Stuttgart, Germany: Here in Stuttgart, the Annual Fair Trade Exhibition is under way and Philippine products are gaining a high profile with growing sales. This brings jobs and prosperity with fair payment to thousands of Filipinos. I have been invited as a guest speaker to the opening of the fair. It is holiday time in Germany and many thousands of visitors will come to this massive four-day exhibition to buy and promote Fair Trade and organic products.
These fairly traded products are made in Germany and products imported from around the world like the Preda Fair Trade dried mangoes and mango organic puree. The dedication of the Germans to buying Fair Trade products is a reflection of the German people’s devotion and commitment to fairness and justice, honesty and transparency. Their equal insistence on buying organic food is legendary.
I have the privilege of introducing to the Fair Trade world market the first organically certified Philippine mango puree to meet European Union standards. This was achieved in 2015 by the cooperation and work of the Aeta indigenous people of Zambales and Bataan with the agriculturists of Preda Fair Trade. The project is officially named Profairtrade Development Enterprise.
Fair Trade and bio practice on the local and national level is a high value for the German people. They look for the EU-approved organic certification on the products they buy especially on foods that are also fair trade. They prefer to buy products from small farmers and indigenous people, who are involved in the planting and growing of the food.
Almost a thousand World Shops sell the products across Germany, Austria and other European countries. Many German municipal governments buy fairly traded products to be served in their employee canteens.
This commitment to fairness and doing the right and just thing is seen in the great welcome and support of most German people for refugees and in the generous humanitarian shelter and aid given to them.
Germany welcomed over a million refugees and migrants in the past 18 months. Several other Eastern European countries have turned away the refugees fleeing persecution and torture and have closed their borders and their hearts and sewed up their pockets.
The living conditions of the people camping on the Greek border with many traumatized children and are unable to travel north is a violation of their human rights. The latest agreement in the EU will order the return of refugees who arrive by boat to Turkey. Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, has said her government will accept more from the camps in Turkey.
Pope Francis referred to this: “The Easter message of the risen Christ . . . invites us not to forget those men and women seeking a better future, an ever more numerous throng of migrants and refugees . . . fleeing from war, hunger, poverty and social injustice.”
“All too often, these brothers and sisters of ours meet along the way with death or, in any event, rejection by those who could offer them welcome and assistance,” Pope Francis said.
The German people, including the youth of this generation post-World War II, have a strong awareness, sensitivity and commitment to respecting human rights and supporting the downtrodden of the world. The past generation suffered greatly from the lack of strong sustained opposition to the vile anti-Semitism and racism of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party.
They created fear and hatred among the German people of Jews and non-Germans and anyone they deemed inferior. The genocide and violent aggression of Hitler gave rise to World War II.
In defeat the lesson was learned that all people must stand up for moral beliefs and principles and never allow a dictator or gangster politician to take them away.
It happened in the Philippines when President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in 1972. When the Nazis lost the war, Germany became a nation of refugees and today cannot close its doors to the suffering Syrian refugees for the nation knows the value of a welcome.
Except for a small minority of racist nationalists, there is a warm welcome. Germany has become the shining light in the world for acting on its commitment to moral values and defending human dignity. This concern and sensitivity is seen it the support of the German people for the poor around the world. They send thousands of youth volunteers to help and serve in developing countries and have reduced trade barriers to help them export to Germany and the EU.
Members of the German Parliament Committee on Economic Cooperation and Development have come to the Philippines to visit projects for the poor and abused and jailed children in 2013.
In the following year, they invited the president of the Philippine-based Preda Foundation to speak before the committee in the Parliament on the needs of Philippine children unlawfully imprisoned in Metro Manila.
The Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, Mr. Christoph Strässer, came in September 2015 with the German Ambassador to the Philippines Mr. Thomas Ossowski to visit the Preda Foundation’s children’s homes helping victims of human trafficking and abuse. The support for human rights and children has been a priority of the German Government and the Embassy’s commitment to help the Filipino people.
The German Ambassador’s Cup Golf Tournament was promoted by Ambassador Ossowski to help the Preda children’s homes and many more players joined than previously. They donated generously. The Embassy also funded a section of the new Preda’s children’s activity center and, last week, the Ambassador came to Olongapo and Subic personally to meet the children and view the project.
All these projects and the open door policy for suffering refugees is that rare and valuable virtue of a nation putting into action the proclaimed principles it stands for. Fair Trade is a fair and responsible practice of business and it is growing. Today it is a world-wide billion euro business and still growing and with it justice and dignity for producers, farmers and their families.