Ten Dutch students, all around 20 years, old have found their places in the harvesting process. One washes bananas, another puts stickers on the bananas, a third loads banana boxes into the truck. They’re not allowed to carry the banana bunches from the fields, because the farmer can’t risk that the fruit will be damaged. And they can’t use machetes and other sharp tools. But they’re learning many of the other tasks in the harvesting process. All day they work with the regulars, until the last box of bananas is in the truck.
They’ve spent over a week in El Guabo. Lived with farmers’ families, gotten to know the office, interviewed the employees, worked on farms. They’ve also had time to visit the chocolate factory Pacari in northern Ecuador, where fairtrade cacao is used.
They want to learn as much as possible about Fair Trade before they return to Holland onj Wednesday. There, they’ll be opening a restaurant where they’ll serve Ecuadorian food and tell the guests about Fair Trade during one month. The money they earn will be donated to IFAT, http://www.ifat.org the international organization for Fair Trade.
During their days here they’re taking pictures and video clips of the banana farming, to show in their restaurant. They’re also writing a blog from Ecuador. Joanne Bos is one of the students.
-I’ve been an intern in a fairtrade company, and I knew about all the positive sides of Fair Trade. Here I’ve seen that there are problems as well, like the fairtrade price not being so good, and that’s confusing. Now I’m thinking about what to say to the guests in the restaurant. People only remember the negative things, and forget the positive parts.
She likes Asoguabo’s good working atmosphere.
-People say it’s like a family, and that’s a good thing. To be able to joke and have fun at work is necessary to survive.
- The students’ trip to Ecuador is a collaboration between two organizations: ICCO and Happy Gift.
- Happy Gift is a Dutch organization for students who want to do something for the world. They raise money for charity through starting temporary restaurants called ”Happietaria”, since 1993. This year there will be 10 restaurants like that.
- The students in El Guabo will open two, one in Utrecht and another in Zwolle. The goal is not just to raise money, but mainly to raise awareness of the restaurant’s theme, in this case Fair Trade, which isn’t as big in Holland as it is in Finland, Italy och Switzerland.
- The youth program ”Togetthere” supports groups of students who want to work as volunteers and travel to learn. The program is a cooperation between the Dutch interchurch commission for development ICCO and the protestant mission focused organization Church in Action.