Miguel greeted us by the side of the highway, a huge grin on his face. We were running late, having departed without compensating for the slow-moving traffic of the bustling city, and arrived flushed but eager to get started. Miguel jumped back in his car, and guided us off the highway into the small suburb where Crisil SRL is situated. A small factory specialising in hand-blown glassware using only recycled glass, Crisil SLR was our introduction into the business operations and manufacturing of fair-trade and sustainably sourced products.
Leaving home and hitting the road was the chance for us to grab life with two hands, to really experience what life could offer us. And we know how fortunate we both are to be in a position to leave our jobs, pack up our life and hit the road until the funds run out. Travelling isn’t an option for many people around the world for many reasons, especially given 71% of the world’s population live on less than $10 per day and 13% live on less than $1.90. Knowing how fortunate we are, we wanted our travels to include a focus on the ways in which peoples lives are improving and how things are changing for the better.
So we decided to explore how we could raise awareness of projects and businesses that are helping people to improve their lives every day. There are so many wonderful charities and organisations that are doing great work, but we kept coming back to Oxfam. Growing up, Christmas shopping often included a stop at the Oxfam store in Em’s family, and school friends had gone on to complete the Oxfam Trailwalker event. We enjoyed the annual Melbourne International Comedy Gala in aid of Oxfam, and we started buying their coffee beans when Woolworths began selling Oxfam produce. It felt like the right fit, and when we first went to meet the fundraising team in Melbourne, we knew we’d made the right choice.
We’ve committed to raising funds for Oxfam Australia, and while on our travels around the world, to visiting various projects supported by, and partners working with Oxfam. In South America, Oxfam Australia has production partners who make fair-trade products that provide local employment and are available for purchase in the Oxfam store, using ethical trade as a means to raise funds for sustainable projects that focus on the complex issues that cause poverty including access to water and sanitation, hunger and climate issues, health and humanitarian crises. They also work closely with local communities and larger corporations to affect legal and policy change to address systemic inequalities.
So that’s how we found ourselves in a glass factory in Bolivia, being introduced to the community members benefiting from fair-trade employment, and the art of hand-blown glass. Our time in South America also included time visiting Candela, a business focusing on food and cosmetic products from the Peruvian environment, and Allpa which supports Peruvian artisans selling traditional crafts adapted for an international market. We also managed to squeeze in a visit to Wakami, in Guatemala who make woven bracelets for an international market. Watch this space as we share more about our time visiting these Oxfam partners. And now we’ve reached Africa, we’re eager to learn about the community projects that Oxfam supports here.