Coronavirus: Advice for Skedaddle Customers

This page is being updated regularly to bring you the latest information regarding this quickly evolving picture.  Please be reassured that we have over 25 years of experience handling all manner of situations and have a wealth of experience to help us through this challenging time.

At the very heart of what we do is an unwavering commitment to make sure you, our customers, and our global team, are safe. We are in regular contact with our partners and guides across the world to ensure their safety and the safety of our customers. This includes providing detailed advice about exposure to the virus, protective measures and symptoms to be aware of.

Our team in the office and in various parts of the world are closely monitoring the situation. This involves constantly monitoring advice from the UK FCO, global and local health authorities. With travel restrictions now in place across many of the destinations we visit in spring, travellers can expect some upcoming tours to be affected. With that in mind if you are booked on a Meet the People tour due to start in the next few weeks we’ll be contacting you directly – if we haven’t already done so. When we do, we’ll be looking to postpone or cancel trips as required and offer alternatives. We will always be as flexible as possible.

We are also members of ABTA, so are kept right up to date with all the latest travel advice. They provide up to date answers on some of the most frequently asked questions, including countries which the UK government is advising against travelling to, which can all be found can be found on their website:

abta-logo-700x394Here are some other useful sources we recommend taking a look at for the latest information related to the outbreak:

And of course, we are here to discuss any concerns you may have.  Call us on 0191 2651110 or email info@skedaddle.com. In the meantime, here are some common questions and answers we’ve been handling which we wanted to share with you…

Can I expect my tour to be cancelled?
With customer safety and wellbeing our number one priority, it goes without saying that we will always follow FCO advice, and we will not operate any holidays to areas where the advice is against all non-essential travel. Where we cancel holidays for this reason, we’ll be in touch to find the best solution for you. Decisions about when to cancel upcoming tours are made on a rolling basis, as the advice can change at any time. Where the advice for a country is temporarily against all non-essential travel, we will not normally cancel tours more than 4 weeks before the date of travel.

What are my options if I decide I would like to cancel?
Standard booking terms and conditions apply for anyone who wishes to delay, transfer or cancel their booking due to Coronavirus concerns. If you are considering cancelling do contact us to discuss and we will help you work out the best option for you. We are committed to running our tours safely for the customers who do still want to travel, where the FCO advice hasn’t changed. This also supports our local partners, suppliers and the communities we visit, where often tourism is an important source of income.

BlockprintingWhat can I do before, during or after a tour with you, do you have any advice?
By now we’re sure you will have heard that we all can help reduce the spread and risk of contamination by each maintaining good general hygiene – yes it’s time we all get perfecting our handwashing technique! This applies whether you’re just at home, out and about or heading off on holiday.

If you have any reason to believe you may have a higher than expected risk of infection, or have recently been to an affected area and are concerned, we recommend taking a good look at the NHS website which has lots of handy information for anyone planning on travelling soon. If either of the concerns highlighted here applies to you, please contact us before you travel to discuss the best course of action.

A message to the Skedaddle community…
These are extraordinary times. Friendship, community and trust have never been more important. The kind messages we have received honestly mean so much to us – you’re a lovely bunch!

We are a small, friendly business, built on inspiring people to travel in a sustainable, community-led way. Your continued support is invaluable, not just to us, but also to our extended family of small, local businesses – our many local partners across the globe, our lovely guides, incredible producers, the hoteliers, and beyond – we’re a passionate, global community and we’re all in this together.

And we promise that when you set off on your next Skedaddle trip, you can just turn up, relax and have a great time in the knowledge that we’ve got everything covered.

Thanks for your understanding, patience and continued support – it means a lot!

Paul, Lizzie, Hannah and the Skedaddle Team

Women in Coffee – Meet Martha Mhango

We all love our morning coffee. But less of us know how it got from the bean into our cups. If you’d like to learn a little bit more about exactly where some of your favourite fair trade coffees originate, join us on a Meet the People Tour to northern Malawi, to meet some of the farmers who harvest the coffee beans for Traidcraft’s delicious coffee.

Mzuzu Coffee Planters Cooperative Union Limited (MCPCU), spread across Northern and Central Malawi, have been harvesting coffee since the early 1930s. Pioneering in its field, Mzuzu’s focus is on its farmers and sustainability. Mzuzu farmers are offered training on sustainable agricultural techniques, quality and processing, and are even provided with microfinance loans to buy seeds. Mzuzu also owns a coffee shop, Coffee Den, which provides an internet service and sells coffee and souvenirs, and Coffee Suites, a guest house in town which brings a lot of business to the area.

