Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Just Way to Celebrate Mother's Day

Posted on the Bread for the World-New Mexico website...
By Alaina Paradise

Mother’s Day accounts for 25% of the sales of the entire U.S. floral industry each year. One of the greatest ironies of the holiday is the mistreatment of hundreds of thousands of mothers and other female workers on floral farms around the globe.

These ladies are often subjected to sexual harassment, cheated out of wages, and forced to work in dangerous fumigated areas without proper protection - hardly the gift that many intend to give when they hand a bunch of roses to their smiling mom. This year, Fair Trade Certified™ flowers are the new option for socially-conscious shoppers who want to give Mom a gift that truly gives back. The Fair Trade program is slowly making a drastic impact in the lives of many floral workers and their families in countries like Ecuador, Colombia, and Kenya. About 90% of these workers are female, and many are mothers themselves.

A great example of the positive change is seen in Ecuador where the minimum wage is the equivalent of around $166 per month, or $0.95 per hour according to the U.S. Department of State. Wages are even lower for the average floral worker in a non-Fair Trade business in Ecuador. They make $90 per month if they are lucky.

The Fair Trade program for Ecuadoran floral farms puts an end to this disparity by providing not just minimum wage, but a living wage to workers on Certified farms.

Women who work on these farms are now able to support themselves and their families, which means better nutrition, access to higher education, improved living conditions and greater equality for women in the home. Fair Trade flowers are new to the U.S. market, and the largest companies in the floral industry have done little to promote their availability. One World Flowers is a start-up company based in Albuquerque, N.M., that is completely dedicated to selling 100% Fair Trade flowers. The company is a licensed by TransFair USA as an official importer of Fair Trade Certified™ flowers and it acts as a wholesaler to many co-op markets, grocery stores, and florists around the country. As part of the company’s commitment to fair trade, 10% of the purchase price of the flowers is donated back to a workers’ fund each quarter.

Farm employees organize democratically to vote on ways to use the funds for community improvement, micro-lending, or education. Fair Trade farms also provide on-site doctors and healthcare for employees, 12 weeks of paid maternity leave, and year-round working agreements to prevent seasonal layoffs. With such incredible benefits it is hard to imagine that Fair Trade flowers are not offered by more places. There is confusion among consumers about other flower labels such as Veriflora and FlorVerde. These are primarily environmental protection programs that do not have the same social and human rights protections that are offered by Fair Trade. Florists and grocers around the nation often don’t make the distinction between these programs and Fair Trade, which also includes strict environmental protection standards. They are therefore unlikely to pay the extra cost for offering Fair Trade flowers to customers.

“Growth has been slow but steady,” says Joie King of One World Flowers, “we really work hard to educate consumers around the big holidays about the social and economic impacts of Fair Trade in addition to its environmental sustainability standards. Our goal is to make the biggest impact we can for the ladies on Fair Trade farms.”

As surrounding farms see the success of the Fair Trade program, the hope is that more will seek to change their policies and go through the rigorous certification process.

Before giving mom a bunch of roses for Mother’s Day this year, consider the source and the moms who grew them. It’s worth the extra few dollars per bouquet to ensure that the women who grew the roses were paid and treated fairly.
Be sure to look for the Fair Trade label on the bouquet wrapper or individual stems to ensure that what you’re really getting are Fair Trade flowers. If you can’t find them, ask your local florist or cooperative market to start carrying them.
Where to buy

The difference is peace of mind for moms worldwide who no longer have to struggle to feed their children or provide a safe home. Take it from Silvia Mariana Cualchi Rojas, a Fair Trade floral worker who said, "When I separated from my husband, my son and I had no place to go. Without my husband, I couldn’t qualify for a bank loan. [The farm’s] Housing Maintenance Program put a roof over our heads and pride in our hearts."
It’s amazing what the right gift for one can do for others!

The author is president of One World Flowers

(Editor's note: And if you decide to buy your Mother's Day bouquets from One World Flowers, please remember that orders are due by April 24)

Posted By Carlos Navarro to Bread for the World-New Mexico at 4/18/2009 09:35:00 AM

Thursday, April 16, 2009

chicken-a-la-carte: a powerful short film

This comment was left in response to a different APB blog entry, but the short film it contains is so powerful, that I want to share it with everyone. It's one of those movies that really calls up a strong emotional reaction even when you're writing and reading about hunger every day. Please take a few minutes to watch.
Please spare 6 minutes of your life and watch this film, and share it with your friends and family. This is a true story about hunger and its impact on human race when coupled with poverty. Bring awareness about food and waste. Bring change in your life and impact the world to make it a better place.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

April 15 Prayer Vigil: Change of Plans

Hello everyone!

I have an important update for you about the April 15 Prayer Vigil for AIDS issues. I am excited to share that the planning of the prayer vigil has yielded some success. Positive discussions have taken place with members of congress, including Senators Durbin and Burris that have shifted the strategy. Instead of gathering for a prayer vigil it is now encouraged that folks write a thank you letter (see sample letter below).

We'll urge them to help our country keep it's commitment to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. We want to thank Senator Durbin in particular for being a champion and continuing to work with us.

Thank you for your interest in supporting the Global Fund!

The Honorable Senator Durbin
230 South Dearborn Street
Suite 3892
Chicago, IL 60604

Dear Senator Durbin,

Thank you very much for your continued support of global health issues. You have been an active champion for the fight against diseases of poverty and your help is needed now more than ever.

As the global financial crisis pushes more people into extreme poverty, it is critical that developed nations keep their promises to fund life-saving programs like the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. The Global Fund has been incredibly successful, saving an estimated 3.5 million lives by funding projects judged for their impact, community involvement, and transparency. Yet the fund is experiencing a dangerous shortfall.

Donor countries have not yet provided adequate money to fund the bold, high quality proposals being submitted by developing nations. Life-saving programs may be delayed or cut back.
If the U.S. comes through on its funding promise, other nations will follow. Please ensure our country lives up to its commitment to the Global Fund by increasing funding in the upcoming supplemental appropriations bill by $1 billion. I also urge you help us provide the U.S. fair share of $2.7 billion dollars in FY2010.

(your name)
(your address)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Global Activism Expo 2009 (from Chicago Public Radio's Worldview)

Global Activism Expo 2009
Saturday, April 25, 2009 @ noon - 6:00 p.m.

Hosted by Worldview’s Jerome McDonnell, Chicago Public Radio Presents…is thrilled to again present this remarkable celebration – complete with food, music and over 100 Chicago-area Global Activists, all featured guests of Worldview’s Global Activism series. On the air for over six years now, the Series continues to be inspirational, and bringing everyone together for this Expo has quickly become an annual event.

Doors open at noon on Saturday and stay open until 6 pm; it’s FREE – so bring your classes, your children, your neighbors, your friends and family.

Free parking is available in NEIU Lot L.

This year there will be a variety of food for sale from local ethnic restaurants (cash sales only!), and an outdoor eating area in addition to space set-aside in the Expo for your enjoyment. We’ve added a Performance Stage where the amazing talent associated with many of these organizations will be performing for you; and we’ve arranged for break-out rooms where presentations will be made by various organizations throughout the day, so that you can better learn what they do and how you can get involved.