Fair Connections has been developing as a small company over the last two years. It has taken a lot of time and effort to write the story of Fairis and his fair trade adventure and to develop the business model so that now – Fair Connections is ready to launch in March this year !
I have also spent time testing out the story and puppets in Nepal with local schools, supported by Kiran Bohara and Global Action Nepal. Some of the schools who have been given the packs are Pahar Trust Schools and other were connected to the work of GAN. Getting feedback from local teachers ha been vital and a lot has been learnt. I now know I need to find a business partner to help this Community Interest Company (CiC) realise its potential. Setting up the foundation in October 2016 to work along side the company has given me the focus and clarity that I think was needed for the company and its aims to make sense. So when a story sack is bought in the UK for use in primary schools a £50 donation will be made to Fair Connections Foundation.
Working together supporting local teachers and villages improve education in Nepal
The foundation also allows people contribute towards resources and training being provided in Nepal with the benefit of gift aid being able to be added on making your donation go even further. If you want to donate just click here and if anyone wants the packs and training to go to specific clusters of schools that they are connected to in Nepal then this can be arranged. The training and resources work best when there is a network of schools using the resource and is important that the schools is already on a journey towards becoming more child friendly. One thing I have learnt in the past year is that the puppets and books are not an entry point product. Schools first need a safe environment, basic resources such as books and a library and be starting to look at ways they can make teaching more fun and engaging. Post earthquake Nepal, some schools just need to focus on getting up and running again and make sure that the children are supported in their education. One thing that the puppets do however is bring some joy into the classroom and in some schools are being used as a treat at the end of the day to motivate children!
As well as getting feedback from Nepal I have been testing out the market in the UK and gaining invaluable feedback from schools here on the different ways that the story can be used. All of this information has been added to the educational resources which support the story sack and are available when the story sack is purchased. I have also been supporting the production of a new book and story sack written by Susan Green from the Pahar Trust. Like me, Sue has a passion for quality education and we both know and work with B K Shreshta from Global Action Nepal. A few years ago we had all noticed a lack of and need for more child friendly story books in Nepal based on Nepalese characters. Thankfully a few years later a whole range of new books have been launched written by and for Nepali people. Sue had written a book which focused more on early years based on a Baby Monkey character from Chitwan National park. Together with the support of staff at Suryamukhi Handicrafts we have developed a super cute set of animal hand puppets that are featured in the book. These are currently being made ready for a launch event on Valentines day this year in Pokhara – come back to find out more !
When I was in Nepal in December I shared this new book and puppets in a number of schools, some who had my puppet story sack and others who didn’t and the feedback was amazing. One teacher on seeing both books and puppets sets said that it was beyond the imagination ! Sharing these puppets has given us more of an idea of what to add to the back of the book to help explain how to use them and made me realise that this puppet set, with its much simpler story aimed at the younger years, made a much better training set. So the two sets really do compliment each other and once again by working with Sue from PTN and the producers in Nepal another win win fair connection has materialised.
Developing ideas for the new Baby Monkey puppet set – being launched soon !
So where are we at now ?
Both books and puppet story sacks will be launched this February whilst I am in Nepal on field work visit with my students from Liverpool John Moores University. I am going to use funds that I have raised from the Impact Marathon fund raising call through my foundation web site to provide the Baby Monkey book and story sack sets to schools in Nepal with further training provided by Global Action Nepal. The books are being printed in Nepal by Himalayan Map House and we will have a launch event in both Pokhara and Kathamandu. It’s so exciting to have them both ready to share as they work so well when put together as the people and animal puppets can then be used in so many other ways.
In the back of Baby Monkey book there is some Nepali, including how to ask for things and how to count, and in the back of my book there are other Nepali words and the alphabet meaning children here in the UK can also learn a little bit of Nepali as well. When I get back from Nepal I will be contacting primary schools to share these two resources and helping to build further links between schools here in the UK and Nepal whilst at the same time deepening people’s knowledge about both Nepal and fair trade ! Win win all round.
Both books and story sacks ready to be launched !
If you are interested in your school buying these books and puppet sets then please get in touch (firstname.lastname@example.org) and please pass on details to any interested parties. If you know any schools in the UK looking to develop a friendship link then again drop me an email and I will point you in the right directions. At the moment the puppets are only available as a full set but we are hoping to have the main characters available in the near future to be sold along with the books. When the story sacks are bought from Fair Connections funds raised will be used to provide these resources in Nepal. If you are in Nepal puppets can be bought directly from Suryamukhi Handicrafts or from WSDO’s shop Woven in Lakeside or at Fair Circle in Thamel. Both of these organisations are registered with WFTO which like the Fairtrade Foundation work hard to promote trade justice within the world.
What do you see in these logos ? Can you see the connection ?
People often ask me what changes I have seen in the last 30 years and one of the thing which is great to see is the rise of fair trade products and other social businesses developing that are all working to promote women’s empowerment through developing high quality products and paying the producers a fair salary for their work. Not all organisations are registered with WFTO and FTGN as this takes time and funds. It would be great to see the network grow and new businesses supported to further strengthen the solidarity economy. There has also been a rise on fair trade retail outlets in Nepal to meet a local and international market, such as ACP’s Dhukhuti, Sana Hastakalaand other WFTO registered outlets in Kathmandu. These shops sell a wide range of fair trade products handmade in Nepal by a range of organisations. I have co-authored a paper on the rise of fair trade consumption in the ‘Global South’ and hope to do more work in this area in the future as we have a lot to learn from these innovative organisations, many of whom were practicing ‘fair trade’ long before the word became popular! If you know of more just comment below and I will add in a link!
If you want to know more about Fair Connections Foundation then click on the link – if yo already know about the work that we are doing and just want to donate to resources and training being provided in Nepal please click here to DONATE
Fair Connections and all of its partners are committed to promoting the Sustainable Development Goals but are especially committed to those above
news of the book launches coming soon – watch this space – thanks for reading