Tonight I was very pleased, as Convener of the Dundee Fairtrade Forum, to chair a public meeting on Fairtrade in the McManus Galleries. The main speaker was our Malwian Fairtrade producer visitor Masauko Khembo. Before Masauko spoke Councillor David Bowes spoke about Dundee City Council's recent moves to improve our Fairtrade policy.
Masauko spoke about the difference Fairtrade is making to his community. It was very interesting to hear about the production of sugar. It was also very interesting to find out how the Kasinthula Cane Growers Association, the co-operative which he works for, invested in improving their community. They have built a new school, This means that children do not have to walk 5 kilometres to school and back each day. This means that children can go to school earlier as the walk is not too long. This means that girls in particular get more education as they now finish their primary education aged 12 or 13 and can go on to secondary school. Previously girls often finished their primary education aged 16 and felt that it was time to marry at this age and therefore missed out on their education.
The co-operative also invested in a bicycle ambulance which allowed people who were ill to get to hospital quicker. This innovation had had a major impact on pregnant women who could get to hospital quicker. This had reduced maternal mortality.
The event at the McManus finished with the opportunity to have a tour of the Dundee and the world gallery which was excellent. The refurbished McManus is a project that was well worth the effort in my opinion.
In the morning Masauko visited Morgan Academy and heard about how the school had become Dundee's Fairtrade school. I hope that many other schools in Dundee follow Morgan's example. He then visited the University of Abertay Dundee.
The meetings over the last couple of days have demonstrated to me that we need to redouble our efforts to promote Fairtrade. I hope that people will take a step for Fairtrade during Fairtrade fortnight and the next few months.
The pictures show Masauko at the meeting tonight and Masauko with Sally Romilly and myself.
Thanks to everyone who made Masauko Khembo's visit to Dundee possible.