Every now and then we like to feature people who we feel share our vision for a better world and for changing the game when it comes to sports balls. We were delighted to hear from Alan Cram, who’s heavily involved with making a difference in Tanzania, and bought some Fairtrade balls to take with him. We invited him to contribute a short blog, and here it is. Thanks very much Alan.
Often youngsters in Africa have to kick a can around or make their own balls out of plastic bags and string when they want to play a game of football. On my recent trip to Tanzania I wanted to help change this and allow the youngsters to play with real footballs.
For the past 8 years I’ve been supporting a couple of projects in Tanzania, East Africa. “Heshima” (Swahili for respect) (www.heshima.org.uk) provides local Maasai women with textile training, enabling them to make good quality clothing and other items for selling especially to tourists. The sales provide the women with a small income, giving them a degree of financial independence in their patriarchal society.
The project also provides a nursery school for their children, and the children of other local people. In the near future, the main building will be equipped with lap-tops: this will enable local people to have training in IT skills, increasing their chances of employment, and also provide a centre where school-children can come for support with their education.
I’ve also been supporting a local Tanzanian man, Moses, who has been setting up his own nursery/primary school (www.arushahighlandschool.org). Sadly, government schools have very limited facilities, and children are often taught in classes of 50 or more. Moses wants to provide a good standard of education largely through the medium of English, giving the children a good start in life.
My wife and I have, whenever possible, been active in promoting Fairtrade for many years: she is a local rep for Traidcraft (www.traidcraft.co.uk). We saw first-hand the positive impact of the Fairtrade premium on whole communities when some years ago we visited a Fairtrade certified coffee plantation in the foothills of Kilimanjaro, Tanzania.
Whenever I am invited to enjoy the hospitality of ordinary Tanzanians, or visit the two projects described above, I always take gifts, usually of food. But for the children, what better gift than a playball or football? So there really was no alternative other than to purchase some Fairtrade balls from Balasport, knowing that they have been produced ethically, without exploitation of the workers, who also receive a fair wage.