On Wednesday 3 June 2015, we hosted our very first Ramadhan shopping evening! For some time we’ve wanted to do more to support Muslim communities in Leicester, but we’d struggled to find the right opportunity. But this year the pieces came together!
The focus of the evening was on ways in which individuals and communities could draw on fair trade products as they mark Ramadhan, an important part of the calendar for Muslims across the world. It’s a time when many Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset for 29-30 days and is followed by the festival of Eid. Ramadhan focuses not only on worship but also reflecting on about people all over the world less fortunate then themselves.
Sumaiya, one of Just Fair Trade’s staff team points out that buying fair trade products is a good way of incorporating this into day to day life.
‘When deciding to buy products with the fair trade mark you ensure that the people making those products are getting paid a fair price, you are choosing to support marginalised groups through trade not charity and you are ensuring that these groups are being paid an additional social premium to invest back into their communities through healthcare, schools, sanitation etc.’
So for our shopping evening we worked to create an atmosphere that was relaxed and informal, but with an element of challenge!
We showed a range of Kyfiyas (scarves) that we sell. They are made in the West Bank, the family-run Hibawi factory has fourteen looms to make kyfiyas The factory provides employment opportunities not just for weavers but for a number of other roles as well.
We also had a display of Palestinian food products from Zaytoun, a Community Interest Company which works to provide a market for Palestinian products in the UK. Just Fair Trade has stocked most of their range for a number of years, and Zaytoun generously donated a 250g box of their beautiful Medjoul dates for us to give to each person that came to the shopping evening! Dates are a key part of Ramadhan, the first thing a Muslim eats when breaking fast at sunset, so it was brilliant to be able to offer these as a gift!
Amongst those who came to the shopping evening were a group of young Muslim women who were really enthusiastic about working with us to find new ways of getting the message of fair trade out to their communities. We had great conversations about YouTubers and markets, rice and scarves, and several of the women offered to volunteer in practical ways to help us work out where we go next!
So we had a great evening, and we hope it’ll be the first of many! If you’d like to find out more about kufiyas or Zaytoun’s products, please give us a ring, drop us an email, or pop into the shop! As Sumaiya says,
‘Support trade that is fair this Ramadhan!’