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

Discover Malawi

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

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

Caroline Meets the People in Nepal

In March, Caroline and Kate from Traidcraft’s Digital Marketing and Product Development teams joined our Meet the People tour to the Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal. Here, Caroline tells us a little bit about the special places she visited, and the people she met…

I haven’t travelled all that much really. I’ve been around Europe and the US, but I’d never ventured across to Asia or Africa, and I’d always regretted not travelling more when I was younger and had fewer commitments. Though everything always seems easier in hindsight!

When the opportunity came up to go along on a Meet the People tour I was initially a little bit nervous. I didn’t really know what to expect on an organised tour – would I like it? What would my fellow travellers be like? The world is a huge place, and the range of countries and tours was mind-blowing – there’s so much to see and do!

But when I read the Nepal itinerary, something clicked. Starting in magical and vibrant Kathmandu, we’d travel west to relaxing Pokhara, south to the forested Chitwan National Park, and then east to watch the sunrise over the mountains from Dhulikhel, before returning again to Kathmandu. Everything would already be organised, and a local Newa: guide would be there to meet us and show us the real Nepal. I signed up, and before I knew it, I was on my way!

Nepal

Nepal is a country of colour, spirituality, and warm welcomes. Hardly a moment passed by when I didn’t have my camera in my hand, ready to take a quick snap of a golden temple, pagoda, or palace – not to mention the distant glint from snow-capped mountains, and the otherworldly lavender mist each morning at dawn. From feeding elephants and crocodile-spotting to listening to traditional folk musicians and seeing living heritage in action in old Bhaktipur – I can hardly believe all the different sights, experiences, and flavours I encountered.

Rice FieldsDuring the tour our group got to meet a range of traditional artisans, from paper-crafters and ceramicists to expert weavers and knitters. My job requires me to write about Traidcraft producers a lot, but it’s a completely different experience to visit them in person. The first group we visited was the Women’s Skills Development Organization in Pokhara. We were given a tour around the site and the chance to watch the artisans at work, from the spinning and dyeing to weaving and finishing. Since 1975, this not-for-profit programme has been supporting women facing significant social and economic hardships, offering them free training and employment opportunities in a social and safe environment.

Meeting PeopleNext, we visited Kumbeshwar Technical School (KTS), an inspirational organisation offering training and employment to craftspeople in Kathmandu. Since starting out, Kumbeshwar have set up a primary school to educate local disadvantaged children, and even an orphanage! It was incredibly moving to see how happy the children were and to hear stories about the craftspeople who started out with very little and ended up working for Kumbeshwar long-term, supporting families of their own with their income. We’ll be selling a few woven products from Kumbeshwar in our Autumn collection, so you can look forward to hearing lots more about this organisation.

GPI SchoolAnd of course, a trip to Nepal wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to Get Paper Industries! Fair Traders and Retailers who’ve been with Traidcraft for even a little while will have heard of GPI – a handmade paper products co-operative which uses waste cotton, paper, and agricultural materials like banana fibre, straw, and water hyacinth to craft home accessories, gifts, cards, and packaging. We visited the artisans at work and visited the Anita Milan International Academy – set up with GPI’s aid to educate local children. Our welcome at GPI was phenomenal! I won’t spoil the surprise for any of you who visit in the future, but I’ll just say that it was an experience I’ll never forget.

PapermakingAnd finally, we visited the HQ of Mahaguthi, who market a range of handcrafted Nepalese wonders to the world. From weavers and embroiders to leather-workers and jewellery-makers, Mahaguthi offer traditional artisans a global audience for their heritage crafts. A highlight of the visit was meeting some of the traditional potters in their workshop on the outskirts of Kathmandu.

I returned to the UK at the end of March, and I’m still remembering all the places I went and the emotions I felt. Taking part on an organised tour meant I saw so much more than I would have going it alone, and I didn’t have to worry about the logistics of transport or finding somewhere to eat. It was wonderful to share the experience with so many different fellow travellers too, hearing different perspectives and stories along the way. Some of my group had been on lots of Meet the People Tours before – a sure sign that the tours all have something different to offer. I know if I get the opportunity to go on another tour I will. But the question now is, where to next…?

