Fairtrade Fortnight

This week’s meeting tied in with Fairtrade Fortnight, and fortunately also managed to include an activity the Guides had asked to do this term.

As the girls arrived, we got them painting a banner to celebrate a local day centre’s 60th anniversary.  Our Unit Leader is involved in the centre and the celebrations, and the Guides visit once a year or so to serve tea and do singing.

When the banner was finished and everyone was there, the patrols sat at tables.  We had asked the girls to bring a Fairtrade object and about half of them remembered – not bad considering it was half term last week.  First we discussed what Fairtrade means; then the patrols discussed their objects and chose one to pitch to the leaders, as in Dragons’ Den (which was something the girls said they’d like to do this term).  They only had 5-10 minutes as we were on a tight schedule, but there were some good pitches.  One the largest, youngest patrols was especially impressive, with everyone delivering persuasive messages in snappy soundbites, and they won a Fairtrade chocolate bar to share.  Our brand new Guide was in that patrol, so it was nice that she won something on her first night.

Next, we played a version of this orange trading game.  We started 45 minutes before the end of the meeting, which was fine although it could have gone on a bit longer if we’d had more time.  I’d prepared orange templates and counted out money for each patrol, and written price lists for the market and a tick list for the cost-of-living collector.  At the last minute, another leader pointed out that the setup wasn’t teaching anything about the benefits of Fairtrade, and being awesome, she quickly set up an alternative market, offering better prices for oranges.  We instructed half the patrols to use the original market and the other half the Fairtrade one.

For currency we used little printed trefoils, left over from our Thinking Day treasure hunt.  It worked fine with four leaders: two on one market, one on the other market, and me collecting the cost of living and offering school places.  We didn’t have a money lender.

The Guides picked the game up quickly and got really into it, though I didn’t see any of the creative/morally dubious transactions that sometimes happen in these games.  One of them said to me “we can play this again!”  I was too busy collecting money and announcing price changes, crop blights etc. to take any photos!

The game went on for 4 rounds (“weeks” or “seasons”), which took about 25 minutes.  The debrief, led by awesome co-leader, showed lots of good things.  The patrols trading at the Fairtrade market had made a profit, and had started sending their children to school, while those trading at the other market had made a loss and no one was going to school.  One patrol had switched to Fairtrade halfway through (I didn’t work out if that was their choice, or if the Fairtrade market leader had invited them).  The Guides spoke about how they had coped with the work, e.g. by making a production chain and giving everyone a role, and about concerns, like barely being able to meet the cost of living.

There was a lot of tidying up to do afterwards, what with the bits of paper and pencil shavings!  All in all it was a good fun evening, especially thanks to the adaptations to the game, and I think everyone learned something about Fairtrade.

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