The FIG Tree Garstang/Lancaster, United Kingdom
I first visited The Fig Tree October 2011 when it was a mere shell and was invited to a fair trade tea party, August 2012.
The enthusiasm, passion and the warm welcome I received was overwhelming and humbling. I was impressed by its amazing transformation.
I revisited The Fig Tree November 2016 where I was invited to participate in a Chocolate Master Class with the Godfather of Fairtrade Bruce Crowther MBE.
I fulfilled a life time ambition to visit Pakistan December 2011 and February 2015 and met the only two fair trade certified organisations in Karachi and Rawalpindi.
I also conducted interviews with a government official and non profit organisations who are working towards implementing the ten principles of fair trade. Each organisation has a dual role and purpose;
1. to support rural artisans establish and develop strong sustainable projects and
2. revive traditional skills and techniques.
I have attached interviews with Fairtrade and NGO's I visited during December January 2011/12 and February/March 2015.
THE DOMINION TRADERS
THE RA'ANA LIAQUAT CRAFTMEN'S COLONY
THE HOME BASED WOMEN'S WORKERS FEDERATION
AHAN - AIK HUNAR AIK NAGAR
KAARVAN CRAFTS - PRIDE PAKISTAN
AL FALAH TRUST AND EMBROIDERY PROJECT
The Ra'ana Liaquat Craftmen's Colony
Income Generation Programme
The Ra'ana Liaquat Craftmen's Colony was founded by Begum Ra'ana Liaquat, 1954.
I visited their inspirational headquarters and observed training workshops where ladies were taught to produce beautiful up-cycled products.
Mrs Nisreen was happy to share her story and work experiences. It was wonderful to learn how the income generation programme had empowered her and given her the opportunity to supplement her income by designing crochet products.
The Dominion Traders
Fairly traded Marble and Onyx Producers
The Dominion Traders have been promoting fair trade in Pakistan since 1947.
I had the good fortune of interviewing Mr Syed Fahad Ali, Chief Executive Officer and his team of talented artisans when I visited their offices and factory, December 2011.
Since it's inception the organisation has supported approximately 60 employees who are treated with the utmost love and respect. Employees receive fair wages, are employed in good working conditions and are provided with medical care.
KAARVAN CRAFTS - PRIDE PAKISTAN
Kaarvan's mission is to be a fairtrade market leader by producing and retailing affordable and sophisticated hand crafted products in local and export markets.
It provides employment opportunities and marketing and advisory services to women and girls in low income communities so that they can enhance their economic realities.
AHAN - AIK HUNAR AIK NAGAR
Ahan is a non profit company created by the Pakistani Industrial Corporation in 2006.
It has 4 offices based in Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta and Karachi.
It aims to provide employment for small marginalised craftsman and artisans around Pakistan.
It works to revive traditional handicrafts through skill enhancement, product development, technological output, quality control and market and financial support.
I was honoured to interview Dr Badar Siddiqui of The Al Falah Trust and Embroidery Project, December 2011.
The Al Falah Trust and Embroidery Project was founded by Mrs. Shahina Siddiqui in 1995.
The organisation supports disadvantaged and marginalised women from, Taluka, Mirpur, Sakhro, Thatha (Tatta) in the province of Sindh.
Traditional embroidery and home accessories are produced using traditional patterns and colours that promote their rich heritage which would otherwise be lost or forgotten.
I was privileged and honoured to interview Ms Zehra Khan, Mrs Jameela and many other ladies at the The Home Based Women's Workers Federation during December/January 2011 and February 2015.
The Home Based Women's Workers Federation with over 4600 members in Quetta (Balochistan) and Hyderabad and Karachi (Sindh).
It's main aim is to advocate and lobby for the rights of home based women workers in Pakistan.
The Federation provides training such as embroidery, leather production and jewellery and fashion design.
Ladies proficient in their chosen skills are selected to mentor and train ladies in their local areas and campaign for a decent living wage by negotiating fair prices through collective bargaining.
HBWWF hopes to develop international partners who can provide assistance with marketing, advertising and product development.
During Ramadan my husband decided to take a weeks annual leave to Kuala Lumpur and I was luckily enough to accompany him.
I'd never visited Malaysia during Ramadan so I felt privileged to see Malaysia from an fasting perspective.
I enjoyed visiting the Butterfly Park which was an oasis of calm and tranquility in the concrete jungle but didn't like the netting.
This June I continued to fast during Ramadan and took a break from Facebook.
I devoted my time to abstain, reflect and connect with the Almighty. Concentrated on my health and prayed for my beloved parents.
I managed to sign up to Do Nation. Do Nation helps people commit to make small behaviour changes that add up to a better world.
I supported the I AM ROHINGYA theatre production group in Canada.
Enrolled on the Future Learn Fashion Revolution Course 'Who Made Your Clothes?'
The Macmillan Campaigns team UK asked to share my World Cancer Day vlog about my late mother on their site.
