One of Mei Mei and Dan’s first questions on meeting our shareholder farmers in Nicaragua was one of the most obvious – ‘How has the Fairtrade premium been invested in helping your communities?’ And sometimes the most obvious questions are the best; as here’s just a selection of the answers that came firing back at them from a room of enthusiastic, knowledgeable farmers – just some of co-operative Del Campo’s around 4,000 small-scale farmer members.
‘We’ve built 8 schools’; ‘We’ve built 7 community centres for local communities to use for meetings, parties, training courses and other activities and events’
‘We’ve invested in 40 clean water projects in 20 communities where clean drinking water was introduced for the first time – 9,000 people have benefited’
‘We’ve provided communities with 200 ’eco-toilets’ and 10 community rubbish collection depots – also introducing recycling.’
‘We are big on health, especially natural health. We have opened a community clinic with 2 doctors, mainly using naturally herbal and plant medicine. The clinic also offers massage and acupuncture. Every month we run a clinic open day when a team of doctors from the city of Leon and anyone can see a doctor free of charge.’
‘Women! We use our Fairtrade premium to strengthen women’s role in our community. We run training courses in craft, sewing, baking and natural medicine. All free of charge. So far over 150 women have participated in the training courses.’
Apart from the variety of ways in which Fairtrade premium is spent, Dan and Mei Mei were also struck by another obvious but important factor – the co-operative ensures that funding is equally accessible to everyone in the community – the Fairtrade premium is spent on projects that benefit the whole community and everyone has to agree to how the money will be spent.
pictured: Inglys holding her go-to natural medicine & Johana modelling a top she made in the sewing class she attended.