North East-based fair trade pioneers, Traidcraft, this week lit up quayside landmark the Millennium Bridge in striking green and yellow, in a bid to get the North East public behind their fundraising appeal.
Traidcraft lit the local landmark to catch the eye of commuters, marking the launch of its Let It Grow campaign.
The annual appeal, which runs until April, hopes to raise £600,000 to fund projects helping smallholder farmers in some of the world’s poorest countries escape poverty and build better lives.
Funds raised by the Let It Grow appeal will go to support initiatives such as the FIVE (Flourishing in Vulnerable Environments) project that to date has benefitted an estimated 30,000 people. The project helps Kenyan farmers learn new farming techniques, get organised and work together to counter the effects of climate change, helping to increase incomes, build skills and improve quality of life for all involved.
One smallholder farmer currently working closely with Traidcraft is Mwathi Musyoka – the grandmother to one year-old Purity, whose mother works away in another village.
Before joining Traidcraft’s FIVE project Mwathi struggled to make a living from her land due to the harsh effects of climate change which often meant her family, including Purity, went without food.
Through the Traidcraft initiative Mwathi has learned how to tackle these challenges, improving her knowledge and techniques.
Mwathi said: “With the help of the FIVE project things have changed. I have been able to ‘terrace’ my farm and prevent soil erosion and I can also conserve water enabling my crops to survive during times of drought. I am very proud that other farmers come to see me for advice on how to farm and improve their yields.
“Generating more income has made a huge difference to how I’m able to take care of Purity and the rest of my family as we now have the income to celebrate Christmas and Easter – something that before we were never able to do.”
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Roderick Stuart, Head of Communications at Traidcraft, said: “We lit up the Gateshead Millennium Bridge to raise awareness of our Let It Grow campaign and hopefully encourage more people to give what they can.
“Stories such as Mwathi’s highlight the reason Traidcraft exists. Mwathi’s granddaughter Purity now has a clearer route out of poverty and a brighter future where Mwathi’s family have the income to give her the upbringing and the education she deserves.
“It can often feel difficult to know how to help, but by donating to our charity or by buying fair trade products from Traidcraft, people in the UK are truly making a difference to the lives of families in developing countries.”