Unlike any other cooperative in the area, Mzuzu also runs a “Women in Coffee” programme, implemented to empower women farmers and increase their personal income by selling coffee grown by women to buyers all over the world. As a result, there are over 650 female farmers across the six cooperatives! This is drastically more than regular plantations in the area, who aren’t part of the Union.

It is at this point in our journey that we head to the hills of Malawi’s Rumphi district, to meet Martha Mhango. Martha started out as a coffee farmer in Phoka Coffee Cooperative, one of the Union’s six cooperatives, and since 2016 has been the elected Chairperson of Nkhonthwa zone. 

coffee-quote-1Martha is a huge advocate for the Union’s “Women in Coffee” programme, as she has been able to provide for her family in a similar way that a man in her community can. 

The fair trade premium that women like Martha receive is split into two. Half goes to the ‘zone’ for community development, for the likes of coffee washing stations, bridges and teachers’ houses, and the other half goes directly to the farmer herself.

coffee-quote-2

Another great thing about the Mzuzu’s is that the waste biproducts from the coffee production comes back to the farmers to use as a fertiliser, minimising waste and helping increase yields in following years. 

With the help of the Union, Martha’s farm’s vision for the future is to have solar energy and water in their primary school, and to develop netball and football facilities.

If you’re inspired by Martha’s story and would like the opportunity to meet farmers just like her, and hear their stories for yourself, why not secure your place on our Meet the People tour in Malawi? Alternatively, you can get involved with people like Martha from the comfort of your own front room, by choosing Traidcraft’s Fairtrade coffee, cultivated by farmers who are treated with respect and paid fairly, throughout the developing world.

Win a Meet the People Tour with The Traidcraft Exchange Raffle

Traidcraft Exchange’s second Raffle has some top class prizes for you!

The raffle is running until the end of April 2020, so whether you’re buying tickets for yourself, selling them to friends and family or at an event over the next few months, we hope you get involved. You could sell raffle tickets at your Big Brew celebration during Fairtrade Fortnight, at any events you’re holding over Easter or at school, work or amongst your friends and family.

To order raffle ticket books, please click here or get in touch via email or on the phone on 0191 497 6445.

To buy virtual raffle tickets, click here.

1st Prize: A trip to India with Meet The People tours

MTP+logoMeet The People Tours offer small groups of people an opportunity to gain an authentic insight into a country’s people and culture, visiting fair trade producers and development projects far removed from any tourist trail. You’ll experience life in local communities and enjoy the sights, sounds and tastes of a country’s natural wonders and cultural heritage.
Find out more at www.meetthepeopletours.co.uk

2nd Prize: A two night stay in the Lake District at Low Wood Bay Resort & Spa

low-wood-bay-resort-spa Located in the heart of the Lake District National Park UNESCO World Heritage Site, Low Wood Bay Resort & Spa has one of the most enviable locations in the world. The view from the resort over England’s longest lake, fells and mountains is truly breath-taking.
Find out more at www.englishlakes.co.uk

 

3rd Prize: Apple iPad

dhe-haivan-cbfeTesD7wo-unsplash2019 Apple iPad Air 10.5”, A12 Bionic, iOS, Wi-Fi, 64GB, Space Grey

And also…

4 Fair Trade Hampers from our friends at Traidcraft PLC.

Raffle closing date: 21st April 2020
Draw will take place: 30th April 2020

Traidcraft Exchange

By taking part in Traidcraft Exchange’s raffle you’re helping challenge the injustices we see in world trade right now. You’re helping people like Mathew, a banana and livestock farmer in Tanzania, to earn more money from the hard work he does every day so he can improve the quality of his family’s life and ensure that his baby son, Gracious, has a future full of hope. To find out more about Mathew and the project he’s involved in go to: https://traidcraftexchange.org/christmas.