You can find more information on our tour to Nepal by downloading the tour dossier here. The tour dossier contains a day by day itinerary and more travel advice on the holiday.

MTP NepalTo browse the full range of Meet the People holidays have a look on our website www.meetthepeopletours.co.uk or order your copy of our brochure by clicking here. You can also call Hannah in the office on 0191 2651110 or email us at info@skedaddle.com if you have any questions or want to check availability on any of our departures.

Meeting Inspiring Communities in Peru

Exploring a new culture through the stunning sights, captivating history and delicious food all makes for a great holiday, but it’s meeting the people that takes our experience of Peru to a whole new level.

Our warm welcome starts with the greeting from Yannina at Manos Amigas. At their ceramics workshop in Lima we see beautiful figures being created and painted with intricate detail and meet the skilled people making them.

Peru Turumaki_craft_group

Traidcraft’s joyful nativity set is made by artisans working with Manos Amigas and it’s a great time to share stories of how these pieces are treasured by families back home. There’s a great sense of pride in making something that’s to be so loved by people on the other side of the world.

Whilst no trip to Peru would be complete without an opportunity to explore the spectacular Inca ruins at Machu Picchu and in the Sacred Valley, it’s combining these with visits to communities that makes for a really special trip. Following a fantastic visit to the quinoa farmers at Coopain, we make our second visit to Manos Amigas. A world away from bustling Lima, this visit is to a Collasuyo community high in the altiplano.

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With a backdrop of mountains and flamingos feeding in the distance, we meet women spinning and knitting alpaca fibre into the black, white and grey scarves we recognise from the Traidcraft range. Life here is very different to home, but the connection through fair trade is strong, and with a greeting of local music and dancing it’s a fitting celebration to end this journey.

Peru

Come and join us in Peru! To to find out more about our holidays visit: meetthepeopletours.co.uk/peru email: info@skedaddle.com or call us on 0191 2651110

Discovering fair trade in Sri Lanka

Following their tour earlier this year, David and Ann share with us their experiences of meeting the people in Sri Lanka 

What does fair trade look like at the sharp end where tea is picked, toys manufactured, and fabric woven? Who are the people who create the fair trade products we buy in our local fair trade shop and sell on the Saturday morning fair trade stall in our Church? What would it be like to meet them face to face and see their country through their eyes rather than through the eyes of the tourist?

Sri Lanka 03

These were some of the questions which prompted us to book for a Traidcraft ‘Meet the People’ Tour. We decided on the one to Sri Lanka because David had for many years wanted to find out about the land where his grandfather had been a missionary a hundred years ago. It proved to be absolutely the right decision as we explored this beautiful island meeting the people as well as visiting some of the places any visitor must see such as the ancient cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa and the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy. We even spent half a day on a beach!

But for us fair trade was the priority. What did we learn about the process of producing the fair trade products we buy in the UK? We learned first of all, of course, that it is about work! We were familiar with the pictures of smiling workers standing in flourishing fields; and we found that they do smile! But they also have to work very hard, as we discovered when we visited the Greenfield Tea Estate where Ann tried her hand at tea picking. She says: “I was left full of admiration for the women working in quite difficult conditions on steep hillsides using their skill and knowledge and accepting the intruders we were with such grace”.

Ann picking tea

At the top of the hill where the tea bushes grow is the factory where the tea is processed, from the drying of the green leaves to getting the tea ready for dispatch. This estate is certified organic and fair trade and has recently created its own ‘Organic Life’ brand for sale in London and on the internet (http://www.organiclifeteas.com). Compared with the huge tea estates which cover the Sri Lankan hillsides as far as the eye can see, fair trade is only 2% of the Sri Lankan tea market, but this farm is a sign and symbol of what can be achieved when workers and management work together.

