“Bangladeshis making cheap clothes for Asda ( the UK branch of Walmart) , Tesco and Primark are paid as little as 3p an hour, according to a report that claims to reveal the grim truth about Asia's sweatshops. Basic pay in factories that cut and sew fabric for budget chains could be just £8 a month for an 80-hour week, investigation for the charity War on Want found.”
Extract taken from an article in the Independent.
One thing that always strikes me is how, so very, easily we can overlook this kind of unfairness in our everyday lives.
But there is another price to be paid along the clothes-line, ( and the coffee, sugar, chocolate-line...) and somebody’s paying it.. Somewhere… Far enough out of sight, we don’t have to actually catch their eye.
Or see the kind of clothes they themselves wear, the streets they walk, the food they eat, the places they sleep.
We don’t have to pass them by on our way home from our trip to the shops.
It’s actually pretty convenient…..
Last Saturday my daughter and I had a rare girly day. We went into town, bought fabric to make book mark gifts for her friends before she leaves school in September. We had huge hot chocolates with whipped cream topping flakes and sprinkles. We trawled the charity shops and found a treasure trove of classic books, clothes, and fabric for the pajamas she wants me to sew for her.
Yet looking at all the high street shop windows the thought came to me that there was, right at that very moment a young girl about my daughter's age, “her dreamy thoughts, her gentle heart, her adventurous spirit“, sewing in a sweat shop, separated from her family, schooling, play and dreams, for pennies… There she was staring from the shining glass in front of the window displays. And, there I stood, in the clatter of the street. Thinking of her. A girl I had never met yet knew completely as my own.
And the words I had only read days before came into my mind. One by one, each one, aching in my heart, because I knew that many times my eyes had turned away from the truth in search of convenience, comfort, ease. Till it seemed kind of okay, healthy even to see the colours of my own life brighten while another's faded out of view.
"For this reason, God will send them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie. "
2 Thessalonians 2 :11
One by One... Truth colours...
“The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.”
“The LORD detests differing weights, and dishonest scales do not please him.”
"Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy.”
"Woe to him who builds his realm by unjust gain to set his nest on high, to escape the clutches of ruin!”
“for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ “Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ “Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’
....And there she was, still staring at me. And the rest of the street of shoppers, passing her by.
That night I prayed.
Dear Lord, let us never forget our brothers and sisters who live in poverty.
May we give up a little of what we have joyfully, so that we may join hands with them, in fairness, and unity.
Lord I pray that I may be given the strength to give a little of what I have in love,
with your own hands, open and ready to embrace the stranger,
I have never met yet know as one of my own, my brother, my sister, my mother, my child…
And, Lord let remain still in the rush to acquire, consume and desire,
let me be content,
in love for my neighbours who live simply out of need not choice…
There are, so many ways to be as ethical as possible in the way we might choose to live…
For clothes, jewellery, children‘s books, and toys charity shops are a wonderful resource. The clothes are second hand therefore they are being recycled, they are also very inexpensive and all the proceeds go to a good cause.
We have also found a lot of fabric at the charity shops which we have had a lot of fun sewing up our own “creations” using homemade or free online patterns.
For books: Amazon of course is great. But even better is the local library. Sharing is good for the soul…. And the wallet of course!
For food: Local is best, local markets, local suppliers.
Supporting local farming is good for both our own health and the environment as food is not stored for long or shipped long distances.
Local produce will also be naturally fair trade (good for encouraging the balancing of prices internationally), while keeping our own farmers in competitive business within their own country.
Unfairly low prices for the same produce from abroad forces farmers to rely heavily on subsides which is very demoralising or simply stop growing certain produce altogether .
We like to buy organic, free range produce to help farmers who are good stewards of the earth, raise their animals with love and who care about the health and well being of the people who will eventually eat what they raise and grow.
As a family this sometimes means eating more simply as organic food costs more but there are positives. Teaching my girls about how we can pass a little of the providence God has given us on to our beautiful earth and our neighbours who share it with us is nourishment. Soul nourishment!
Growing your Own, is the best way to eat fair, organic, healthy produce though. We only have a small garden but have managed to grow an enormous variety of vegetables using tubs, composting and plotting out the land we have to make best use of the space available.
Many cakes, biscuits and breads, are factory made using the cheapest ingredients possible it’s far better, and more fun, to bake your own using fair trade ingredients.
Here are a few fairly trading links…
Fairtrade foundation site... lotsa info, products and links
Oxfam International, trade campaign
Fairtrade clothes, jewelry, accessories and gifts from the hunger site.