Dana Geffner, Global Exchange’s Wholesale Program Director and Jocelyn Boreta, our Retail Program Director were in Peru recently to meet with Fair Trade artisans.  They just compiled and sent out a report back to staff the other day, but here is one of Dana’s excerpts from the journey:

“We took a 7-hour car ride through the mountains of Peru to get to remote villages.  It was the first time anyone had visited this group of artisans, because until 3  years ago it was too dangerous to visit.  Most of the people we are working with are victims of severe violence and most of the women have lost their husbands to terrorism.  My colleague and I were in the back of a tiny car along with 5 other people, which made for a very tight situation with everyone sitting on everyone else’s laps. Our hosts were so excited that everyone had to come, even the Vet that takes care of the llamas that the wool comes from.

We got to the first village and arrived to a group of 80 people from this small, remote town, who started clapping ecstatically as we pulled up.  The leaders of the cooperative escorted us to the front of the group behind some tables (imagine a press conference scenario.)  We had to talk, first in English translated to Spanish, and then translated to Quechan, their local language. They went on to tell us what they needed from us and how we could help. Then many of the artisans started to bring up the work they had done and wanted to know if it would sell.  It was just amazing.

One man stood up to speak, saying that this was an important time in their history and for their work, because we came to visit with them and showed them the respect that no one had done before.

Looking back at the photos make me tear up now, just realizing the incredible impact fair trade purchases can make on impoverished communities.”

Dana and Jocelyn designed several new products that will be available at our Fair Trade stores soon, as well as other Fair Trade stores across the US. Stay tuned to the blog as we share the full report back from Peru, including more stories from artisans, information on the Fair Trade movement on the ground in Peru and a sneak peek at the upcoming product.