Every Sunday morning we opened up a pack of fresh croissants and gently baked them golden-brown. There were six croissants and only the five of us. We all loved the croissants and all three children were eager to split it fair and square. Only, that wasn’t as simple as you'd think it would be. Since every crumb of this delicious croissant mattered to us. We used rulers but we decided that was not precise enough. Since a croissant was not a rectangle it still wouldn’t be fair. We even used a scale to make sure everybody got the same amount. But then the next problem appeared, the part in the middle was less tasty, because it had less crust on the side. In the meanwhile our parents were getting more and more annoyed with us. So my mum made up this one rule we all agreed upon, since it only seemed fair: Whoever splits, gets to pick last.
I probably don’t have to explain that this is not how it works in the world nowadays. Fair sharing? Everybody the same amount? Everybody is equal in what they get? I live in the Netherlands and we are famous for liking free and cheap stuff. Free and cheap, right? Can’t we all relate with that a little? Don’t we just love that store where you can get cheap clothes? Or that store where you can get your favourite comfort food for a penny instead of a pound? I have participated in these kind of purchases a long time, and honestly sometimes I still do. The only sad part about it is that cheap doesn’t really exist, there is always someone paying the price. Or rather, not getting a fair price for the job or product they deliver.
Let’s use cacao farmers as an example for many others. A lot of cacao farmers sell their cacao for just a small amount to large international companies. They kind of have to, because most companies won’t hesitate to run to the next cacao farmer where they can get the same cacao for even less money. But as you may expect, the amount of money they are paying is not the fair share of the croissant, the farmers only get a few crumbs. When we buy a chocolate bar of €2,50, the farmers only gets €0,12. In concrete terms this means that the farmers end up with less than €6,- a day for a family of six persons. That is less than €1,- per person a day! That is way below the poverty line. That’s not enough to maintain their lands with the right equipment. It is actually not even enough to improve their life in any way. Luckily there are companies who won’t run to neighbour farmers to pay less and less money. They agree with the farmer on a fair price. They offer them a fair share of the croissant.
I had to share my croissant with two brothers, whom I love. We choose for a fair share because we know how much the other also enjoyed that croissant. Now imagine that you live next to this cacao farmer, Dembe. You would probably get to know him, his wife Asis and their three beautiful children. You may know the dream of Asis that one day she would be able to send her children to school instead of having them work on the fields. You may even know the ambition of their eldest daughter to become a doctor. We can actually choose to improve their quality of live, give them a fair share of the croissant. Not just for your sibling that you live with and love, but also for the stranger that you would know and love if you would live right next to them.
If we all take small steps by e.g. purchasing fairtrade products, together we can run around the world and make a difference that matters.