Thursday, 3 April 2014

Meeting Foncho with Southend High School For Boys

SHSB Meet Foncho
SHSB and others meet Fonchco
Photo: Echo Newspapers

Tired, but enthused by the response he was getting, Foncho, a banana farmer from Cienaga Colombia, greeted a hall packed full of 11 -17 year old schoolboys with these words,
“Thank you for allowing me to be with you, to visit a school so committed to Fairtrade. It makes me very proud to be a Fairtrade Farmer. If it was not for people like you we would not have the opportunities we have in my community today.”
The school in question, Southend High School for Boys, has been a Fairtrade school for many years. The pupil’s Fairtrade committee decided it would be great to see if they could get a partner to speak at an assembly in Fairtrade Fortnight and were lucky enough to find they were part of Foncho’s speaking tour. He has already been to speak to people in the UK Parliament, Welsh Assembly and Wells Cathedral. In Southampton, he visited the dock where the banana boats berth. Scotland was beckoning following this event.

The Fairtrade committee had also arranged a Fairtrade Bake off and a chocolate sale during the week. Fairtrade is discussed and explored through Ethics and Politics lessons as well as being part of the Religious Education syllabus. During a pre assembly informal gathering, Foncho spoke to many of the boys and was very impressed with their level of understanding. He explained how he would have loved to have received the education they are getting and told them to look after their school and teachers as children in Columbia do not have these opportunities. As well as farming bananas, Foncho sits on an education committee set up by his local cooperative to work with children. Fairtrade has changed his way of thinking. He is more aware of his environmental and educational responsibilities and the needs of his community.

This is Foncho’s first visit to the United Kingdom. He said the country was beautiful but it was the people whom he has met that made it more beautiful. He is the face of this year’s Fairtrade Fortnight new campaign Make Bananas Fair. This campaign is asking the UK public to help end the supermarket price wars, including a petition asking the government to urgently step in and investigate the impact of retailer pricing practices. When asked what they could do, Foncho told the school,
“Please buy Fairtrade bananas and support the campaign by signing the petition. Ask supermarkets to do something about the prices they give the banana growers and explain why it is not fair they get so little. Fairtrade makes a big difference to the farmers and their families.”
You can learn more about Foncho in the video produced by the Fairtrade Foundation at

Article by Linda Mead

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