Thursday’s focus was the right to work and to a fair wage. We began the day with an activity that is a long-time Peacebuilders’ favorite: the Banana Game!
Campers were presented with a bunch of bananas that sold for $1.00. We considered the journey those bananas took to get to our table and the different people responsible for getting them to us: the farm workers, the farm owners, the exporters, the importers, and the supermarket manager. Campers paired up and took on the role of one of these workers. After learning more about their job, each pair decided how much of the dollar they deserved. Totaling up their pay, we discovered that it came to more than the selling price, so the groups had to negotiate their way down to $1. In the process, they talked about the risks and responsibilities of each job and how it could be fairly compensated. Our campers proved to be collaborative negotiators, and it didn’t take long before they had successfully reached a total of $1 and each group was relatively satisfied with their wages. But when we looked at how each $1 for bananas is actually divided up in the real world, they were astonished and outraged to learn how little the farm workers receive. Given this reality, they were more than ready to consider the concept of fair trade, which enables relationships directly between the people who produce a product and those that market it, and guarantees a living wage for workers at the beginning of the supply chain.
Equipped with an understanding of fair trade, we headed over to Café Campesino‘s coffee roastery. Tripp Pomeroy hosted our tour, shared his passion around fair trade, and explained how this coffee is grown by farmers who benefit from cooperative labor. We saw bags of coffee beans from all over the world, and learned about the roasting process. What a great way to understand the importance of the right to a fair wage!
After a wonderful lunch at Café Campesino’s coffee shop in downtown Americus, we headed over to T31 where owner and fashion designer Elena Carné welcomed us enthusiastically. She told us about her clothing business and how she puts her skills to use to make sure that others have what they need. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Elena’s workshop produced thousands of face masks not only for essential workers in Sumter County, but also for residents of a Navajo reservation. Today, she led the campers in a sewing project to produce bandannas which will be given to farm workers in the area.
Today was learning at its best, engaging all our senses with the sounds and smells of the roastery, the tastes of lunch at a coffee shop that supports fair labor, the feel of cloth between our fingers, and the sights of what dignified work looks like. Coupling that with service and gratitude toward others, we think it was the perfect way to spend the day!