About me

Visiting farmers in La Cadena.

Visiting farmers in La Cadena.

I’m Annika Aho, a 26-year-old finnish volunteer in Machala, Ecuador. I work for the banana producers’ cooperative Asociación de pequeños productores bananeros El Guabo from  february 15th to october 10th 2009.

The members grow bananas for export to Finland and other countries.

I’m here because I wanted to do something different with my life, to see the world from a wider point of view, and get first-hand understanding of how the people on this earth are connected, in this case through world trade.

If you’re intrested in who sent me, where I live and what I work to achieve, check out my links!


18 responses to “About me

  1. ivette regalado

    hi !!! Annika I’m ivette , your website is beautiful ,i like much eh , because my picture is here
    i like learn english, talk too.. well..
    bye bye..
    see you in the english class…

  2. Hello Annika,

    What great work you are doing. I am working on putting together a Fair Trade travel program to FT producers. Currently we are working on a trip this summer to Ecuador for High School students in our area. It is mainly a Spanish immersion program based out of Cuenca. We want to add visits to the cocoa cooperatives and to El Guabo. Can you let me know who to contact to help arrange a visit to El Guabo.

    I look forward to future correspondence with you.


    Yuri Friman
    Amherst Fair Trade Partnership

  3. Annika

    great that you´re coming!
    We have a tourism project in Asoguabo called the Banana Tour. It´s a three hour tour to a fairtrade farm, where you´ll see the cultivation, harvest and packing of the bananas, guided by a local farmer.
    I guess you´d like to visit the Asoguabo office too?
    The person to contact is Marco Valle. His e-mail is marco.valle@asoguabo.com.ec.

  4. Yuri

    Hi Annika,

    thanks for responding so quickly.
    I will contact Marco. Does he speak english?

    Do you think we can arrange for a stay over with a family for my 10 year old son and I and possibly some high schools students from Massachusetts?

    “Speak” with you again

  5. Annika

    Yes, Marco speaks english.
    About staying with a family, I have to say I don’t know. But I’m sure Marco can help you with that.
    Looking forward to your visit!

  6. Hello I don’t know if you speak Spanish… We are promoting a blog to FT south to south. Our address is http://latinos.shared-interest.com
    I would like to send your blog to my colleagues in UK for they can see your perception about the contraction of FT markets demand facing FTO fresh fruits. We are a British lending coop and I’m writing you from Costa Rica where we have a regional office. We have another in Peru. Congratulation for your communication effort and enjoy your stage in Ecuador.

  7. Annika

    thank you! i´m glad if my blog can be of interest to you and your colleagues!

  8. Rachel

    Hello Annika, I just wanted to say thank you for keeping this Blog. You’re telling very important stories that need to be heard. Thank you for the time you’ve put into your volunteer work and your blogging!!

  9. Yuri

    It has been some time since I wrote to you. As you know my Ecuadorian colleague and I are traveling to El Guabo in late July.

    I have received conflicting information on how to handle the Maleria health concerns. Mostly that the medications can have very negative side effects, from depression to severe hallucinations. Since we are traveling with young children (3 between the ages of 6 and 13) I am concerned about this and would appreciate any thoughts you have on taking or not taking the medications and the possibilities of getting Maleria and the ease of treatment if we get it. I am investigating several avenues concerning this and would not depend solely on your opinion but it will be useful to hear what your thoughts are. My colleague, Juan Carlos is in contact with Marco about this bit I like as many opinions as possible. We are going to a travel clinic but sometimes they might be over cautious in their recommendations and your input will be helpful.

    I know you are on vacation and hope to hear from you when you return.

    Thanks for any thoughts your have on this and I will report to you about our trip when we return.

    Enjoy your vacation,


  10. Annika

    Personally, I have to say I don´t think malaria medication is necessary. During my time here, I haven´t heard of anyone getting malaria, and I´m not taking any medication. There are a lot of mosquitoes, though, so I guess if some of them would carry malaria, it would be easy to catch.
    But as you said, the side effects can be pretty bad.
    I hope you find a solution, and I´m looking forward to meeting you!

  11. Annika

    Thank you so much!
    It means a lot to know that someone is interested in the things I´m writing about!

