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Planning for a Special Holy Day: Act Now

vicky-with-palm-lwr(Photo credit: LWR)

For the Christian tradition it is time to start planning for an important holiday….no, not Christmas, but Palm Sunday!  Guest blogger Kattie Somerfeld, of Lutheran World Relief, explains why fair and sustainable trade are important to her religion’s practice.  She also gives readers an opportunity to bring eco-palms to their congregations by planning for purchases now. ~ Jackie DeCarlo

by Kattie Somerfeld

For Lutherans and other people of faith, Fair Trade is about more than fair income, sustainable development, and protection of the environment. It’s about seeing God in the faces of our sisters and brothers in the products we buy. For us, it’s about affirming their dignity with our consumer dollar.

On Palm Sunday, Christians remember Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem on a donkey, where people threw palms on his path and shouted “Hosanna in the highest!”

We wave palms fervently as the procession comes down the aisle, shouting “Hosanna in the highest!” anticipating the pivotal moment that defines the Christian faith – Christ died, Christ rose from the dead.

To us, those green palm fronds represent a new hope for an ailing world. To most producers of palm, however, they represent something an unjust system of trade that keeps them trapped in a cycle of poverty.

That’s because palm cutters (called xaterros (sha-TARE-rows)) typically trek deep into the forest to extract palm that they bring back to sell to middlemen, who go on to sell it all over the world. Although palm purchases total about $4.5 million a year, the xaterros see very little of this money.

Middlemen pay for palm by volume, prompting xaterros to extract as much palm as possible from the forests, often to the detriment of the palm trees. In trying to earn a living for themselves, they are forced to systematically destroy their main source of income.

Lutheran World Relief and other faith groups support the sale of Eco-Palms, a more just and environmentally friendly palm product. Eco-Palms encourage a better system by paying xaterros by the quality, not the quantity, of their fronds. Instead of selling their palms to middlemen, groups of palm harvesters process, package, store and ship their own palm, creating jobs and keeping more of the money made from sales in their own communities.

Purchasing Eco-Palms directly helps these communities, who benefit both from the higher price of their palms as well as the extra five cents per palm that is invested back into the communities. This social premium builds schools, provides health insurance to xaterros and their families, and improves palm storage facilities.

As we prepare for Palm Sunday, we reflect on the wonder of Jesus’s death and resurrection as well as the life he lived on earth. He walked with the poor, the ostracized, and the disadvantaged. In his teachings he emphasized again and again our mandate to love one another as God loves us. Including Eco-Palms as a part of your congregation’s Palm Sunday activities honors this mandate by ensuring that everyone can share in the sense of joy, celebration and hope that the coming of Christ brings for all of God’s people.

For more information visit lwr.org/palms. If you are interested in purchasing Eco-Palms for Palm Sunday 2010, send your name, congregation, email, and phone number to ecopalms@umn.edu – we will contact you by January 6, 2010 with final prices to confirm your order.

Kattie Somerfeld is the Fair Trade Projects Coordinator at Lutheran World Relief. lwr.org/fairtrade or fairtrade@lwr.org

1 Comments

  1. wow this sounds really interesting i never knew about all these thanks for sharing

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