met Naheem, a block printing legend! Fair trade has helped preserve his wonderful artisan craft and has provided a sustainable livelihood for him and the generations to come.

 

So, what next?

Well, Manju is now saving for her childrens’ university fund. She hopes that they will be the first from her family to go to uni, and here’s the thing …… ethical trade encourages aspirations and delivers dreams. It is a means by which people can be the best that they can be. It is everything that Cinnamon Junction stands for ….. but it is going to cost you more than £2!  Sorry!

 

 

 

 

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