Untitled
Terms and conditions – For full terms and conditions go to
www.traidcraftexchange.org/raffletandc

Prize details:
1st prize: choose either a tour for 2 people (non-flight inclusive) or a tour for 1 person PLUS return economy flights from the UK on the recommended flights for the tour. Subject to availability and the tour reaching minimum numbers.  Your tour must be taken by 30th April 2021.
2nd prize: 2 nights Bed & Breakfast at Low Wood Bay Resort & Spa, dinner on one night and a bottle of fizz in your room on arrival. Subject to availability. Does not include stays over bank holidays or Christmas/New Year.

Where to go when? Our guide to a year of fair trade holidays

If you are looking for a fulfilling journey to inspire and invigorate ,then browse our guide for holidays you don’t want to miss:

Early escapes with a warm welcome: Start the year with inspiring stories from communities and cooperatives in Latin America! Our tours in Cuba and Chile journey through stunning landscapes and cultural capitals visiting farmers whose ingenious techniques and fascinating histories are full of inspiration. Book now to ensure you don’t miss out!
More spring options in: Nepal and Western India

Summer’s in sight: As the warmer weather reaches the UK we head to Africa where the cooler (but still very pleasant!) temperatures in Malawi and Eswatini attract incredible wildlife. In between the fabulous fair trade visits we can often be found rhino and elephant spotting.
More summer options in: Peru and Thailand

Autumn Adventures: October is the perfect time to head to two of our favourite destinations for a celebration of culture and tradition. In Northern India we take a boat trip on the Ganges and meet weavers in Varanasi, whilst in Ghana you can put the cocoa pods to one side and try your hand at traditional Ashanti printing.
More autumn options in: South Africa and Vietnam

In search of winter sunshine: For those planning ahead, join us in Costa Rica for the coffee harvest, or travel with us to the heart of fair trade in Bangladesh where we meet paper makers, embroiderers and communities pioneering organic farming.
More winter options in: Sri Lanka and Southern India

To browse our full programme of holidays click here. To check availability, have your questions answered then you can call us on 0191 2651110 or email us at info@skedaddle.com

Introducing Khoisan Salt to our South Africa Tour

At the same time as guaranteeing our next departure to South Africa we are delighted to announce a new fair trade group to the Meet the People experience.

IMG_1867

Khoisan Salt are behind the delicious flakes of Sea Salt in Traidcraft’s Eat Your Hat Milk Chocolate and will be welcoming us for a behind the scenes insight into their salt harvesting in October.

Traidcraft Sea SAlt Chocolate

With the welfare and development of employees at the core of their values, Khoisan employs people exclusively from the local community and we’ll learn how fair trade initiatives help them to support their team.

Khoisan

The enthusiastic team will be introducing us to the techniques they use in hand-harvesting salt crystals to produce natural, unrefined sea salt.

IMG_0956

We can appreciate the significance of working in harmony with the environment as we later visit the nearby West Coast National Park, home to around 250 species of birds and where we hope to spot zebra alongside the ostrich, flamingoes and penguins.

Khoisan Flamingoes

Following visits to farmers on the edge of the Kalahari and the unique ecosystems of the highveld, this is a great opportunity to understand the importance of fair trade in a coastal region before we head on to the lush vineyards of the Western Cape.

Tommy and Poppie

South Africa is a big and truly beautiful country with a unique history. Visits to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Table Mountain and Cape of Good Hope let us appreciate some of the incredible natural beauty whilst meeting fair trade producers, learning from development projects in Cape Town and taking a trip to Robben Island, help us to better understand life in this complex country.

Table Mountain and Cape Town, South Africa

Would you like to join us in South Africa? There are still 6 places available on this year’s tour and details of our tour in 2020 are available online. For more information visit www.meetthepeopletours.co.uk/SouthAfrica

To receive a detailed day by day itinerary or for up to date availability contact Hannah or Lizzie on info@skedaddle.com or by phone at 0191 2651110 

Sue meets the people behind Divine’s delicious chocolate in Ghana.

Sue Fisher, a volunteer at Fair Do’s Fair Trade shop in Cardiff joined us on our Meet the People Tour to Ghana in October. She shares her highlights of meeting palm oil producers at Serendipalm, the people behind Divine’s delicious Easter eggs and discovering Fairtrade bananas with VREL: 

The 2-week trip to Ghana was a very varied and exciting itinerary with visits to Producer groups and many of their projects and places of work. These included several school visits, a clinic, wells, community centres, IT facilities and many instances of women’s groups. We also visited several craft enterprises where we took part in ‘workshops’, local markets, and historical visits to learn about Ghana’s liberation from its colonial past, the traditions of the Ashanti Kingdom and the horrors of the slave trade.

