It has been a natural progression from fair trade campaigner, educator and social entrepreneur to ethical consumer.
This is my summary of how I began and continue to strive to live a fair and ethical lifestyle.
I have attempted to illustrate the small steps I have taken to live a life free of clutter, materialism and a throw away society.
Fairtrade recycled key bowl produced by artisans at Noah's Ark Int,
I have always wanted to live a simple minimalist lifestyle which reiterate the values and principles of Fair Trade and Ethical Living.
As a self confessed ethically conscious consumer I've purposely chosen to reduce my consumption of fashion, electronics, home ware, cosmetics and plastic.
Over the years I have supported many charities including The Christie Hospital Manchester where my mother was treated for metastatic breast cancer and recorded videos for World Cancer Day 2019 and 2020.
Fair trade supports SDG 2 - Zero Hunger, it was important for me to raise awareness about food inequality with Practical Action. I participated in their Live Below The Line 2014 campaign. I believe I was the only participant based in the UAE.
In 2016 after my mothers passing I decided to donate most of my furniture to Take My Junk UAE.
As a social entrepreneur it has been a pleasure to support the efforts of other social entrepreneurs and Adopt A Camp Dubai established by Sahar Shaikh is a beautiful example of kindness and compassion.
As a fairtrade campaiger and educator it was important to support fairtrade visioneers and practice what I preach. I invested in the worlds first ethical, modular and functional phone the Fairphone2 2015 and recorded a video blog review about my Fairphone 17,418.
The Six Items Challenge has been a part of my life since 2012. It has been a pleasure to support the Labour Behind The Label Team.
It has also been important to support initiatives that promote zero waste, reduce plastic consumption and learn about harmful cosmetics.
I have recorded videos about safe cosmetics and participated in Plastic Free July, Zero Waste Week.
As an avid traveller and learner of other cultures. It was a honour to welcome Gambian environmental activist, social entrepreneur and author Isatou Ceesay to my humble abode.
As a keen learner and educator, I have immersed myself by applying for online courses and an international scholarship program for social entrepreneurs.
It has been a pleasure to support World Pulse as a mentor and ambassador to promote member stories on social media.
I am delighted to have been accepted on the World Literacy Foundation Ambassador 2020 Program.
As an World Fair Trade Organization individual associate member I continue to promote, support and raise awareness for fair trade producers by supporting the 10 Principles of Fair Trade and the Sustainable Development Goals.
A beautiful hadith (narration of the beloved Prophet Mohammad peace be upon him).
Credit and Source Safiya5.tumblr.com
Me with my father and my younger sister with my mother
I am blessed. I had a beautiful childhood...
My parents were my first school of morals, values, love and compassion.
They were hardworking selfless individuals who instilled the values of honesty, dedication and compassion.
They were, kind, generous people, who saw the good in everyone.
During the 70's and 80's my father financially assisted many young entrepreneurs in Manchester to establish their businesses and our home was a hive of activity.
My teachers said I was a conscientious child. I was the youngest in my class and one of three children of colour.
I loved to read, books were a portal that transported me to a world full of magic and miracles.
Fair trade recycled bicycle book end and fair trade books
Yes! I was a bookworm.
I loved school I was happy and after 40 long years I still remain friends with my nursery friend Helen.
At primary school I was introduced to Oxfam, and raised money for those less fortunate around the world and learnt about the environment.
Sabeena Ahmed at the Old Moat Junior School and friends supporting the Oxfam Ethiopia Appeal - aged 9/10, 1984/5
Here I am with my dear father and younger sister
My father was one of the most kind, generous and charismatic you could ever meet.
He was my best friend, and taught us the value of money, discipline and hard work. Every pound I earned I saved.
My younger sister and spent our childhood assisting him to operate his businesses.
I was never a big spender and saved all of my pocket money for gifts and Mother's Day presents.
During my teenage and early twenties I became a carer and worked part-time jobs to support my family.
I married in late 2001 and relocated to Saudia Arabia where my love for teaching was born.
I returned to the UK during 2004 and decided it would be beneficial to apply for a Post Graduate Certificate of Education and Teach Learners English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).
I completed my PGCE (PCET) ESOL at the University of Greenwich and started teaching at (WAES) the Westminister Adult Education Service - Paddington Centre.
Photos of my learners (TBA)
I thoroughly enjoyed teaching and was sad to leave the UK once more as I relocated to KSA and then the UAE in 2008.
My fairtrade and ethical living journey began Ramadan 2008.
Sabeena Ahmed - Fairtrade Campaigner, Educator
and Social Entrepreneur
My fairtrade journey began September 2008 whilst studying an online distance Islamic Banking and Insurance course.
Much to my surprise I had an epiphany!