  12. Hello Annike,
    I just found out it and very much like your wonderful blog, it is really something great to see. We are Fair Trade promoting NGO in the Czech Republic and currently we are preparing an information booklet + cookbook about fair trade products and cooperatives – and we would like to include El Guabo as one of them – so it is great so much direct information. Do you think we could use and get some photos in good printable quality directly from you or use some of your stories to our newsletter? By the way do you know Heta Niemi or Riina Jalonen from Repu? We are preparing European youth seminar on FT with them incl.Finnish participants in Czech Rep. – at the end of September. Very pitty you will not be back in Europe then? I would like to invite you to talk about your experience here. Please let me know, we would like to cooperate somehow with you and enjoy your stay as much as possible.

  13. Hello Annika, on May 25th I visited El Guabo and was impressed by the tour and info on the Fair Trade Banana Plantation. Some video clips can be found at: http://www.xs4all.nl/~mevius/Ecuador2009/film/. Look for El Guabo.
    Fair trade bananas cost me at home Euro 2.29 / kg! (Peru)
    I suppose it is not a price of your dreams.
    But, since my visit, I have more Fair trade bananas eaten then in last 10 years, hope it helps.

    Gert Mevius

  14. Annika

    Hello Ludek!
    How nice that you like the blog. I would be happy if you can use some of my stories in your newsletter! Go ahead, as long as you put my name somewhere under the text! I can send you photos in high resolution if you tell me which ones you want.
    Actually, I will be back in Finland on September 10th and will start working on September 20th. Could be pretty tight to come to the Czech republic, but if it is possible I would love to do it! What is the exact date?

  15. Annika

    Hi Gert!
    How wonderful that you liked the Banana tour! And the farmers will be happy when I tell them you are eating more Fairtrade bananas than ever! That is what they want. Because even if the price is low, if they sell more it means more income for them!

  16. Hello Annika,
    thanks a lot for fast reply. Our FT seminar is planned for 25-30th September, but we still do not know if it will happen because we are waiting for the decision for funding from National Youth Agency – you are very welcome to participate if possible for you.
    Regarding the text for the newsletter, we will have to translate it to Czech so it ll take some time, but for sure we would like to publish it (with your name of course). Maybe some series for more numbers, as there is so many interesting stories in your blog.
    Pictures I like the most – and especially als because there is so precise information around them:

    Washington Torres smiling published 15 July
    Calixto Sanchez likes the work on his farm.13 July
    Jorge Montoya lifts the banana boxes onto Manuel Sancho’s shoulders.
    Manuel Sancho carries the bananas down to the nearest road. 9 July
    Edmundo Yunga is the president of Asoguabo’s member association in Luz y Guía 2 July
    Diana Arias applies Citrex to the crowns, June 30
    Jacob Cereño checks the quality of the bananas June 10
    Marlon Izquierda, May 29.
    Maura Inga and Luis Guartatanga have lived on the coast for 40 years. They moved there from the mountains to look for work., May 25
    One person cuts down the bananas, May 20.
    Gaspar Cornejo is worrying that the market for organic bananas is shrinking.
    Diana Sagbay (i the middle ) works with her brother, father and her mother Blanca.May 14
    Her son Derlito keeps Rosa Andrade company as she’s packing the week’s bananas. She employs two people on harvest day once a week. -I pay them a little better so they’ll come back. May 4
    Felix Loja, April 29
    The banana flower. April 27
    Blanca Sanchez. April 17
    The Asoguabo clinic in El Guabo.April 7
    Marco Ortiz, April 6
    Rocío Heraz and Hugo Marquez are bringing baby bananas for packing, March 12
    Augusto Jaen guiding a group of Dutch tourists, March 6.
    March 2 1st picture on the page…

    so many….
    Would you give me your email so that we do not have to communicate via blog only?
    Thanks so much – and banana school series is just great – we would like to include it somehow to our educational material about bananas that we prepared for schools and teach.
    Greetings to Ecuador from rainy Brno, Czech Republic

  17. hola anika!
    yo ya he vuelto a italia, sig… igual los amigos se aprecian despues de una larga estadia al otro lado del mundo.
    estoy preparando una entrevista sobre fair trade e banana tour, tienes materiale video?
    buen viaje

  18. Annika

    hola nicoletta!
    videos no tengo, solo existe el video de la Asociacion que ustedes probablemente ya vieron! lo siento!
    que te vaya bien! abrazo

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