Of particular interest to Fair Do’s were the two visits to producers whose products we stock in the shop. The first of these was Serendipalm, the sustainable palm oil project which provides the oil for Traidcraft’s Clean and Fair range of soap products we sell. We turned off the pot-holed main road, up an even bumpier track, to pick up Sanaa, a young woman eco-horticulturalist who is employed by Serendipalm to advise on sustainable growth of the oil palms and other crops. Sanaa took us to a community hall where we met a farmers’ committee. They were keen to tell us about the benefits of a regular income they knew was part of the Fairtrade deal. In the hall were about eighteen computer terminals and while we were there a class from the local high school came in for a lesson. This IT resource is funded by the Fairtrade premium and the IT teacher, Samuel, told us what a difference it made to have this accessibility to modern technology. (Elsewhere we were to see a class crowded around one laptop).

Visiting SerendipalmSanaa then took us to a palm oil forest. It did not look like the regular plantations I had seen in photographs from Indonesia. There were several other species of tree, much bird song, and the trees were taller than I expected. We met a farmer there called Joseph, who demonstrated how he cuts down the bunches of fruit with a sharp knife at the end of a very long pole. The bunches of fruit were left in heaps at the side of the road to be collected for processing.

Sanaa also took us to a part of the forest where she was planting various other trees, notably cassava and cocoa, as shade for the development of the oil palms at different stages over a twenty-five year growing period. She told us how she was encouraging local farmers to adopt these sustainable methods. The other plants also gave their own useful crops, with cassava taking only six months to mature, and being replanted just from a single twig.

We were next taken to the headquarters of Serendipalm where several women were seated in groups in a large open shed, with substantial tin bowls full of the bunches of fruit, carried there on the head. The women were busy separating the individual fruits from the bunches, while others took away the remaining fibres for making into fertiliser. The women are paid on piece-rate and their individual sacks were labelled with their names. We had lunch with them in their canteen, which was a good chance to have a bit of a conversation.

palm oil picker 3

We saw the first stages of the pressing process to produce the palm oil. It was still very cloudy as it emerged from the machine. It is red in colour and a feature of Ghanaian cuisine, notably in the rice dish ‘Red Red’.

Later we were taken to two local projects financed by Serendipalm from the Fairtrade premium. The first was a maternity clinic where local women can receive check-ups and have the services of a midwife when giving birth. The second project was a bore well in a local village which had been built at the request of local people, with particular attention paid to an older woman’s report of a former well she remembered in a particular spot from her childhood. This was investigated and found to be a good source of fresh clean water and we were delighted to see that this woman had been placed in charge of the well, controlling flow and distribution of extra water.

I felt that the visit to Serendipalm had taken me back to the roots of the Fair Trade movement, first experienced back in 1981 when I saw women in Bangladeshi villages weaving the jute sikas that were one of Traidcraft’s most popular early products. Now here I was in 2018, seeing the same security of a regular income prized by workers, seeing pride in the community projects made possible by Fair Trade conditions, and feeling a real sense of women’s work being valued and their voices heard.

Our next visit, while staying in Kumasi, was to the famous Kuapa Kokoo Farmers’ Union co-operative which supplies Divine chocolate. We started at the Co-operative House, a community centre in the village of New Koforidua, one of 200 communities supported by Kuapa Kokoo, where we met representatives of the local farmers’ co-operative. The Vice-chair and Treasurer were among several women farmers who had been delegated to meet us alongside their male colleagues. We asked each other questions and presented donations, predetermined by the tours in the cost of the trip, in thanks for their time. The village regards itself as Africa’s first Fairtrade Town after adapting the Fairtrade Foundation’s five critieria of FT Town status, influenced by links with Garstang, the UK’s first FT Town. We were able to chat to children in the community’s school as we left.

Divine ChocolateWe started the next day at the headquarters of Kuapa Kokoo (KK) with a Powerpoint presentation by Esther, KK’s Communications Officer. KK represents about 100,000 farmers in 57 Co-operative groups. Esther showed the detailed structure of KK and the many levels of representation for which elections are held. Of the Board of Directors, four of the seven are women. We also met Luke, the CEO of the organisation, who was very welcoming.

