The parish of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St George, Enfield, regularly holds a Fairtrade Fayre to promote fair wages for farmers and producers in the developing world. CAFOD volunteer Michael Walsh describes the latest Fayre, and explains why it is so important to support Fairtrade:
“The Parish Centre next to the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St George in Enfield was a hive of activity for several hours on Sunday November 16 as the Parish hosted the annual Fairtrade Fayre. Streams of people from three Masses and not a few from services of other Christian denominations came into the Centre to taste the samples of chocolate and wine. As small children whizzed round between the stalls which were arranged on all four sides, scores of their elders stayed to sit down for a chat over cups of fairly-traded tea or coffee and to await the raffle draw. Fr John Anyanu in his Franciscan habit acquired a chocolate Advent calendar and Fr Jeffrey Downie went round to speak to all of the people who were managing stalls. All present spent some time at the stalls selling all sorts of merchandise from candle holders to Christmas cards, from marzipan to mugs.
And it was all run by and for charities proclaiming Christian foundations. Justice and Peace were there along with Pax Christi and Third World in Need, an Enfield parish-based charity. At their stall, two charming Ursuline sisters were raising funds for missionary work in Cameroon. CAFOD volunteers – in addition to raising funds – were introducing the people at their stall to the need to campaign for a global deal to limit carbon emissions, a cause to which Pope Francis will add his support through an encyclical on the environment in 2015.
The centrepiece was the stall managed by the Fairtrade Foundation itself which sold a wide selection of cereals, chocolate, nuts and spices as well as tea and coffee. It was a mark of the success of Fairtrade in Britain which is the biggest supporter of Fairtrade in the western world that many of the products on sale were available on the shelves of the local supermarkets. In the Holy Apostles parish in Pimlico this year a blind tasting of tea, coffee and hot chocolate resulted in Fairtrade brands coming out on top: in addition they were usually cheaper than the non-Fairtrade varieties.
They offer good value in the shops and – unlike other goods – they carry a guarantee that the farmers and other people who produce them work freely in decent conditions for a fair return. Their production is sustainable locally and the price at which it is sold is never permitted to fall below the market price, in this way offering the producers an escape from what Pope Francis called “an economy of exclusion and inequality. … where the powerful feed upon the powerless.” He wrote that “such an economy kills.”
Our Lady of Mount Carmel and nearly half of the other parishes in the Diocese have registered themselves as Fairtrade parishes by using Fairtrade tea and coffee and other products after services and meetings for which the parish has responsibility. A handful more registrations would mean that Westminster itself could claim Fairtrade status as a diocese. If you would like your parish to be registered please put it to your parish priest and obtain an application pack from either CAFOD at firstname.lastname@example.org, or the Justice and Peace Commission at email@example.com.”
You can find out more about Fairtrade, and how you can help ensure that farmers and producers receive a fair wage for their work, at cafod.org.uk/fairtrade.