As a passionate advocate for fairtrade and ethical slow fashion I decided to enroll on the Future Learn 'Who Made Your Clothes?' Course with the University of Exeter.
This online course is free but you can receive a certificate and unlimited access to resources and materials for $39 which is approximately £30 depending on the exchange rate.
I thoroughly enjoyed the course and my participation with all the other candidates.
I also enrolled on the second course Social Enterprise: Turning Ideas into Action.
Lesson 3.11, all participants were asked to submit a video about their social enterprise and enter the International Social Innovation Challenge 2016.
I won my social pitch and would like to congratulate Palma Milicevic and Emma Butler who were awarded consultancy and support.
Thank you to all the candidates who entered and voted for me.
Many thanks to Dr Sara Calvo, Jeremy Wade and all the other mentors.
Best wishes to everyone with their social enterprises.
This years World Fair Trade Organization campaign was 'Agent For Change', Human Chains for Fair Trade and the Planet.
I am very grateful to the beautiful ladies at the Dubai Business Women Council who very kindly modelled the Agent for Change posters for me.
I also managed to go to Jumeirah beach and conduct an impromptu beach photo shoot near the iconic Burj Al Arab.
Best wishes to all fairtrade producers, artists, supporters, volunteers and friends around the world for being the voice and change for social, environmental and trade justice.
RESPECT, STAY STRONG, PEACE AND BLESSINGS!
This month I completed the WFTO Asia - Introduction to Gender course and my Six Items Challenge 2017.
Attended The Muslim Lifestyle Show said hello to the Macmillan Cancer Support volunteers and purchased fairtrade dates from the Zaytoun stand.
Travelled to Manchester, UK to pay respects to my parents. A year has passed since my beautiful mother passed away from metastatic breast cancer.
Enjoyed a vegetarian lunch and interviewed Dr Sara Parker who has designed two fairtrade puppet sets with fairtrade producers in Nepal.
Celebrated Fashion Revolution Week.
Continued to mentor and support my World Pulse Change Maker Joanna in Poland.
This month I continued my Six Items Challenge 2017 with Labour Behind The Label.
Received an edited version of my interview with my Creative Director Mrs Helen Barlow Scott of The One Line Ethical Design Studio.
Attended two events at the Emirates Airline Literature Festival.
Met Jo Malone and presented her with fairtrade chocolate and a fairtrade breast cancer bag produced by ladies at Friends Handicraft Nepal.
Attended the BE BOLD FOR CHANGE event at the Dubai Lit Fest.
Conducted an impromptu photoshoot for Odylique and the Six items Challenge.
Continued mentoring my World Pulse Change Maker in Poland.
Enrolled on the WFTO Asia's Course - Introduction to Gender
Last year I had a couple of lovely online conversations with Abi Weeds Managing Director and Emma Hopewell of Odylique - Essential (Organics) Ltd.
I was particularly interested to support Odylique as it is a leading brand of cosmetics based in the United Kingdom that pride them selves on promoting their organic, vegan, fairtrade, cruelty free ethos and specialise in treating problematic sensitive, reactive and allergy prone skin.
Late December 2016 I decided to apply as a World Pulse Change Maker.
I sent my application and hoped for the best.
I received a message from the World Pulse team early January 2017 to inform me that I had been selected as a World Pulse Vision Mentor.
I was surprised by their message as I didn't believe I was qualified to mentor anyone.
As they say the rest is history.
For the sixth consecutive year I'm participating and supporting Labour Behind The Label and their innovative concept raising awareness about fast fashion by fasting for fashion.
The Six Items Challenge simply means that for six weeks I will be wearing six items of every day clothing, don't worry I am entitled to an endless supply of undergarments and exercise gear.
I care about the millions of countless individuals producing clothes and accessories in factories and workshops around the world who deserve a decent living wage and good working conditions.
If you would like to participate or support Labour Behind The Label's work click to read more.
This February I participated in the Terry Fox Run Dubai and heard from Judith Fox.
Attended Bride Dubai with Mrs Saima Tahqiq.
Conducted a Skype conversation with Daniel Schiff of Ashoka and Fabrics of Change.
Prepared for fairtrade fortnight 2017 and welcomed my web designer and friend Helen Barlow Scott of the One Line Ethical Design Studio to Dubai.
Conducted an impromptu photo shoot and video with Helen for fairtrade fortnight Dubai 2017.
Met Andrej Smok Director of Proft Eco + Fair and Wholesale Manager-Grocery at Traidcraft.
Continued mentoring and supporting my Change maker Joanna in Poland.
This January I met with the editor of the UAE's first online ethical website Ethical Desk.
Had dinner with the UAE's first female weightlifter.
Was chosen as a World Pulse Vision Mentor.
Found a lump in my left breast, had it removed and went for genetic testing.
Connected with Patty McNally World Pulse Mentor Coordinator Portland, Oregon and organised a Skype chat with my World Pulse Change Maker Joanna Smieja, Warsaw, Poland.
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