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In 2003, Nasir Javed was 30 years old. He had a great job at Talon Fair Trade Factory, where Autonomie Project’s Ethletic products are produced. He was the co-coordinator for the Soccer department and was raising a family with his wife.  Because he was working for a Fair Trade factory, he knew his kids would be able to attend school in order to ensure professional jobs for their future.

One afternoon in April, everything changed. Nasir, his father, brother, and cousin were on their way home. Suddenly, their bus collided with a tractor.  Luckily there were no fatalities, but all of Nasir’s relatives sustained injuries ranging from a broken legs to shoulders. Nasir had been seated next to the bus driver and experienced the most damage.  Not only did both his legs break, but he sustained internal injuries and bleeding.

The company bus immediately transported Nasir to a hospital in Daska, as the community medical center was not equipped to cure his injuries. Since Nasir worked for the Fair Trade factory, Talon, all his medical expenses as well as his relatives who were in the crash were covered by the company. As a part of working for Talon, the workers and their families receive medical treatment free of charge at the shop clinic and more intense issues, such as Nasir’s are paid for at a lager hospital.

Nasir’s injuries were dangerous and luckily the company bus transported him to a better trained hospital, otherwise his internal injuries may have gone unnoticed. On top of paying for Nasir’s treatment, he received 100% of his wages for the time he was an invalid.  The wages were paid 50% by the Talon factory and 50% by the Worker’s Welfare Fund. The Welfare Fund is an account were extra profits from producing Fair Trade Footwear are placed. The workers at Talon then appoint a manager for the funds and vote what to do with them such as building the health clinic in the first place.  The funds are also used to help employees in a time of need, such as Nasir’s. 

After many surgeries and blood transfusions, blood donated by other workers in the factory, Nasir learned that he may never be able to walk. Talon and the extra Fair Trade funds paid for the best medical care in Pakistan. But after experiencing another accident, a fall, Nasir was told had to have his leg amputated. During this time, Nasir, unfortunately decided to retire from the Talon factory.

But in 2010, Nasir’s children Zara, 8 and Umar, 11 were in school. Nasir hoped a well educated life for them and wanted to return to work. He decided to go back to the Talon factory so his children could continue their education and have full health benefits. Nasir was welcomed back to Talon with open arms and was promoted to the Compliance Assistant Manager. Even better, his colleagues at the factory elected him the Manager of the Worker’s Welfare Fund. Now he helps others, the way he was helped.

An accident could have taken Nasir’s life and livelihood. But due to the Fair Trade funds, Nasir and his relatives who were injured  received the best possible care and months of being in the hospital didn’t cost Nasir a thing. His family still received his wages. Even though he chose to retire for awhile, especially after his second accident, Nasir then chose to go back to work. He was promoted and became the manager of extra Fair Trade funds that benefit all the workers directly! 

Now his daughter Zara is excelling in school and is planning on becoming a teacher and her brother, Umar has dreams of being a solider or kite flyer. They can live their dreams with their Father by their side, thanks to Fair Trade. 

 

It is time to celebrate all the past and future accomplishments of the Fair Trade movement! October is officially Fair Trade month. This year, Fair Trade USA (formerly Transfair) and others in the fair trade world are looking to bring awareness to the labor and trade issues our world faces with the overall theme of “Every Purchase Matters.” This theme seems fitting since there are now more fair trade products than ever on the market. From clothing to rice and even olive oil, there is an abundance of fairly traded items hitting the shelves, and every single choice you make as a consumer directly affects producers lives.

So just what exactly does Fair Trade month entail? Along with providing education and bringing awareness to fair trade, there are hundreds of celebrations, giveaways, and discounts occurring across the country. Starting tomorrow, October 1st, Fair Trade USA will be launching a new website where users will be able to vote on which fair trade issues matter most: Fighting PovertyProtecting the Environment, Building Sustainable BusinessEmpowering Women or Supporting Education. Also on this website they will be featuring fair trade partners which will result in event announcements and product give-aways! And to top it all off, any donation of up to $10,000 made to Fair Trade USA during October will be matched 100% by the board of directors.

Now you may wonder, what can you do? First, vote on the importance of fair trade issues, spread the word about fair trade month to friends and family via Facebook/Twitter or traditional word of mouth, volunteer with your local Fair Trade Towns campaign (or start a new one in your neighborhood), or attend a fair trade event (or throw one yourself). And don’t forget to think consciously about your purchases and shop fair trade! A simple choice of deciding to go fair trade will impact the lives of fair trade workers and communities.

Lastly, be on the lookout for Autonomie Project’s celebrations as well. We have exciting things coming in the month of October! Happy Fair Trade Month!!!

-Team AP

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