My fairtrade journey

Lilfairtrade Shop
Posted December 21, 2016 from United Arab Emirates
Sabeena Ahmed - Fairtrade Nomad and Optimist for Change
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The Little Fair Trade Shop

My Fair Trade Journey

My fair trade journey began September 2008 whilst studying an online distance Islamic Banking and Insurance course. Much to my surprise I had an epiphany!

A paragraph illustrating how Islam promotes the equal distribution of wealth evoked strong emotions.Stories ofsocial injustice and disparity of earnings amongst the poorest people around the world fuelled a desire to take action.

In the weeks that followed I searched the internet and discovered the home page of the World Fair Trade Organization website.

I have attached the links to the World Fair Trade Organization and The LittleFair TradeShop Timelinebelow.

http://www.wfto.com/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zu115ei-YIk

The need to take immediate action was cemented when I read the document ''An Islamic Perspective of Fair Trade'' by Ajaz Ahmed Khan and Laura Thaut published by Islamic Relief UK.

I have attached the link to the pdf document below for you to read at your leisure.

http://www.islamic-relief.com/indepth/downloads/Islam_and_Fairtrade.pdf

The Journey So Far

The journey so far has been fraught with challenges and financial limitations.

As the only fairtrade campaigner, educator and modest retailer in the United Arab Emirates I have struggled to create a niche market for fairtrade and ethical products.

Nevertheless, I have never lost heart and am more determined than ever to dispel the myth about fairtrade being

'' charity.'' I continue to educate people about fairtrade and ethical artisans and groups by promoting the principles of a living wage, self-reliance, empowerment, transparency, environmental sustainability and dignity and self respect for all.

I have been supported by many fair trade and non-profit organisations around the world.

The (World Fair Trade Organization) Chief Executive Natalia Leal, Chief Executive of the Fair Trade Foundation Mr. Michael Gidney, Director of The Fig Tree the worlds first fair trade visitors centre Garstang/Lancaster, UK, Bruce Crowther MBE andMs Rita Verity of Howarth the worlds first fair trade villagehave sent messages of support and encouragement.

More letters of support and recommendation can be view by clicking the link below.

https://www.thelittlefairtradeshop.com/pages/recommended-by

I have been fortunate to receive a warm reception from hundreds of local expatriates and like minded international tourists. I call them my ''Fair Trade Angels'' because without them I could not support fairtrade organisations around the world.

The Little Fair Trade Shop has been an individual associate member of The World Fair Trade Organization since 2011 and won the BOLDtalks Open Mind Award 2011.

Ithas also beena passion tophysically visit as many fair trade producers as financial possible and I have been fortunate to visit artisans in Bangkok, Cairo, Bali, Haripur, Karachi, Kegalle, Kurunegale, Pinnawala and Rawalpindi.

I continue to meet fair trade pioneers and organisations in the United Kingdom and support their work. Ienvisage working with Divine UK, Zaytoun UK,The Muslim Council of Britain, Women's organisations, members of parliament, social enterprises, The British Counciland fairtrade pioneers such as Café Direct, Equal Exchange, Ten Thousand Villages, SERVV and many other fairtrade and ethical manufacturers, producers and artisans around the world.

Iwould also like towork with government departments and authorities, visionaries, philanthropists, business consultants, documentary film makers and anyone wanting to make a change in the world.

During June 2012 I was proud and honoured to attend the first Fairtrade Postgraduate Course at the Liverpool Hope University, United Kingdom.The course was led by acclaimedProfessor Bob Dohertywhowas thehead of marketing at Divine Chocolates UK. I met many fairtrade retailers, supporters and campaigners and their commitment and passion hasmotivated me to continue my fairtrade journeyto persuade the Asian Community in the United Kingdom to support fair trade producers.

I hope that one day Dubai and Abu Dhabi will be the pioneers and blueprint for Fair Trade in the Middle East and that Dubai will acquire worldwide Fair Trade city status.

