The highlight of this year’s Fairtrade Fortnight Celebrations at St Edmund’s was certainly the visit of Mahyana Sari, Secretary of the Fairtrade Coffee Cooperation Arinagata in Sumatra who was accompanied by members of the Fairtrade Foundation. This was a chance for pupils and staff to get a first-hand report from a producer regarding the impact that Fairtrade has on their company, the farmers, workers and their families. This sparked ITV’s interest to come and film some of the lessons and workshops. The children impressed us, Mahyana and the ITV reporter with their enthusiasm, their intelligent questions and their subject knowledge.
Mahyana’s message was a clear and simple one: We are all connected with each other through the things we use on a daily basis, might it be the honey, nuts or fruit in our breakfast cereals, the cup of coffee at lunchtime or our favourite cotton shirt, consumers’ choices have a direct impact on the lives of producers and their communities.
Mahyana’s presentations about her coffee cooperation were received with a lot of interest and enthusiasm by the pupils from Years 3-5, Year 8 and Year 11. Children learned about the process from bean to cup and had the opportunity to feel and smell Sumatran coffee beans. “This just shows how important it is to support Fairtrade”, says Rhyd, a Year 5 pupil after a discussion round with Mahyana. Josie Head (Year 8) adds, “It is a fantastic opportunity for us to get to know a Fairtrade farmer as it really brings us closer together. If you think about it, if I buy Fairtrade coffee, ultimately students in Sumatra are given the chance to have a better education because they now have electricity and can study better at home.”
In her presentations Mahyana highlighted the importance of the Fairtrade Premium, an additional sum of money paid on top of the Fairtrade minimum price that farmers and workers invest in social, environmental and economic developmental projects to improve their businesses and their communities. They decide democratically by committee how to invest the premium. As an example, farmers are encouraged to improve the environmental impact and practices of their farming and are being supported in dealing with the impact of climate change. Children in the Lower Junior School have been learning about turtle conservation projects by Coobana, a Fairtrade Banana Cooperation in Panama. They have created a flotilla of papier maché sea turtles including an earth, sun, moon and rainbow turtle. These will form part of a display at the local Fairtrade Fair at St Peter’s Methodist Church this Saturday to raise awareness about our responsibility towards our environment. What an important message to learn.
The footage from the ITV news report can be viewed here.