During the last week of Ramadan, June/July 2016 on a hot bright sunny morning I took a flight to Beirut, Lebanon.
I'd never participated in an International Fair Trade Towns Conference but was excited to know that I would be representing the United Arab Emirates.
Fairtraders on the bus to Fourzol and Hedeithe
Fair Trade Lebanon - Cooperative in Fourzol
Fairtraders Ailsa and Georgio enjoying freshly prepared hummus in Fourzol
The Fair Trade Lebanon Van
Vineyards in Fourzol
Many thanks to Ms Elen Jones (Fair Trade Wales) for introducing the visit.
I've also attached a short recording of the ladies producing hummus.
The second visit was to the Najma Al Subah (Morning Star) Cooperative in Hedeithe.
The Najma Al Subah Cooperative (Morning Star) Hediethe
Wafa and the Najma Al Subah ladies
Certificate from the UNDP
The ladies preparing jam for production
Wafa and Me outside the Najma Al Subah Cooperative
I've attached a couple of videos of my visit to the Najma Al Subah Cooperative for you to view at your leisure.
It was wonderful to meet Wafa and hear how the cooperative had changed lives since its inception empowering women, creating employment and providing financially stability and independence.
At the end of our day we were taken to the Fair Trade Lebanon Shop next to the head office in Beirut.
It was a lovely shop stocked with fairtrade olive oil, figs, lentils, olives, salt, hummus, jam, saffron and gift baskets. All the international fairtrade co-ordinators purchased Fair Trade Lebanon gifts for loved ones back home.
Since it's inception March 2006 the Fair Trade Lebanon Association has grown to nine villages.
4. Ain Ebel
9. Kfar Tebnit
Menjez was declared Lebanon's the first fair trade village by its mayor 9th May 2013.
International fairtrade delegates Ann, Melissa, Sophi, Katarina, Jeremy and Henk arrive for the conference.
Nicholas, Denu and Kathryn
Anjali, Johann and Sophie
Day one of the conference began with the national anthem of Lebanon.
Bruce Crowther MBE talking about Garstang and his fairtrade journey
Wafa from the Najma Al Subah Cooperative talking about her experiences
Minister of State for Administrative reform, the President of Fair Trade Lebanon and the Mayor of Baskinta spoke of Jo Cox MP and her selfless work for refugees and for a tolerant and compassionate world.
It was great to see Wafa from the Najma Al Subah Cooperative again and watch her official video.
Video to be added.
During the afternoon delegates separated into their chosen workshops. My presentation was titled ''Building Bridges with the Youth in Dubai the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.''
Bruce, Matt, Anna and fairtrade co-ordinators from Japan along with many from Movement Sociale watched my impromptu fair trade puppet show.
I am very grateful to my two friends Yara and Hala who enjoyed working with Fairis the Frog, Chalak the Monkey, Chu Maya and Ram Kali.
Many thanks to William Goldstein Fair Trade Coordinator Fair Trade Towns America for taking photographs of the puppet show.
Many of the international fairtrade coordinators stayed at the tranquil Mount Sannine Hotel, Mount Sannine
Day two began with an introduction to the town hall by national poet Abdul Ganib's son, then presentations from the international fairtrade towns coordinators.
We then separated into groups for our workshop sessions.
After the session all the delegates had lunch and we were then entertained by traditional Lebanese dancers.
I felt very honoured and privileged to join the international fairtrade coordinators meeting and participate in the discussion about the future of the International Fair Trade Towns Movement.
We ended the conference by eating dinner together and saying our farewells till next year.
The next international fair trade conference will be hosted by the lovely Florence and her team in Saarbrucken, Germany.
Many thanks to Lory, Benoit, Mona, Saskia and the Fair Trade Lebanon team for organising these instrumental visits.
Fair Trade Lebanon T-shirt - International Fair Trade Towns T-shirt signed by the international fairtrade towns coordinators, Baskinta Lebanon 2016
Lory Boutchakdjun National Coordinator Fair Trade Lebanon's message
I wish the Fair Trade movement in Lebanon and their producers every success for the future and look forward to welcoming them when they visit the United Arab Emirates.
Thank you for reading.
Best regards to all the international fairtrade coordinators I met during this visit.
This is my humble effort to reduce my plastic consumption and waste for Zero Waste Week 2020.
I've been very poorly this year and hope to support the Zero Waste movement with zest and vigour next year.
This month I continued to heal from surgery.
Continued learning about literacy on the prestigious World Literacy Foundation Ambassador 2020 Program and
flew to London to attend my father in law's funeral.
This month I continued to heal from surgery.
Participated in my second Plastic Free July 2020.
Was accepted on the prestigious World Literacy Foundation Ambassador 2020 Program and
completed my Future Learn MOOC - The Power of Podcasting For Storytelling.
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