We had the privilege of meeting the ‘Joint Body’, which is elected by the workers and is made up of some twenty people, women and men, young and more mature, some well-educated and some who have had little educational opportunity. After they had greeted us with singing, dancing, and cake, we sat with them to hear about their life and achievements. We noted at the time that this is a ‘well-focused and thoughtful group of people’. They are certainly enterprising: with the fair trade premium (that bit extra we pay when we buy a fair trade item) they have built a substantial community centre, they support the community’s children in their education, and they plan to buy a bus which will run on the route to Colombo, some eight hours away, thus improving the bus service for the community whilst at the same time making a useful profit.

Continuing the theme of work, we made a number of factory visits where we were able to see how fair trade products are made and talk with leading people in each company.

At Selyn (www.selyn.lk) we were stunned by their beautiful colourful fabrics and toys – we bought table mats and David bought a shirt. Equally stunning is their close attention to caring for the environment (great care taken to render non-toxic the waste product of their dying plant) and their care of the workers (we saw the nursery where the children of the weavers are cared for and shared their excellent meal). We visited a huge warehouse now full of people working hard making toys, cushion covers, and much more. It was stifling and conditions seemed poor, but we learned that fair trade accreditation encourages firms constantly to improve their working practices and conditions will be transformed when they shortly move into a purpose-built air-conditioned factory.

Sri Lanka 01We could go on the write about: the compost coir block factory where the waste husks of coconuts are transformed into peat-free compost for UK gardens; the Maximus elephant dung factory where elephant dung comes in at one end and beautiful paper products come out of the other; and Ma’s Spice Factory where we saw the production process and sampled the end product when they served us lunch. They even persuaded us to try our hand at cooking!

So are we still fair trade enthusiasts? We certainly are! But of course there is a lot more to it than the brief explanation of the back of a packet of fair trade tea. We became aware of how much there is still to do to bring working and living standards to the level those of us who buy their products enjoy, and of the importance of the standards set by organisations like the World Fair Trade Organisation and Traidcraft in encouraging organisations to achieve their standards.

Sri Lanka 02Perhaps most of all, we became aware of the hard daily work done by thousands of people so that we can enjoy products so well-designed, well-made, and beautifully packaged that they are attractive to us in the West who have such a wide range of goods to choose from. It is certainly worth paying that bit extra to buy fair trade!

Our many thanks to David and Ann for sharing with us this article which was originally published in the Methodist Recorder

For more photos, information and a day by day itinerary on our tour to Sri Lanka visit our website at www.meetthepeopletours.co.uk/srilanka, call us in the office on 0191 2651110 or email us at info@skedaddle.com

Celebrating 30 years – Ngwenya Glass in Swaziland

It has been 30 years since the Prettejohn family came to Swaziland and brought life back to the Ngwenya Glass Factory. Today Ngwenya Glass is still run by the Prettejohn family, employs over 70 people and supplies customers with its creations worldwide.

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For Ngwenya Glass ‘green’ is a way of life. Environmental considerations are integral to its production values. All products are made from 100% recycled glass, old engine and KFC oil is purchased, purified and used to fuel the furnace, effectively disposing of used oil. Old newspaper is used for packaging and rainwater catchments are used within the production.

Ngwenya also donate a percentage of worldwide sales to wildlife conservation in the Mkhaya Game Reserve, as well as supporting numerous orphanages and charities in Swaziland and South Africa.

Ngwenya

We visit the Ngwenya factory on our Swaziland tour which gives us a great opportunity to watch the art of glassblowing from the overhead balcony above the roaring furnace. We’ll hear of the importance and the benefits of fair trade and in the gift shop we can appreciate the finished works of art that have passed through 11 sets of skilled hands belonging to craftsmen and quality control.

Watch this video of the Ngwenya story…

For more information on our tours in Swaziland click here for our website or contact Hannah in our office on info@skedaddle.com or 0191 2651110. 

Meet Get Paper Industries, our friends in Nepal

Following the fascinating journey along Kathmandu’s crowded roads, and past temples and busy shops, we arrive to the warmest of welcomes from the team at GPI (Get Paper Industries). Coming from the bustle of Kathmandu, there’s a sense of calm at GPI, but what also comes across quickly is the strong work ethic, and a palpable sense of pride in producing only the best quality paper products.

