Keren in El Guabo
You may recognise Keren Rego as sticker #15 from the All Good family sticker set. She is a huge Fairtrade advocate and was named the Fairtrade NZ supporter of the year in 2014. In April she came full circle, travelling to Ecuador to meet the banana farmers and kids from 5th of April School in El Guabo that she has done so much to support. We asked her to share her experiences.
July 7th 2015
Never in a million years did I think I
would be rewarded and acknowledged for my teaching and passion for
Fairtrade. The core ethics and values of Fairtrade are intrinsically a
part of who I am as a woman, teacher, partner, mother and friend.
To return from my recent trip to Costa Rica
and Ecuador (having been named NZ Fair Trade Supporter of the Year 2014) and
take the time to reflect on what I learnt and gained from that experience has
been incredible and inspiring. Being given the opportunity to share that with
my school community, friends and colleagues has reinforced for me, that what I
do to educate others, is infectious, so incredibly important and far from being
If it was conceived possible, I might be even more determined and passionate to
encourage others that, if given the choice…think Fairtrade first!
Flying to South America for the first time
in my life, I was like a kid on Christmas morning!
Bursting with excitement and enthusiasm to
meet everyone! For me it was like travelling full circle as I came face to face
with so many members of the All Good Family! I have been talking and teaching
about them for years and even had the honour of my own caricature being
designed for the 2014 sticker campaign!
The El Guabo cooperative, one of the oldest
fairtrade cooperatives in the world, has been in operation for 18 years and now
delivers fair trade and organic bananas to 5 countries around the world
including: America, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and New Zealand.
We visited individual farm owners and
larger scaled community farm operators-whoever I spoke to about the difference
Fairtrade has made to their life confirmed that the stability and ability to
plan ahead was vital to improving their lives and allowing them to be
independent farmers within the cooperative. The support, the security, the
environmental care taken at every step along the way!
When I spoke to Rose who works on a community
Fairtrade banana farm in El Guabo. Rose said, “the stability of an official price
all year around and making it stable means you can plan so then even a bank is
more willing to give us a loan and you can plan for the future so your farm
will have many improvements.”
Visiting the Medical Centre and 5th of April School confirmed for me just how evident and valuable the social premium
is in funding important worthwhile projects.
For the last five years Point Chevalier
School have been sending funds (raised as part of our annual Fairtrade
breakfasts), resources and personal correspondence between the children in both
Arriving at the school and being greeted by
excited and enthusiastic children, their parents and the teachers, brought
tears to my eyes. They entertained us with song, dance and a scrumptious
morning tea! It was so wonderful to look around the school and see how the
money we have raised has helped out in such a practical way with resources. I
was able to speak to them about future ideas for fundraising and it was quite
clear to see that the school would really benefit from a some new playground
equipment so that is our new focus for helping them!
When you think Fairtrade first and choose
to buy fair trade you are supporting incredible projects all over the world
that get to the heart of the community and make the planet a better place to be.
Keren is a teacher at Pt Chevalier Primary in Auckland. She teaches a special Fairtrade class and each year raises money for the 5th of April school in El Guabo during Fairtrade Fortnight. Her class have petitioned their local supermarket to stock more Fairtrade products and made an award-winning Fairtrade movie. Keren's a Fairtrade superhero!