In a guest blog, Karem Issa talks about his time as a Faith Act Fellow and his new film Faith and Fair Trade: Inspiration and Cooperation.
As one of the inaugural group of Faiths Act Fellows with the Tony Blair Faith Foundation my job was to encourage local multi-faith action in support of the Millennium Development Goals. It was inspiring to witness how the impact of action on global poverty was multiplied when people of different faiths stood side by side, both on the ground in Africa and in the local communities we worked with in the UK.
I believe that making trade fairer is one of the most effective ways of eradicating poverty. I've been campaigning in support of fair trade and have visited, researched and worked with producers in a number of countries. There's something special about seeing people lift themselves out of poverty through their own efforts and toil, once they've been given the chance in a fairer environment which allows them to do so.
While out in Ghana recently I decided to link these two topics of interest together - interfaith cooperation and fair trade. I produced this short film based on a trip to the village of Bayerebon Number 3 in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. Here, farmers of different faiths and denominations work together to produce cocoa for the fair trade cooperative Kuapa Kokoo, and share the benefits equally.
I'm currently using the film as part of my interfaith workshops on 'Faith and Fair Trade', and I'm hoping to develop these into a wider campaign. All of our faiths inspire us to work for justice, and fair trade stands for justice. At the same time, fair trade, whether through production or campaigning or support, can be a good common platform upon which people of different faiths can work together for a common good, and in doing so nurture good relations.
The film shows that when faced with the common needs of defeating poverty and developing their community, people can come together despite their differences. I hope this can inspire us in our own countries and communities to work together with others of diverse backgrounds and perspectives, not only on our own issues of common concern, but also to support the causes of global justice and put an end to global poverty.
(To apply for 2011/2012 Faiths Act Fellowship of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation visit www.faithsactfellows.org. Applications close December 31st).