The structure of the co-operative allows for almost 500 long-term projects, including several wells, corn mills and schools. There is a range of committees, including welfare and gender. There is a Healthcare Programme with its own mobile clinic and medical staff. Importance is attached to a Child Labour Programme and a Labour Rights Project. A Productivity Enhancement Programme had involved the planting of 500,000 seedlings. All of these are financed by the Fairtrade Premium. The organisation also takes pride in its sustainable environmental interventions, including dynamic agro-forestry and diversification of crops. With heredity issues over passing on land, young women were being trained to take over from ageing farmers, a sign of the determination to empower women.

Ghana Kuapa

Esther took us to a beautiful forest of cocoa trees where we followed a farmer on an indistinct path through the dappled light, with the glowing yellow of the cocoa pods all around. On the floor of the forest were frequent patches of red petals from the ‘Christmas trees’, tall and protective of the much lower cocoa trees. We saw a patch of light in the distance and gradually arrived at a group of workers in a clearing busily opening up cocoa pods with machetes to extract the beans, which were covered in a white sticky sap.

There was much laughter and the rejected pods were flung into a heap with the discarded empty ones to be turned into compost. Some of the men demonstrated how they cut the cocoa pods from the trees with long-handled machetes. We were next shown how the beans are fermented for about a week in heaps in the forest covered by black plastic and branches. You can smell their location! They are turned two or three times in the week and at the end of that time the white covering has disappeared.

 The next stage is to dry the beans in the sun for about two weeks. This is done on racks in villages or on the ground – it is a common sight in the region. The beans are turned frequently and sub-standard ones removed – we had a go. Next, we saw where the beans are weighed and piece-rates worked out from a record book. We visited the local school in that particular village, where we presented a Welsh flag, well-received because of Ryan Giggs! Our last Kuapa Kokoo visit was to the depot where the 64 Kilo sacks of beans are stacked to the ceiling and loaded for export, up to 700 at a time.
salamatuandelvisdryingbeans- Kim Naylor

Kuapa Kokoo prides itself on the empowerment of women and its community projects. It is a highly-organised and structured company. Like many Fairtrade certified organisations, both Serendipalm and Kuapa Kokoo sell as much as they can to Fairtrade companies, both in the UK and in Europe, but there is never enough demand, so they also supply Rainforest Alliance and commercial outlets.

Our third Fair Trade visit on the holiday was to the Volta River Estates Ltd Banana Company, which supplies FT bananas mainly to UK supermarkets, including Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, M&S, and the Co-op. Again, they sell their surplus as non-FT, sometimes to Fyffes. Their pride in their community projects, particularly supplying IT equipment and new buildings to schools, was very evident, as was their encouragement of women. We were particularly pleased to meet one woman tractor driver who had been recruited from the banana-washing section in the processing plant and given training to become manager of the compost plant producing fertiliser from left-over banana tree stalks, wheat stalks, and chicken manure. She was turning the drying heaps of these and mixing them as she drove along.

1_Mwps9A8khYMC1ihKPgMNxQ

This trip was a re-affirming experience for me, showing strongly the roots of the Fair Trade movement still in action in people’s lives, particularly in the empowerment of women and projects to benefit whole communities.

For more information on our Ghana tour and to find out how to visit click here to browse our website and download a detailed tour dossier. Alternatively contact Hannah by calling 0191 2651110 or email info@skedaddle.com

Discover Malawi, the warm heart of Africa

It’s for good reason that Malawi is often described as the warm heart of Africa, and the friendly welcomes and inspiring stories make for an unforgettable Meet the People holiday.

Our tour explores the north of the country where the land rises from the warm shores of Lake Malawi up into hills perfect for cultivating delicious coffee, and levels out at the Nyika plateau where we go in search of zebra, elephants and the elusive leopard!

Beautiful Views
The first stop on our journey north gives us a delicious taste of what is to come as we settle down in the local café for a delicious mug of Mzuzu coffee. In the coming days we meet smallholder coffee farmers like Martha who shows with pride her plot of organic coffee bushes and explains how she cares for the plants and ensures that only the best quality cherries are taken for harvest.

As we travel from place to place, the team of local guides make every stop an experience as we shop at village stalls to stock up on essentials of fresh tomatoes and bananas and learn a few greetings along the way. You might even want to try your hand at making nsima using the traditional technique to pound the flour!

