In 2005 I was sitting at my dining room table with two Catholics, an atheist and a Jew. We didn’t all know each other, but we knew we all cared about Fair Trade and wanted to find others that cared as well. Fair Trade LA began that day. Conversations ensued and people became engaged. One new partner worked for Freeset, an agency that works with women in Kolkata, India who had formerly been in the sex trade and now had real work making Fair Trade bags. Since then FTLA has purchased over 2,000 bags from Freeset.
Six years later my husband and I began our trip to India in Kolkata. I knew I had to go to the factory where those women worked. We journeyed by train to the Red Light district. I felt overwhelmed walking through those narrow worn streets, teeming with people who had so little and seeing women waiting for their evening pickup. But as we entered the factory we saw women in healthy working conditions whose dignity was respected and honored. We were told it takes five years for them to learn to smile again. We also knew that their difficult journey of healing was not over. But thanks to Fair Trade and a caring couple from New Zealand who started the factory, these women can insure that their daughters will have a very different life.
As I’ve tried to change lives by buying Fair Trade products, my life too has been changed. I invite you to join me today in supporting the work of FTLA to bring hope and dignity to women like these from around the world. No gift is too small!