A paragraph illustrating how Islam promotes the equal distribution of wealth evoked strong emotions. Stories of social injustice and disparity of earnings amongst the poorest people around the world fuelled a desire to take action.
In the weeks that followed I searched the internet and discovered the home page of the World Fair Trade Organization.
The World Fair Trade Organization Mark
The Ten Principles of Fair Trade
Since 2008 I have patiently dedicated my time to educate consumers about fairtrade artisans and groups by promoting the principles of a living wage, self-reliance, empowerment, transparency, environmental sustainability and dignity and self respect for all.
I have been supported by many fairtrade and non-profit organisations around the world.
I have been fortunate to receive a warm reception from hundreds of local expatriates and like minded international tourists.
I call them my ''Fair Trade Angels'' because without them I could not support fairtrade organisations around the world.
I am happy and proud to be an individual associate member of The World Fair Trade Organization since 2011 and won the BOLDtalks Open Mind Award 2011.
The Little Fair Trade Shop Winner of The BOLDtalks Open Mind Award 2011
It is my passion and ambition to physically visit as many fairtrade producers as financial possible and I have been fortunate to visit artisans in Bangkok, Cairo, Dehli, Bali, Haripur, Karachi, Kegalle, Kurunegale, Pinnawala and Rawalpindi.
The Little Fair Trade Shop strapline and logo
Fair Trade Ethical Living simply means living a fair, just and simple life.
It was the most appropriate strap line I chose for my brand The Little Fair Trade Shop. It encapsulates my desire to detach myself from materialism and invest my time and energy in issues I passionately care about.
They are not meaningless words but to words to live by.
The issues and subjects I am passionate and have campaigned for over the years include the following;
Fairtrade Social and Trade Justice
Breast Cancer Research
The Sustainable Development Goals
Islam and Fairtrade
Self-Care and Well Being
I was invited as a panelist to talk about fair trade with Dubai Exports, ITC and the UN, February 2018.
I have decided to include this video here to promote fairtade in the United Arab Emirates
All copyright reserved and owned by Dubai Government
2012 is a year that will remain etched in my heart and mind forever.
My family received devastating news that our beautiful mother had been diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.
After a long and courageous four year struggle with cancer my beloved mother Mrs Meshar Mumtaz Bano returned to her maker April 2016.
I miss my mother and my aunts who also passed from breast and ovarian cancer.
This tragic event elevated a sense of urgency within me, I felt it was my duty as a fairtrade campaigner and educator to talk about breast cancer.
Breast cancer and other cancers are taboo in the South East Asian community and I thought it was essential to break down the barriers and talk openly about my experiences of caring for a parent with a terminal illness.
My beautiful mother was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer March 2012, she was 59 years old.
Mrs Meshar Mumtaz Bano - Manchester June 2012
I always want to remember my mother as the happy, healthy soul with a
beautiful mischievous smile.
Mrs Meshar Mumtaz Bano at Mall of the Emirates, Dubai, UAE - 2010
My beloved mother passed away from metastatic breast cancer April 18th 2016, she was 62 years old.
May Allah azza wa ajal (God) bless all mothers with Paradise
My siblings and I miss her terribly.
Mrs Meshar Mumtaz Bano, Edinburgh Castle
During early January 2017 I found a lump in my left breast and immediately made an appointment to see my breast consultant. Luckily, my lump was a cyst and it was removed successfully.
Due to a history of breast and ovarian cancer in my family my consultant advised that I take the BRAC1 and BRAC2 genetic testing.
My results were normal and I do not carry the BRAC 1/2 genes. I am very relieved.
Self examination is the key to early detection of cancer and survival.
Women who have a history of cancer in the family should attend their annual mammogram and pap test.
While caring for my mother an opportunity arose to raise awareness for garment workers by participating in the Six Items Challenge with Labour Behind The Label.
My mother took the very first photos of me supporting the Six Items Challenge in 2012 and add a little normality to a very difficult and painful life experience.
I remember one the last conversations I had with her where she said she was proud of me and gave her blessings for me to continue with my fairtrade work.
With her final words embedded in my heart and soul forever and I am more determined and motivated to continue to raise awareness for fairtrade and campaign for social and trade justice.
Without a doubt, I cannot deny that the past 8 years has put immense pressure on my personal and professional life and the business became a secondary concern. It was my mothers strong determination and will to fight against this debilitating disease that I wanted to raise awareness about breast cancer research by supporting The Christie Hospital, Manchester, United Kingdom.
Night of Neon 10km walk for The Christies Hospital, Manchester, UK
- October 2012
It is a honour and privilege to support fair trade organisations Friend's Handicraft and Maiti, Nepal who support and rehabilitate victims of human trafficking by designing and retailing handmade bags and home accessories.
