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When Co-op Members buy Co-op Fairtrade products, they support communities locally in the UK and around the world #TheCoopWay. I recently visited Fairtrade producers in Colombia and Panama to see how Co-op Fairtrade is making a real difference.
Building schools in Colombia and Panama
Co-op Fairtrade banana producers and their communities are benefiting from our support in Panama and Colombia, more than ever.
Just a decade ago the children were taught outside, in pig farms. Now, thanks to Fairtrade, they’re taught in brick classrooms with a qualified teacher and even have play equipment, a sports pitch and school meals.
Scholarship students Amelia, Rene, Ilka and Luis.
Fairtrade scholarships are also helping people like Amelia, who’s training to be an accountant, Luis who could now become a solicitor and Rene, who wants to be a teacher.
Fairtrade supports a number of schools in Colombia, including one in one of the most rural and poorest regions, near Apartado, which displays a huge Fairtrade sign with a message:
“What started as a dream, today becomes reality thanks to Fairtrade and partners,”
El Guineo school
There’s more to be done with repairs, resources and a plan to balance classroom sizes by helping more children leave overcrowded schools in favour of lesser crowded classrooms. More teachers are needed too, there is only one teacher having to teach different grades in one classroom.
Helping workers into decent housing, with electricity and indoor plumbing
Banafrut, a Fairtrade banana co-operative in Uraba, Panama, invests 40% of the premium they receive from Fairtrade on education and 50% on housing.
Workers typically live in a small wooden structure, with very few facilities. But now, thanks to Fairtrade, they can apply for a very low-cost loan to buy a 2 or 3 bedroom house with a bathroom, kitchen and electricity.
New family housing for Banafrut employees
I’m so inspired by my visit to Colombia and Panama. I’m inspired by the people who grow our Co-op Fairtrade bananas and their organisations who are committed to Fairtrade and quality.
Fairtrade Strategy Development Manager
Read more about Fairtrade at our Co-op;