Each week, Shared Interest will highlight a business who is activiely promoting Fairtrade in their community. This blog post does not imply endorsement by Shared Interest. Please contact us if you would like the ‘spotlight’ on your company.
Jiva travelled widely in India, Nepal and Thailand for nearly 10 years, falling in love with the warmth and ready kindness of the people there, and seeing how their lives of reduced material clutter and a life closer to nature led to a greater sense of harmony and community. She was also greatly moved by the harsh material conditions of their lives in countries with no social welfare or health care, and resolved to offer them ‘a hand up’ through her business in the UK.
She continued to travel in Asia, but now with a renewed sense of purpose, seeking out groups and NGOs to work with. She continues to look for more groups who are supporting themselves and the wider community through their craft skills.
Among the groups Jiva loves working with are the Tibetan refugees in India and Nepal, who make the beautiful woolly hats, gloves and socks, as well as the singing bowls, incense and carved wooden masks. As refugees in India, Tibetans can never have a government job and are often discriminated against by locals, and without the export of their traditional handicrafts, would find it hard to survive. Profits from the sales go to fund the Tibetan children’s schooling in many schools throughout India, and care for orphans where necessary – a sadly high number with the continued violence in Tibet.
Another group is an NGO in Delhi that fund-raises for various social and environmental projects, as well as disaster relief. They make their money by making gorgeous colourful canvas bags, giving the workers good working conditions and pay, with all the profits going to the good causes.
Jiva also fell in love with the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai, and found a wealth of beautiful Fair Trade silver in the area. Made by hill-tribe people, the production of this jewellery gives them a chance to earn some money for modern necessities, and enables them to stay living in their traditional tribal groups and keep their culture alive. It also reduces their need for slash-and-burn agriculture, and thus indirectly helps to preserve the jungle in the area.
As well as selling online, Jiva Fair Trading is a regular at Hastings Farmers’ Market. She will also be at York Big Green Market 5-8 November, Kings Langley Steiner School Advent Fair 28 November, Horsham Fair Trade fair 5 December, Eastbourne Magic Sparkles fair 6 December, Wimbledon Keen Green and Ethical market 10-13 December, Oxford Keen Green and Ethical market 18-21 December.