The Friends Handicraft Ladies, Kathmandu, Nepal
100% of the proceeds of this beautiful totally bobbles fairtrade pink handbag are forwarded to The Christies Hospital, Manchester, United Kingdom.
Since my mothers passing I feel its my duty to educate others about the dangers of applying toxic chemicals on skin.
It has been therapeutic conducting research about the alternative organic, vegan, socially conscious brands that are available on the high street.
Six Items Challenge 2017 Week 2 featuring the
Odylique make up at 4.11.
During 2016 I had a couple of lovely online conversations with Abi Weeds Managing Director and Emma Hopewell of Odylique - Essential Care (Organics) Ltd.
I was particularly interested to support Odylique as it is a leading brand of cosmetics and natural skin care based in the United Kingdom. The company prides itself on promoting their organic, vegan, fairtrade, cruelty free ethos and specialise in treating problematic sensitive, reactive and allergy prone skin.
Abi explained how the company was established by her mother Mrs Margaret Weeds over 30 years.
All Odylique products are Soil Association Organic certified and the brand has won numerous awards for their pioneering products, best of all they are cruelty free so you can wear them with pride knowing that they have been tested on other individuals with sensitive prone skin like mine and yours. Their products are suitable for children.
As a long term suffer of adult acne, 30+ years to be precise, I was excited and anxious to use their products.
To be very honest, I don't wear make up because I've always endured painful acne and sensitive skin. I don't know how to apply make up and am very weary of cosmetics that contain parabens such as, methylparaben, propylparaben, butlyparaben, triclosan, triclocarbon, and diethylphthalate (DEP), sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and (SLES) sodium laureth sulphate that are linked to breast cancer. I have also learnt it is better to avoid products that list fragrance or parfum.
Odylique products were suitable for my adult acne, sensitive, allergy prone skin.
For those interested Odylique were the number one cosmetic company featured in Ethical Consumer March/April 2017 and 2020 magazine.
Other videos featuring Odylique cosmetics
Fairtrade Fortnight 2017 Summary featuring the
Odylique photoshoot at 3.38.
Over the years I have grown to admire and support kind people.
Live Below The Line 2014 - Dubai, United Arab Emirates
After my mother passed away it was emotionally and mentally exhausting sifting through all her possessions. My siblings and I eventually sent her new clothes and accessories to her family.
This experience made me question my life, my purpose and what was truly important.
I decided I didn't need 90% of the 'things' I had in my apartment and called a Take My Junk to collect them.
It was therapeutic to donate my furniture and other possessions to this wonderful charity who sells items to the less disadvantaged and need in society and promotes a circular economy.
Take My Junk Truck UAE - Donating my furniture
Take My Junk Truck UAE - Donating my furniture and majlis
My Living Room (2016)
I'm proud to say I am the owner of a Fair Phone 2 - No 17,418!!!
The Fairphone is the worlds first modular, ethical and functional phone.
I thought I would share a few of my vlogs and photographs I've uploaded with my Fairphone2 since I received it February 2016.
My Fairphone2 - 17,418
For My Six Items Challenge 2016 - I recorded a blog about my Fairphone 2
Over the past 3 years I have discovered, tried and tested many zero waste bathroom alternatives.Organic Loofah instead of a plastic one
Organic handmade soap instead of hand wash
Herbal Tooth powder instead of toothpaste
Bamboo Toothbrush instead of plastic tooth brush and
Miswaak (cleaning twig made from the Salvadora persica tree)
Organic Herbal Shampoo.
I finally decided to document my beloved mothers red split lentil (masoor) and yellow lentil (moong) daal and eat healthily.
Miss you Mum!
Masoor and Moong Daal with carrot pickle
Zeera Rice and Yoghurt
Serve hot with plain, Zeera Rice, Roti/Chapatti (Flatbread), yoghurt and pickle.
Zero Waste week was founded by Rachelle Strauss in 2008 and began as a National UK Campaign. Campaigns last a week and take place annually during the first full week in September.
The campaign runs predominantly on social media and the website strives to reach a community of like-minded people who want to reduce residential or commercial waste, reuse materials and recycle as much as possible. The aim of the campaign is to help householders, businesses, schools and community groups increase recycling, reduce landfill waste and participate in the circular economy – in alignment with European recommendations and Directives.
Credit and Source: Rachelle Strauss
I was surprised by their message as I didn't believe I was qualified to mentor anyone.
Joanna is 30 years old, is double psychology graduate and an autism specialist/therapist/shadow teacher and trainer.
Joanna has lived with her disability and has overcome it with the support of her family, friends, peers and colleagues.
She is a ''TRUE INSPIRATION'' and would like to share her passion, her teaching to assist children with autism to fulfil their dreams and ambitions.
