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Offer ‘Fair Trade’ Products May 27 -5.17.2006

By Jack Fichter

CAPE MAY POINT – Would you knowingly buy products that are produced by child or slave labor in Third World countries?
While you usually may have no way of knowing, you will have a chance to buy products where the makers were paid a fair wage, when the Marianist Family Retreat Center holds a Fair Trade Sale here Memorial Day Weekend.
The retreat center will be offering fairly traded handcrafts and gourmet food items from low-income producers all over the world through the Work of Human Hands program.
Under conventional trading systems, low-income artisans in less developed countries work long hours to produce goods for consumers in wealthy nations, but often earn less than a dollar per day.
The big profits go to the brokers, importers and retailers who rely on a system that pays low wages to producers and charges high prices to consumers, according to the Work of Human Hands program of Catholic Relief Services.
Fair Trade is based on direct relationships with low-income producers overseas. It eliminates the intermediaries who drive up the prices of the goods we buy.
Marianist Family Retreat Center Director Anthony Fucci said he wants people to be aware of the opportunity to buy products produced under Fair Trade conditions. The retreat center keeps only 10 percent of proceeds from the sale, he said.
The idea is to create a market for goods that are produced in developing countries, said Fucci.
“In return, the folks that are producing coffee beans, or statues or whatever, are being given a fair wage,” he said.
Among the items to be offered at the fair trade sale: miniature dolls from Chile, rainbow shawls from Ecuador, coffee from Costa Rica, a bird sculpture from Haiti, bracelets, glass-beaded necklaces, green tea and drums from India, pan pipes from Peru, bicycle baskets and birdhouses from the Philippines, Mango jam from Swaziland, and bamboo baskets and sea grass tote bags from Vietnam.
The sale will be held at the center, 301 Cape Ave. in Cape May Point, May 27 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a rain date of May 28.
According to the Fair Trade Resource Network, paying workers very low wages creates a cycle of debt and poverty. Symptoms of economic duress include proliferation of child slavery and illegal drug production.
Children are sold into the carpet production industry in India, Nepal, and Pakistan, according to the Fair Trade Resource Network. In Columbia, farmers stop growing coffee in favor of the coca plant used for cocaine.
Fair trade offers marginalized farmers and artisans a living wage, access to affordable credit and direct, long-term trading partnerships. Approximately, 800,000 farmers and their families in about 45 countries benefit from certified Fair Trade products.
Fair Trade may begin to ease some of the damaging social and economic effects precipitated by the World Trade Organization’s unfair trade promoting policies, according to the Fair Trade Resource Network Resource Network’s Web site.
It indicates fairly traded items represent only .01 percent of goods traded globally.
The Marianist Family Retreat Center is open year round and offers programs for youth, families, single-parent families, African-American and Latino Catholics, widows and widowers and college students, said Fucci.
Guests stay for a week and have afternoons free for the beach or other activities.
The retreat is located in the historic John Wanamaker Cottage built in 1875.
It is a cottage in name only. The building houses 55 beds in 22 rooms, said Fucci. 
Contact Fichter at (609) 886-8600 Ext 30 or at: jfichter@cmcherald.com

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