Fair Trade Pakistan

I fulfilled a life time ambition to visit Pakistan December 2011 andFebruary 2015 and met the only two fairtrade certified organisations in Karachi and Rawalpindi. I also conducted interviews with a government official and non profit organisations who are working towards implementing the ten principles of fairtrade. Each organisation has a dual role and purpose; 1. to support rural artisans establish and develop strong sustainable projects and 2. revive traditional skills and techniques.

I completedproducing and editing a series of short films and a documentary to create awareness for fairtrade in Pakistan. I feel very honoured and humbled to be representing the most inspirational ladies and artisans around the world.

Fair Trade Videos and Documentaries

The Little Fair Trade Shop’s visit to Karachi, Pakistan.A documentary about fair trade organisations and non government organisations.

The Little Fair Trade Shop's interview with Syed Fahad Ali of The Dominion Traders.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYEahN_CgCk

The Little Fair Trade Shop's interview with Younis Inayat.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqKaDyaZwqw

The Little Fair Trade Shop's interview with Mrs. Nisreen – The Ra’ana Liaquat Craftman’s Colony.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRpU_quLYMk

The Little Fair Trade Shop's visit to Kaarvan Crafts - Pride Pakistan.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOwKKSeD2oc

The Little Fair Trade Shop's visit to AHAN - Aik Hunar Aik Nagar.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nICL9_vwQxk

The Little Fair Trade Shop's visit to Al Falah Trust and Embroidery Project.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EK4DMYy_JQI

More videos blogscan be found via my YouTube Channel Lilfairtrade

Interview for the Scottish Fair Trade Forum questions prepared by Meri Suokas.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKKSsIzMP9k

Interview for the Scottish Fair Trade Forum in URDU.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbgMq-hQGA8

Fair Trade and Breast Cancer Research and Support

During March 2012 my family received devastating news that our beautiful motherhad beendiagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. After a long and courageous four year battle with cancer my belovedmother Mrs Meshar Mumtaz Bano passed away April 2016. I remember one the last conversations I had with her where she said she was proud of me and gave her blessings for me to continue with my fairtrade work. With her final words embedded in my heart and soul forever and I am more determined and motivated to continue to raise awareness for fairtrade and campaign for social and trade justice.

Without a doubt, I cannot deny that the past four yearshas put immense pressure on my personal and professionallife andthe businessbecamea secondary concern. It was my mothers strong determination and will to fight against this debilitating diseasethat I wanted toraise awareness about breast cancer researchby supporting The Christie Hospital, Manchester,United Kingdom.

It is a honour and privilegeto support fair tradeorganisations Friend's Handicraft and Maiti, Nepal who support and rehabilitate victims of human traffickingby designing and retailing handmade bags and home accessories.

100% of the proceeds of this beautiful totally bobbles fairtrade pink handbagare forwarded to The Christies Hospital, Manchester, United Kingdom.

https://www.thelittlefairtradeshop.com/products/handbag-pink-bobbles

To celebrate the 25th anniversary ofMacmillan Cancer ResearchIbaked a few cakes to show my support for the tireless nurses who devote their lives to care for cancer patients. In particular I would like to mentiontwo amazing Macmillan nurses Bethan DanielsandClaire Gaskellat The Christie's Manchester who took exceptional care of Mum during her chemotherapy. Words cannot express our gratitude for these two caring and compassionate human beings!

Fair Trade at the Royal Society of Arts

During Spring2013The Little Fair Trade Shop's two shortfilmswere listed on the Royal Society of Arts (RSA)website supporting a series called 'Pakistan Calling.'

The links are attached below.

http://www.thersa.org/events/video/pkcalling-videos/pkcalling-videos/all...

http://www.thersa.org/events/video/pkcalling-videos/pkcalling-videos/dom...

Fair Trade Salford

While caring for my mother inManchesterI wasable to attend aSocial Business Conference hosted by theSalford University, United Kingdomandpresented Nobel Peace Winner Professor Mohammad Yunus a fairtrade ceramic plate produced by deaf artisans at Atfaluna Crafts, Gaza, Palestine. It was an inspirational day and one I will never forget.

Fair trade Ramadhan Campaign UK

The Imam at the Altrincham Muslim Association, Greater Manchester presented a talk about 'being fair' during and after Ramadhan and encouraged the congregation to support fair trade farmers and producers. I hope to visit the mosque with the support of The Lorna Young Foundation.

