Keren in El Guabo, Ecuador

You may recognise Keren Rego as sticker #15 from the All Good family sticker set. She is a huge Fairtrade advocate and was named the Fairtrade NZ supporter of the year in 2014. In April she came full circle, travelling to Ecuador to meet the banana farmers and kids from 5th of April School in El Guabo that she has done so much to support. We asked her to share her experiences.

on March 21, 2022
 Never in a million years did I think I would be rewarded and acknowledged for my teaching and passion for Fairtrade. The core ethics and values of Fairtrade are intrinsically a part of who I am as a woman, teacher, partner, mother and friend.

To return from my recent trip to Costa Rica and Ecuador (having been named NZ Fair Trade Supporter of the Year 2014) and take the time to reflect on what I learnt and gained from that experience has been incredible and inspiring. Being given the opportunity to share that with my school community, friends and colleagues has reinforced for me, that what I do to educate others, is infectious, so incredibly important and far from being over!

If it was conceived possible, I might be even more determined and passionate to encourage others that, if given the choice…think Fairtrade first!

Flying to South America for the first time in my life, I was like a kid on Christmas morning!

Bursting with excitement and enthusiasm to meet everyone! For me it was like travelling full circle as I came face to face with so many members of the All Good Family! I have been talking and teaching about them for years and even had the honour of my own caricature being designed for the 2014 sticker campaign!

The El Guabo cooperative, one of the oldest fairtrade cooperatives in the world, has been in operation for 18 years and now delivers fair trade and organic bananas to 5 countries around the world including: America, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and New Zealand.

We visited individual farm owners and larger scaled community farm operators-whoever I spoke to about the difference Fairtrade has made to their life confirmed that the stability and ability to plan ahead was vital to improving their lives and allowing them to be independent farmers within the cooperative. The support, the security, the environmental care taken at every step along the way!

When I spoke to Rose who works on a community Fairtrade banana farm in El Guabo. Rose said, “the stability of an official price all year around and making it stable means you can plan so then even a bank is more willing to give us a loan and you can plan for the future so your farm will have many improvements.”

Visiting the Medical Centre and 5th of April School confirmed for me just how evident and valuable the social premium is in funding important worthwhile projects.

For the last five years Point Chevalier School have been sending funds (raised as part of our annual Fairtrade breakfasts), resources and personal correspondence between the children in both schools.

Arriving at the school and being greeted by excited and enthusiastic children, their parents and the teachers, brought tears to my eyes. They entertained us with song, dance and a scrumptious morning tea! It was so wonderful to look around the school and see how the money we have raised has helped out in such a practical way with resources. I was able to speak to them about future ideas for fundraising and it was quite clear to see that the school would really benefit from a some new playground equipment so that is our new focus for helping them!

When you think Fairtrade first and choose to buy fair trade you are supporting incredible projects all over the world that get to the heart of the community and make the planet a better place to be.

Keren is a teacher at Pt Chevalier Primary in Auckland. She teaches a special Fairtrade class and each year raises money for the 5th of April school in El Guabo during Fairtrade Fortnight. Her class have petitioned their local supermarket to stock more Fairtrade products and made an award-winning Fairtrade movie. Keren's a Fairtrade superhero!