“Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.” - Nelson Mandela.

This was the most popular quote that came up when I googled ‘education quote’. Nelson Mandela was a great leader but it took a long time for people to listen to what he had to say. Listening is a big part of being educated, and when we are educated we are capable of great things. We can use our educated minds to make a positive change in the world. 

Education is a very important part of what Fair Grounds aims to achieve, creating a positive change in the world. The business side, the buying and selling of goods, exists not only to provide an income for our producers in developing countries, but enable us to deliver educational workshops and resources to young people in schools and colleges within South and West Yorkshire. For the past 7 years we have been successfully co-ordinating and delivering learning activities for children and young people from ages 5-18 around the subject of Fair Trade and other global issues. Tying in with the National Curriculum, as well as informal sessions with youth groups, our workshops are tailored for the needs of those we work with.

The resources we use have been produced by ourselves, and are based on the real-life stories and experiences of the co-operatives and producers we work with around the world. Our aim is to bring the issues of Fair Trade, Recycling and Ethical Enterprise to young people in an engaging, real and creative way. We are currently developing our Fair Trade resource pack with one of our voluntary directors, Steph, who is also a primary school teacher, and myself, a graphic designer.

Years ago, I studied Geography A-Level and one of the key things I still remember today was when we were studying global populations, poverty and international aid programs.

‘Give a man a fish and he will feed his family for a day. Give a man a fishing rod and he will feed his family for a lifetime.’

Basically, it’s all very well giving money, food, water etc directly to those who need it, but it is more sustainable and better in the long run if you provide the tools and education in which people can support and provide for themselves. Fair Grounds enables people to earn an income by making products in traditional ways for the western world and as a direct result can provide shelter, food, medicine and education for themselves and their families. 

We have been working with Elijah Subha for over 8 years. Initially we were introduced to him through a friend of a friend who met him while volunteering in Jinja, Uganda, and we have developed a great working relationship with him. Nina even went to visit him in Uganda, in 2011, and learned how to make the recycled magazine bead bracelets (and decided she wouldn't give up the day job!). She also made a video of Elijah carving a small giraffe mask out of a piece of wood. He learnt wood craft from his grandfather, and his natural creative flare meant he was able to teach himself the finer details needed to produce beautiful masks in his one room workshop with the use of a couple of simple tools.

With the money Elijah made from selling his jewellery and masks to Fair Grounds, he was able to move out of his parent's home and rent a room with electricity, which he now shares with his wife and 3 children. His next ambition is to own some land and chickens which would give him an income alongside the jewellery and masks. He would also like to take evening classes as he had to drop out of school when he was a child, because his family could not afford it.

With the support of Nina and Fair Grounds, Elijah has been able to pay for his eldest children, twin sons - Waswa and Kato aged 4, to go to school for the past year, and is delighted they will have a better education than he did. They absolutely love school and learning, and we heard from Elijah that one of the boys was in tears recently when he was ill and had to stay home and miss a few days of lessons!

Elijah's twin boys, aged 4  Elijah's twin boys, aged 4

If you would like to know more about the educational work we do please visit our education page or get in touch with Nina.