Malawi (16)[2]

No trip would be complete without taking time to enjoy Lake Malawi. Formed by a fault in the Great Rift Valley, the ancient lake is always a highlight. On the northern shores we join farmers as they gather their harvest of Kilombero rice. A speciality grain known throughout Malawi for its quality and taste, at this cooperative it holds a special significance as the fair price they receive is making schooling accessible for farming families and funding scholarships for children in the community.

KarongaIf you’ve been captured by the delicious aroma of Mzuzu coffee or want to see the rice harvest for yourself then join us in June as we travel to meet the people!

For more information about our holidays in Malawi and around the world visit: www.meetthepeopletours.co.uk email: info@skedaddle.com or call us on 0191 2651110.

Sunset over Lake Malawi

Christmas Appeal from Traidcraft Exchange

This Christmas and beyond, Traidcraft Exchange will be raising funds to help the most vulnerable producer groups affected by changes at Traidcraft plc.

You may have heard recently that Traidcraft plc has been forced to downsize and look to a new future or face closure due to falling sales and the reduction in value of the pound. The choice to restructure was unfortunately simple – reform and support some producer groups or close and support none. There will also be a direct impact on the income Traidcraft Exchange, their sister charity, gets from customers choosing to round up their orders.

Those travelling on Meet the People Tours are part of a very privileged group of people who have seen first hand the impact that both Traidcraft plc and Traidcraft Exchange has had on lives of thousands of people across the developing world. We’ve met the people whose lives have been changed for the better through trade.

It’s these people whose livelihoods are now at risk. Traidcraft will no longer able to buy and sell their products, and producers across the world, from GPI in Nepal to Noah’s Ark in India, will need to find new sources of income.

These producer groups do incredible work and we are continuing to run the Meet the People Tours so you can visit them, see their work, share in their successes, and understand their challenges.

Traidcraft Exchange is also working closely with Traidcraft plc and looking to support as many of these groups as possible alongside continuing their vital existing work with over 300,000 people living in poverty across the world.

BANGLADESHHere’s a message from Traidcraft Exchange:
“The tailored support programmes we offer will differ from group to group, but we are well placed to use our expertise and years of working closely with Traidcraft to help producers find new markets, develop new products, and make sure their incomes remain secure.

However, to do this, we urgently need to raise the money that would allow us to carry out work beyond our existing commitment to the 300,000 people we work alongside each year. This Christmas, we are running an appeal asking Traidcraft supporters to pledge additional resources to help us take on work helping these vulnerable producer groups.

It is vital that people like you pledge your support for the producers affected by this news. You can support the appeal by donating here 

If you’d like to be kept informed about the impact of Traidcraft’s news on producers, and the work that Traidcraft Exchange hopes to do to help them at this time of great difficulty, please do email hello@traidcraft.org to ensure you receive updates and information.

We’d love to hear from you, and learn about your experiences meeting producers across the world. You can also call us on 0191 497 6445, or write to us at Traidcraft Exchange, Kingsway North, Team Valley, NE11 0NE.”

Carrie meets fair trade Swaziland

In June, Carrie from the Marketing Team at Traidcraft joined the Meet the People tour to Swaziland (now Eswatini). Often described as Africa-in-a-nutshell, Swaziland not only boasts incredible wildlife and spectacular scenery but also a thriving network of fair-trade producers. Carrie observed this phenomenal culture for herself and here she describes her experience meeting the people behind the traditional handicrafts of this tiny African kingdom.

‘Creative Swaziland. One of the smallest countries in the southern hemisphere but what it lacks in size it certainly makes up for in experiences.’ This was the description I read before the trip. “Sure, they all say that. Right?”

Swaziland

The experiences began on day one when we crossed the border from Johannesburg into Swaziland. The flat landscape immediately grew into mountainous valleys with rural charm. Every winding turn revealed more breath-taking views than the last and on our first night we were soothed to sleep by the sound of Phophonyane’s gushing waterfalls. Our accommodation throughout the trip was unique and diverse – we resided in comfortable tents, beehive huts and huts with no walls! Each had their own extraordinary appeal. We stayed inside safari parks amongst animals, watched warthogs warm by the fire, met rhinos, ate authentic food, star gazed and watched traditional dancing. One day-trip lead us to a rural village where we learned some conversational phrases to chat to the locals and were invited to listen to great stories, inside our guide’s homestead, about the culture of Swaziland.

