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Pupils at St Phillip’s, Oldfield Park Junior and St John’s RC Primary schools in Bath had a visit from a Fairtrade coffee producer from Nicaragua as part of World Fairtrade Day celebrations.

The University of Bath, Campus Services and Politics, Languages, and International Studies (PoLIS) departments, visited three Bath schools on 24 and 25 May.

350 pupils listened to Erika, Lanzas Rodas, a Fairtrade coffee producer from Nicaragua, as she told them about the benefits that Fairtrade has made to her family’s life and her community.

During the special assemblies, the children were fascinated to hear Gloria speak in Spanish, which was translated into English by Maya Drummond, MA Interpreting and Translating student.  

Oldfield Park Junior School

The pupils were informed how the University of Bath promotes the use and sale of Fairtrade products such hot drinks and clothing, communicates the Fairtrade message to students and staff, and organises numerous events and activities throughout Fairtrade Fortnight.

Erika explained how Fairtrade has positively impacted upon her life by giving her a standard wage and how the Fairtrade co-operatives to improve their communities’ living conditions such as providing clean water, electricity, repairing rural roads, building schools and health centres. Fairtrade has given communities many opportunities such as crop diversification, education and work for young people and the resources to combat pests and diseases caused by coffee rust due to climate change.  

All the school pupils had the chance to ask Erika questions, while the children from St John’s and Oldfield Park Junior school took part in a demonstration to explain how unfair the current system of trade is, and to show that Fairtrade improves farmers’ income.  

St John’s Catholic Primary School

Noah Thomas from St John’s Catholic Primary School said, “It was nice learning about Fairtrade. We learned lot of facts about Fairtrade and Nicaragua. We were shown an example of a Fairtrade chain so we could understand it better. It was really fun and interesting.”

Deputy Head, Mrs Young, added, “The children loved taking part in the chocolate supply chain demonstration which demonstrated the inequality in the system and showed the positive impact Fairtrade products have. As a Catholic school, we are especially interested in the links between Fair Trade and the way it embodies many of the principles of Catholic Social Teaching, such as dignity of work and the human person, as well as community and participation.

“We often think of our role as global citizens, and this was an ideal opportunity to learn about the lives of others and be able to do something practical to help by buying Fairtrade products. We are very grateful for BLINC and University of Bath for this opportunity.”

The children were given Fairtrade stickers and a mini chocolate at the end of the talk.

The assemblies were paid for by University of Bath Campus Services and Erika’s visit to Bristol and Bath was funded this year by University of Bristol in collaboration with Bristol Link with Nicaragua (BLINC).