Unfortunately, autism is an area of education which is under resourced and under funded in her country.
Joanna spent 10 months working abroad with two organisation based in California, US and Wales UK specialising in autism.
Photograph courtesy of Mr Feroz Khan and my Fairphone 2, 17,418
I have consciously worked hard to raise awareness for the global goals for sustainable development.
To mark the beginning of anti-poverty week 2016 I asked my good friends around Dubai to support the World Fair Trade Organizations campaign Fair Trade = No Poverty.
Using the concept of ‘Agent for Change’ (Fair Trade as an agent for change), WFTO’s formula to eradicate poverty:
Fair Trade + Economic Opportunities = No Poverty
For the campaign, the icons of Fair Trade Principle 1 and SDG goal 1 were implemented to represent the formula of change.
Saima Tahqiq and Me!
The World Fair Trade Organization started its global observance of anti-poverty week and asked other fairtraders to share their photographs.
My heartfelt thanks to Anna Sadeghpour for featuring The Little Fair Trade Shop to mark the beginning of anti-poverty week in the United Arab Emirates through her wonderful blog AnaHata Dubai's Community Service Blog.
Agent for Change Anna Sadegphpour supporting the global goal for
sustainable development 1 No Poverty
Many thanks to all my friends in Dubai particularly the Super Sisters Dubai for participating.
Agent for Change Lamya Tawfik supporting global goal for sustainable development 3 Good Health and Well-Being
Ellen Van Dongan - Creator of Responsible Shopping Dubai
Sajidah Ali promoting SDG1 - No Poverty
Irem Ahmed shows her support for SDG 2 Zero Hunger
at Madinat Jumeirah Dubai September 2018
Agent for Change Lamya Tawfik
Agent for Change Sajidah Ali
Agent for Change Yasmeen
Be an ''Agent for Change'' and take a selfie of yourself with a sustainable development goal that resonates with you.
Use the hashtag #SDGs, #GlobalGoals and #2030Agenda every time you post your photos or anything about the campaign.
As a person of colour my fairtrade advocacy/campaigning and ethical living activities are often ignored and dismissed by social entrepreneurial organisations, UAE environmental forums and platforms.
For the past 8 years I have participated in the Six Items Challenge with Labour Behind The Label patiently raising awareness for garment workers, a living wage, clean and safe working conditions.
Sadly, garment workers, cotton workers and farmers around the world still face low earnings and wages, a disparity in earnings has caused a domino effect causing poverty, hunger, social immobility, poor housing, and an absence of literacy/education decreasing future prospects accelerating a cycle of poverty.
Fuelled by a desire by international fashion houses to exceed profits year on year, garment workers predominately protest for a living wage and clean and safe working conditions that are often dismissed and ignored as often activists are threatened with violence and removed from employment.
Poor wages, exploitation, inadequate working conditions, long hours, sexual harassment, sub contractors, non transparent supply chains, working with hazardous chemicals and environmental and water pollution are just a few of the monumental issues that are highlighted by organisations supporting the rights of garment workers.
I have recorded many videos about fast fashion in Urdu and English encouraging the Pakistani/Indian Diaspora in the UK and UAE to learn and understand how their clothes are made, fair wages, sustainable and ethical fashion and to avoid the purchase of fast fashion.
It has been is a slow, painful process and changing mindsets regarding fast fashion and encouraging the uptake of fair trade, sustainable, recycled and up-cycled fashion and materials in the Pakistani/Indian Community will take time and much patience.
As the eternal optimistic...I remain hopeful.
It has been a natural transition from fairtrade campaigner, educator and social entrepreneur to Fairphone user and ethical consumer. I have been happy to lead by example and continue to patiently educate the public in particular the South East Asian Disapora about the environmental impact and hazards caused by the recycling of e waste and also encourage the practice of a circular economy.
As a passionate fairtrade campaigner and advocate I felt compelled to join the Fairtrade Fortnight 2024 webinar.
2024 will be 30 years of Fair trade in the United Kingdom.
This webinar was organised by the Fairtrade Foundation UK team.
I have attached photographs of the webinar below for those interested.
All credit and source courtesy of the Fairtrade Foundation team UK.
This October I continued to heal from my shoulder surgeries.
My right shoulder was very painful and inflamed again and I have struggled to type this blog.
I attended the volunteers webinars for Islamophobia Awareness Month 2023 and the 30 years of Fairtrade in the UK.
I joined the October 2023 Power Inclusive Excellence Committee and Training Tuesday: Climate Change: Taking Action to Support Women and Girls with World Pulse.
During August 2023 I attended a 2 day online webinar titled, 'Journey towards Meaningful Connectivity Exploring Value' with the Institute of Social Entrepreneurs Asia, (ISEA).
I have tried to translate these webinars in Urdu.
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