In 2009 Oxfam campaigner “Push” came through St Albans. He was walking to the Copenhagen Climate Talks to take a message from the poverty-stricken farmers he had interviewed in Africa and Asia. In 2017 Push was here again, this time on a drive to establish the first Fairtrade Towns in India, at Pondicherry-Auroville and Kotagiri in Tamil Nadu.
Push met local supporters of Oxfam, Global Justice, and Fairtrade, and spoke at a Harpenden school. Ann, from Marlborough Rd Methodist Church and Global Justice, was very interested as she had been born in India and went to school in Coonoor, not far from Kotagiri. She decided to feature the Fairtrade Towns India project at a Fairtrade Fortnight coffee morning. A colourful display showed some of the Indian enterprises involved as well as Push’s 450 km walk in Tamil Nadu linking Pondicherry with Kotagiri, raising awareness of Fairtrade principles.
Ann and her team from the church served tea, coffee and homemade cakes to a large group of local people. Everyone made a donation to support Push and the team in the ongoing work of organising, training and running the campaign for the Indian Fairtrade towns. At the end a total of £187 ($230) was raised. We also took photos showing ourselves with our messages of support for the team in India.
Fairtrade could bring many advantages to Indians. It is a way of getting fair wages and safe working conditions for workers, lifting them out of poverty. It also benefits the land and ecosystems to change over to sustainable, organic farming methods. Farmers growing organic Fairtrade cotton can reach better markets, and the sustainable methods used will help them cope with climate change.