Wednesday, April 24, I had the good fortune to stumble my way into the university center for report-back style presentation about a recent Fair Trade and Immigration Rights Delegation to Guatemala hosted by Western Compass.
Katie Moss, Program Director for Western Compass, started the event by giving a presentation based on the photographs she took on the trip, which included two Western students as well as herself. She started with the time they spent in Guatemala City, where they learned about the genocide of the 80’s and some about why America holds so much appeal for people coming from such a poor country.
Moss spoke about the fair trade co-ops they visited there. Co-ops are small groups of people who produce and sell products like textiles or jewelry. Their products are then picked up by fair trade organizations like 10,000 Villages or One Fair World, a fair trade store in downtown Salem. She told the story of one (UPAVIM or united for a better life) that they visited in a slum called The Red Zone where the women involved, after being mentored in business by an American woman, were able to establish a nursery, kitchen, clinic, and bakery to benefit their community.
The images from the smaller villages the delegation visited and the stories that accompanied them were touching, humbling, and inspiring.
Western Compass is an on-campus organization. Every Monday from 11am-1pm they have a table in Werner University, where they have information about what fair trade is and why it is fantastic and fair trade products to sell to the WOU population.
By Bonnie Wells