The Little Fair Trade Shop in the United Arab Emirates

The Little Fair Trade Shopaspires to work with consumers of all ages and backgrounds, expatriates, educators, parents and young Emirati'sto create awareness for the fairtrade movement of the United Arab Emirates.My aim istoorganise social eventsand educate the youth about fairtrade, sustainability and ethical consumerism.

The Little Fair Trade Shop LimitedsupportsAdopt A Camp, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.This wonderful organisation supportsguest workersby distributing food parcels, providing education, medical facilities and other activities. 5000 packages are distributed tomen every year and itwould be a pleasureto interview the volunteers and its director Mrs Sahar Sheikh.

International Fair Trade Towns Conference, Baskinta Lebanon

During Ramadhan June 2016 I attended my first international fair trade towns conference in Lebanon.

It was a wonderful experience and I met with many international fair trade co-ordinators from around the world.

I was asked to present a fairtrade puppet show and attended several faitrade workshops.

Many thanks to the Fair Trade Lebanon team for orgainsing such a beautiful and informative event.

To read more about my visit to Baskinta please click on the links below.

https://www.thelittlefairtradeshop.com/blogs/news/june-2016-newsletter-v...

https://www.thelittlefairtradeshop.com/blogs/news/july-2016-newsletter-v...

Fairtrade Schools, Colleges and Universities Network - UAE

Many will consider it ambitious but I hope to establish a fairtrade schools, colleges and universities network in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates.

I was invited by primary schoolteachers Ms Aoibhan Barry and Ms Zoe Wilson to conduct afairtrade workshop with childrenaged 9-12 yrs atThe StarInternational School,Mirdiff, UAE, April 2015. It was a success and The Little Fair Trade Shop raised over 700 AED for Fairtrade producers in Nepal who had lost workshops or studios in the earthquake.

Many thanks to the teachers and pupils who purchased fairtrade products and supported producers in Nepal.

I was also invited to The Preston University Ajman and conducted a presentation about fairtrade to students and lecturers at The Fashion and Design Department. Thank you to the Head of Fashion and Design Mr Saqib Sohail for his support and assistance.

The talk motivated a lively question and answering session and the students purchased fairtrade products.

During February 2016 I presented a talk aboutfairtrade to parentsat the Home Grown Children's Eco Nursery Dubai. I am very grateful to Director of Education andOwnerLucy Bruce for supporting my work and Bruce Crowther MBE who sacrificed his sleep to Skype with parents at 4am GMT time.

I am hoping that The Home Grown Nursery will become the first fairtrade nursery in the United Arab Emirates.

The Muslim Council of Britain

During November 2016 I arranged a meeting with The Muslim Council of Britain, London, United Kingdomto discuss howfairtrade could be adopted by their 500+ affiliates.

I am very grateful to Dr Jamil Sherif (Senior Advisor), Mrs Nasima Begum (Media Officer) at The Muslim Council of Britain team for their time to meet with me. I would also like to thank Mr Alistair Menzies of Traidcraft who travelled down from Gateshead to attend this instrumental meeting.

The meeting was positive and The Muslim Council of Britain very kindly agreed to promote fairtrade producers at their event ''Visit My Mosque Day'' which is scheduled February 2017.

I wish them every success and hope thatmore mosques, Islamic centres/societies, women's organisations, parents, educators and interfaith groups will support fairtrade in their city, place of worship, workplace and educational institute.

To read more about my visit to The Muslim Council of Britain and Zaytoun please click on the link below.

https://www.thelittlefairtradeshop.com/blogs/news/november-2016-newslett...

The Future

Rest assured my passion, optimism and determination to raise the profile of Fairtrade and ethical producers in developing countries especially those who are struggling with natural disasters and economic difficulties remains steadfast. I am forever the eternal optimist.

I hope to introduce more fairtrade foods and unique bespoke handicrafts to the United Arab Emirates by visiting and working with universities and schools in Manchester, London, Dubaiand Abu Dhabi.

