Fair Trade Success Stories
Fair Trade Artisans Bring the Legend of the Good Luck Three-Legged Pig to Life
Once upon a time, a mother pig gave birth to five little piglets. One of the piglets was born with only three legs. “Put it to death,” the villagers said. “It won’t survive anyway, with only three legs.” An old woman spoke out against the crowd. “Spare the little pig!” she said. “I will take him into my home.” The villagers told her that it was just another mouth to feed and that she would never see any gratitude from a three-legged pig, but the woman was determined. And eventually, the people agreed that the pig could be hers. It wasn’t worth anything anyway.
The old woman wrapped the poor piglet in the shawl from her back and carried it in the crook of her arm, while her other arm leaned on the support of a walking cane. She hadn’t been walking well for many years, herself, and felt sorry for this piglet that would never even have memories of what it’s like to run and jump with all his brothers and sisters. “You’ll be safe with me,” she whispered gently. And the little three-legged pig smiled as it slept nestled in the warmth of her shawl.
A few days passed and the woman tended to the piglet’s needs. She fed him warm milk from a bottle, made sure that he stayed warm and clean. And as the piglet grew, the woman began to notice good fortune coming her way. At first it was simple things… small items turning up that she thought she had lost, or the ingredients in her pantry never seemed to spoil as fast as they used to. And by the time the piglet learned to stand on his three wobbly legs, the luck became undeniable. One day, her son came to visit with wonderful news that his business was finally doing well! He was making enough sales to fix his house, and was even able to hire more help. As if that wasn’t fortune enough, shortly after the repairs had been made, his wife conceived their first child—something they had been wishing for a long time. It seemed that everything was finally turning in their favor. And as her son embraced her with joy, her eyes fell on the three-legged pig, who sat quietly in the corner, smiling wide and knowingly.
Maybe the fact that this pig could stand on only three legs made it especially lucky too. Whatever the origins of the myth, these little piggies certainly are adorable and can be found all around the village of Pomaire, Chile, decorating windowsills and doorways.
Our dried fruit comes from a Fair Trade organization in Colombia called Fruandes. Fruandes purchases fresh fruit from small-scale farmers and employs women to hand cut, dry and package the fruit.
Background of Fruandes: In 2002, Level Ground sought to respond to the commodity crash that saw the market value of coffee beans reduced to nearly nothing. Their original intent was to support small-scale rural farmers. If farmers were going to survive, they needed to diversify. Fruit, a natural by-product of Colombia’s rich tropical climate, was coffee’s most practical partner. From this, Fruandes dried fruit was born!
Fruandes provides its workers with a sustainable wage, vocational training, health care and education for their children. Three of the original members of Fruandes remain with the organization and have received microcredit loans that allowed for the down payment on a home outside the refugee life of Cazuca.
The story of Luz is the story for many Colombians. She is an internal refugee who fled from her native costal town of Tumaco to the capital city of Bogotá. Luz is a single mother to six grown children, only the two youngest live with her. She must begin her day at 4 am because her commute time to Fruandes is nearly two hours! Meaningful work, however, is worth it for Luz. She is thankful to have a stable job, and to work in a place where people truly care for each other.
Jasmine was living in Japan, working as a prostitute, when her employer was arrested and she was deported back to the Philippines. Her mother urged her to find a way back to Japan. But Jasmine fell in love and found work at a local factory. When her new relationship became abusive, Jasmine was desperate for a completely new beginning to her life. Good Paper provided a jump-start.
Do you like making cards?
I have learned a lot, especially about how to get along with people who are different from me. I have learned discipline through focusing on making cards well.
What is the most important thing you have learned?
I am learning hope and transformation from the darkness of my past. I have seen the value of women and my thinking has changed about how a woman should speak, think and live.
At age 15, Loran was forced to turn to prostitution. Each night of work was painful and felt endless. She harbored much bitterness from her mother’s death. She remained in prostitution for three years, and her dream of receiving an education grew dimmer every day. Loran says she sees a gradual change in her heart and mind that began when she started making cards instead of working as a prostitute.
What do you like best about yourself?
I no longer cry when I speak of my past.
What are your dreams?
I would like my own store. I want my daughters to finish school. I encourage them to dream big.
Elaine was living on the streets with nowhere to go. With just a fourth grade level education, she resorted to desperate ways of making quick money to stay alive. She drank and took drugs to get through the days. With little education and no family, she had few options. She says she has been rescued, because she is now off the streets, has her own place, and can sustain herself.
What do you like best about yourself?
Before, when I lived on the street, I used to watch the people traveling. They walked fast and were headed somewhere. I would ask myself, Where could they be headed? There were so many of them and they were all in a rush to get somewhere. Now, I’ve become one of them.
What do you like about making cards?
Your problems seem to disappear when you are at work. When you’re making cards, you can forget about your troubles. You wish you could work every day.
What’s the most challenging thing about being a trainer?
When you try to correct the cardmaker’s work, and she responds by trying to teach you what she thinks is right!
What’s your favorite card?
“Happy Birthday Fungi,” because it’s cute.