On Monday, Feb. 27, Regis students Bailey Gent, Allison Foust, Elsa Meyners, and David Mooney coordinated and hosted an event to bring light to an issue we hear on a daily basis, fair trade.
Gent, Foust, Meyners, and Mooney showed the documentary: Mama Rwanda, about Rwandan women rebuilding the country after genocide through entrepreneurship. Additionally, four panelists attend the event to help discuss fair trade and their work with fair trade.
The panelists included Michelle Korth, who works with Restore Innocence, an organization that helps victims of human trafficking. Another was Shanna Heddle, who lived abroad in Myanmar and currently owns a secondhand store that donates 20 percent of their profits to help victims of human trafficking. Additionally Katie Hile was in attendance. She founded Totonga Bomoi, an organization that helps women in the Congo create products for income. Sarah Ray, who works with Yobel International, an organization that promotes the purchasing of free trade and recycled products completed the panel. These panelists are all women, who work to promote fair trade and empower other women through their work.
The panelists shared their experiences of becoming active in the world of free trade with the students in attendance. Each woman was able to share a different story or experience that spurred them to action, emphasizing the idea that relationships lead to social change and make their work worthwhile.
“What keeps me going is watching these girls go from this place of utter brokenness…to doing so well,” said Korth.
Panelists also offered suggestions to students who are interested in getting into the world of free trade, and promoting free trade as part of their lifestyle. One recommendation was finding one thing that is important to you and making sure that product is obtained through free trade means only. Additionally, they recommended downloading the Better World Shopping Guide which provides an index of how companies perform regarding fair trade, they also stressed the need not to put too much pressure on yourself.
“When you start out it can feel like everything you do is causing evil in the world, so focus on the things that grip your heart. Try to be balanced as you approach the adjustment in your life," said Weddle.
Regis students will get an opportunity to promote recycling and sustainable living in April when the same four students conduct a clothing swap on campus, keep an eye out for that event as the semester progresses.
Catie Cheshire Staff Reporter