Learning to can seemed like a good idea this year. Our family loves salsa. We have a Farmer’s Market and local grocery store in Lindsborg... Sixty pounds of tomatoes and countless piles of jalapeños later, I’m feeling pretty great about our future salsa consumption!
Through the hours of the canning process, I didn’t play any music. I didn’t listen to a podcast. I just enjoyed the quiet and the privilege of letting my mind wander.
The boys started their first and third grade years during this time, so I thought a lot about them and how they were doing with all of it. My husband has had a few major things happen at his workplace on these same days, so I thought of him and the people with whom he works. I thought of my extended family and how I haven’t called them for way too long. (This might be the only time I’ve wished to have a Bluetooth attachment thingie hooked to my ear so I could call while pealing garlic cloves.)
My mind went to the people I love over and over again. I cycled around them all like a Family Circus comic strip.
I’m sure moms/wives/daughters/sisters do this same type of thinking all around the world. It is a common denominator, I’d say.
Our friend Prema from Guatemala sent a message last week that has been repeatedly sneaking into my thoughts. She wrote, "I met up with an old co-worker from [a Fair Trade coop] today whom I have not seen in years - her husband started the journey up to the states 5 years ago and disappeared; he never made it out of Mexico or at least that is what it looks like. So Amy Kay - never doubt that the work you, Sharon and others are doing is not important......people here need work and when families here can prosper and thrive (not just barely survive) then everyone will be better off. It makes me so sad to think about her kids growing up just not knowing where their Dad went.”
When I was in El Salvador on a Fair Trade learning trip two years ago, our group heard from two women who were a part of the "Asociacion Comite de Familiares de Migrantes Fallecidos y Desparecidos" (COFAMIDE) which is an organization that seeks to help those who have lost loved ones during their migration for work.
Part of what they do is help bring the remains home of those who have died on their journey. Through tears, one woman shared about how horrible it was to know that her husband had died, but she was thankful to have found out. The not knowing was so hard for her and her family who had remained in El Salvador.
COFAMIDE sells these 'where are they?' t-shirts to raise awareness of their organization and make a few dollars for their work. The shirt doesn't fit me quite right and I've thought about putting it in the Thrift Store box a number of times, but just can't bring myself to do it. It seems like I would be discarding their sorrow and struggle. I'll be wearing this awkwardly fitting t-shirt until it is threadbare.
While many women south of the United States prepare the family’s beans or make tortillas their thoughts must often cycle around great sadness.
I can’t get over the fact that if we consistently pay people fairly for their good work, that they earn enough to prosper. Fair pay for awesome stuff seems like a no-brainer! And when we pay people fairly in impoverished places south of the United States, the men don’t have to try to migrate up to find work that pays them enough to feed their families.
So shop Fair Trade, please. Be it in my store or any other. In the words of Prema, never doubt that it is important.