Iam currentlyworking with fairtrade and non government Pakistani organisationsto create a fairtrade Pakistani fashion and accessories collection in memory of my late mother Mrs Meshar Mumtaz Bano. The collection will highlight and promote the traditional embroidery supporting ladies from all provinces.

Thank you for taking the time to read my fairtrade journey.

The best is yet to come! :) More fairtrade chapters to be written soon...

Many thanks to all my fairtrade supporters and friends across the world.

Love and regards

Sabeena :)

Fair Trade Nomad and Optimist for Change

https://www.thelittlefairtradeshop.com/

How to Get Involved

BE an ETHICAL CONSUMER and support Fairtrade and ethical producers wherever you live.

Thank you!

Regards Sabeena

https://www.thelittlefairtradeshop.com/

Attachments

Letter of Support Ms Natalia Leal Chief Executive of the World Fair Trade Organization
Letter of Support Dr Bob Doherty, University of York, United Kingdom
Letter of Recommendation Mr Harun Rashid Khan General Secretary The Muslim Council of Britain
Letter of Support Mrs Lucy Bruce Director of Education and Owner Home Grown Children's Eco Nursery
Letter of Support Mr Alistair Menzies - Head of Commercial Business Traidcraft
Letter of Support Mr Shakeel Abro - AHAN
Letter of Support Ms Zehra Khan - Home Based Women's Workers Federation
Letter of Support Bruce Crowther MBE Director of The FIG Tree

Comments 5

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jlanghus
Dec 21, 2016
Dec 21, 2016

Welcome to World Pulse, Sabeena. Thanks for sharing your journey and all about your store. I look forward to seeing more posts from you and seeing how your store is doing and what causes you are supporting.

Lilfairtrade Shop
Feb 04, 2017
Feb 04, 2017

Dear JLanghus,

Good Morning and Assalaam Alaikum (peace and blessings),

Thank you for your message.

This year I will be participating in the Six Items Challenge with Labour Behind The Label for the sixth consectutive year.

http://bit.ly/SixItemsChallenge2017

https://www.thelittlefairtradeshop.com/blogs/news/125290311-six-items-ch...

https://www.thelittlefairtradeshop.com/blogs/news/126724103-six-items-ch...

Preparing for fairtrade fortnight 2017 in Dubai, UAE and inviting educational institutes and supporters to participate.

https://www.thelittlefairtradeshop.com/blogs/news/126585543-fairtrade-fo...

Participating in Fashion Revolution Day UAE April 2017.

http://fashionrevolution.org/

I'm hoping to hold a fashion show exhibiting fairtrade/ethical clothes and accessories.

Lots more ideas in the pipeline.

Would love to hear your news.

Warmest regards and Walaikum Assalaam

Sabeena

Fair Trade Nomad and Optimist for Change

https://www.thelittlefairtradeshop.com/blogs/news/126585543-fairtrade-fo...

jlanghus
Feb 05, 2017
Feb 05, 2017

My you are a busy lady. My vision is to create a web platform that would help either women who have been sex trafficked in Spain or have been domestically abused. I would sell products, preferably shoes, that were made by them, giving them a job, freedom and dignity back. This is my post, if you are interested:https://www.worldpulse.com/en/community/users/jlanghus/resources/73726

JulieG
Feb 03, 2017
Feb 03, 2017

Dear Sabeena,

Yes, welcome to World Pulse and thank you for sharing your journey here.  It is inspiring to read about the pioneering work you are doing for fair trade in UAE and I admire your ambitious goals.  I definitely learned more about the principals of fair trade through your writings here.  I look forward to reading more chapters in your journey.

Warmly,

Julie

Lilfairtrade Shop
Feb 04, 2017
Feb 04, 2017

Dear Julie,

Good Morning and Assalaam Alaikum (peace and blessings),

Thank you for your kind words of support and encouragement.

I hope you will support Fair Trade USA and their campaign for a fairtrade Valentines Day.

http://fairtradeusa.org/

Warmest regards and Walaikum Assalaam

Sabeena

Fair Trade Nomad and Optimist for Change

https://www.thelittlefairtradeshop.com/