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Established in 1985 as a family papermaking business, GPI’s aim is to provide decent, sustainable employment for people in the local area. We listen intently as Milan Bhattarai speaks plainly of the challenges they see around them in Nepal, and be it business, inequality or environmental, there are many. But Milan’s focus is not on the challenges, it’s on the solutions and it’s inspiring to hear the sense of fun and daring in some of the imaginative solutions they have pioneered.

GPI has been recognised with several environmental performance, social achievement and business excellence awards. They provide a very friendly and comfortable working environment, with a meal provided at lunchtime, and with tea and tiffin facilities for breaks. Approximately 50% of the employees are women, wages are above the national average and around double the government’s legal minimum wage. There is also a profit sharing scheme, production bonuses, and workers have access to advances and interest free loans from GPI. As we walk through the production rooms we see the skill and speed at which the beautiful coloured paper is made and finished, and meet the amazing people behind it all.Brushing_the_paper_26301

And it’s not just about the people, GPI embraces an environmentally friendly approach to producing handmade paper and paper products using waste materials like cotton rags, paper, banana fibre, straw and water hyacinth. The paper is dried in the sun and there is a waste water treatment plant in place.Drying_paper_26294

As well as the Body Shop being a supportive buyer of paper for many years, Anita Roddick herself had an enormous influence on GPI and her presence is still felt throughout the organisation. The school closest to GPI is named the ‘Anita Milan school’ after her and the founder of GPI. One of the highlights of our visit is meeting the teachers and children, learning about the scholarships provided for local families and celebrating the successes GPI has achieved in supporting access for girls in the community to a good education.Pupils_at_Anita_Milan_International_School_26261

In 1993 GPI formed General Welfare Pratisthan (GWP) to deliver development activities such as girls’ education, HIV / AIDS awareness, and environmental projects. Human trafficking, particularly of young women, is a major problem in Nepal where up to 15,000 people are trafficked each year. GWP has a number of successful projects giving women and their families alternative income generation schemes in the most affected areas and continues to raise awareness of the issues.

DSC_8929_44444Rather than allocating a percentage of profits, GPI dedicate 4% of the total of all their invoices to GWP to ensure a higher level of financial support even in years where profit is low.

On Traidcraft’s website you can find giftwrap, cards, gift bags and writing sets from GPI and learn more about their product development support which has enabled them to work with other buyers and diversify into new areas like felt-making.

GPI are one of the amazing producer groups we meet as we discover Nepal. For more details of our visits the you can find lots more on our Nepal Holiday Page or by contacting us in the office on 0191 2651110 or info@skedaddle.com

Nepal Temple

Celebrating a fairer future for South Africa

Our journey in South Africa is set against a backdrop of truly stunning scenery, but this trip is far more than just seeing the sights. As we discover the lingering impacts of years of apartheid, we celebrate the role of fair trade as the country works towards a more equal and fairer future.

Table MountainOur 14 day tour begins with a memorable visit to Robben Island, one of the Cape Peninsula’s World Heritage Sites, to visit the prison where Nelson Mandela was kept for 18 years. During the visit we understand why the island is described as the unique symbol of the triumph of the human spirit over adversity, suffering and injustice, as our guide for the afternoon, a former political prisoner, provides a personal insight into what life was like in the prison.

In the Northern Cape we visit Eksteenskuil Agricultural Co-operative (EAC). Traidcraft’s relationship with EAC began in 1995 and with their support they became the world’s first supplier of Fairtrade raisins.  We also meet the growers at Heiveld Co-operative, an organic tea co-operatives. At Heiveld, the Rooibos tea is grown and processed in the traditional way with minimal use of machinery and is harvested carefully by hand.

Raisin FarmersAlong the way we also visit the botanical gardens at Kirstenbosch with its unique flora, the famous wine producing area around Stellenbosch, and of course, Table Mountain itself. A visit with a local guide to a township and a children’s HIV/AIDS project also highlight the realities of some people’s lives in this part of South Africa.

PellaThis holiday is perfect for anyone interested in fair trade looking for an opportunity to meet the people behind the products and see the impact of fair trade. For more information on our holiday click here or contact us in the office on 0191 2651110 or at info@skedaddle.com