RhinoThe unforgettable experiences were never ending, but the real purpose of my visit to Swaziland was to learn the stories behind the products and get a better understanding about fair trade and its effects in developing countries. It was incredible to see some of the products being made on some of our visits. We encountered great quality and imagination, exceptional skills, ingenuity, courage and determination.

IMG_0988 2On Day 3, the visit to Tintsaba was inspirational. To see the Sisal plant being stripped, washed, spun, dyed and woven into beautiful jewellery and homeware was fascinating. Over 800 women work for Tintsaba, often from their own homes whilst caring for their families. We learned how mohair is brushed, rolled and spun into yarn to make gorgeous fabrics at Coral Stephens; products that will last a lifetime and amazing skills that are being taught to younger generations.

Gone RuralOn Day 5 we visited Ngwenya Glass, who are renowned for their sustainable credentials. They considered every aspect of their business and reused or recycled everything they could. We met Black Mamba’s partner group, Guba, who teach permaculture and sustainable farming in village communities. All of the herbs and spices that are used in the sauces are grown by graduates of the Guba training courses. On Day 9 we met Gone Rural, who provide work to hundreds of women in the surrounding areas. They drive to and from each community collecting and swapping raw grass for dyed grass, for women to then weave into homewares for a fair price.

Guba

“It’s fascinating to see the incredible products made in Swaziland. The producers are so inventive, intuitive and efficient with the resources they have. I feel privileged to have met them. Swaziland, I hope to see you again.”

Carrie, Senior Graphic Designer at Traidcraft

If you’re interested in experiencing Creative Swaziland for yourself click here for more information or please call our office on 0191 265 1110 or email hannah@skedaddle.com

Phophonyane

Why Buy Fairtrade? Christine reports from Ghana

Christine joined our Meet the People Tour to Ghana with Traidcraft in November 2017. Combining her tour with an opportunity to visit her church’s Twinning Partners, Christine shares her experiences of meeting Fairtrade producers.

Picture1I have bought Fairtrade products for some time, and was interested to see how Fairtrade goods are produced, and to learn more about what Fairtrade means for individual producers. My Ghanaian friend Rev Josephine Mate-Kole Ankrah was interested too, and as I was visiting her congregation in Ghana, I thought a Meet the People Tour would be a good opportunity for us to visit some Fairtrade producers.

First of all we visited a group of cocoa farmers whose produce is used to make Divine Chocolate. Not only are these farmers paid a fair price for their cocoa beans (as you probably already know), but they also receive a Fairtrade premium. It was the use they made of this premium that was of real interest to me.

Cocoa farmers live in very rural areas, and we travelled a few hours along bumpy and windy roads to meet with them where they live and work. Working as a cooperative group, the farmers come together to agree what they will do with their Fairtrade premium. Usually they save it until there is sufficient money to do something that will make a real difference to their community. Their first priority is to improve the education of their children, through enhancing the education provided by the government. They have erected a solar light at the entrance to the school and put solar panels on the roof so that education need not stop when daylight ends. Currently they are saving to build a clinic and a house for a nurse, as their nearest clinic is a two hour drive away.

Divine ChocolateWe saw the current crop of cocoa beans drying in the sun ready to be packed into bags and sent on for processing (processing into chocolate that the farmers have never tasted!). They took us to visit one of the farms where we are able to harvest a pod from the tree, and to see how they work with their trees and crops.

One of the other organisations we visited was Global Mamas which concentrates on enhancing the lives of women in the community by providing them with training and opportunities for meaningful and sustainable livelihoods. They also invest money in business development, education, health, and life skills training. During our time with them we spent an afternoon cooking Ghanaian food and a morning making a batik tablecloth.

Ghana BatikThis is only a fraction of what we were able to see and experience during the 10 days of our Fairtrade experience. In returning to the question “why buy Fairtrade goods?”, after my visit I would say: to give individuals and communities the respect and dignity of a fair price for their products, which leads to life changing opportunities.

Many thanks to The Church of Scotland and to Christine Osman for sharing this article with us.

For more information on our trips to Ghana please call us on 0191 2651110, email us at info@skedaddle.com, or visit www.meetthepeopletours.co.uk/ghana

Ghana Top 9