I'm a freelance writer based in Perth, Western Australia, who enjoys writing about the things I love: travel, nature-based activities, the arts, spirituality and creative, fun activities for children.
Published February 1st 2013
Find room in your heart for Fair Trade
Do you love travelling to far-flung exotic places and admiring the exquisite handicrafts of the skilled artisans who live there? I definitely do, and therefore I was over the moon when I discovered Oxfam and their amazing gift shops, which can be found in most of Australia's capital cities. However, Oxfam's vibrant and sumptuous stores are so much more than simply a shopaholic's paradise.
A developmental organisation which is dedicated to fighting poverty and promoting social justice in under-privileged communities around the world, Oxfam is one of the pioneers of Fair Trade in Australia. Unlike most conventional import-export businesses which pay village-based producers a pittance while raking in huge profits themselves, Oxfam shops are not money-making ventures but are staffed by volunteers, and the artisans who create the beautiful products which they sell are provided with fair payment for their labours, thus freeing them from the cycle of poverty.
Oxfam purchases from producers and cooperatives throughout the world which share its ethos of Fair Trade, and the unique products which can be found in its stores have been sourced in India, Bangladesh, Laos, Peru, Africa, Indigenous Australian communities and many other places. Have a look at the Oxfam website to find out more about some of these organisations. Selling their products through Oxfam has transformed the lives of so many people by providing the financial means to access health services, education for their children and fresh running water. In this way, formerly marginalised communities are empowered to support themselves and their families in a dignified and sustainable way.
Whether you're looking for a beautiful and unique present for a friend or simply want to spoil yourself, there are all sorts of gorgeous and practical items for sale at Oxfam shops including home-wares, stationary, food items, fashion accessories, children's toys, and so much more. Since many of the products which can be found at Oxfam are art forms that have been practiced for hundreds of years, by purchasing these items for a fair price, customers are also helping to keep alive traditional cultural practices. If you don't live close to a store, it's also possible to buy online.
Volunteering at Oxfam The support of volunteers is essential for Oxfam to continue its many projects around the world. Therefore, if you're poor in money but have some free time, why not consider helping out at one of Perth's three Oxfam shops or in some other capacity?
Volunteers at an Oxfam event. Image is from the Oxfam website.
A few years ago, when my daughter was fourteen I wanted to encourage her to develop a social conscience, so I asked Oxfam in Perth City if they'd allow her to do some work experience there. They were very encouraging, and she volunteered there for several months. I'd strongly recommend this to any other parents with teenagers, as it's a great way for kids to not only gain some practical retail experience, but also to develop an understanding of human rights, fair trade and some of the social issues which are facing the world today.
The Oxfam shop on Hay Street, Perth.
Other ways to volunteer include helping out at the Oxfam offices or at major events. Find out more at the Oxfam website.
Here in Perth we are fortunate to have three Oxfam stores: at 872 Hay Street in Perth City, 22 Queen Street in Fremantle (corner of Adelaide Street), and 5 King William Street in Bayswater. By purchasing a gift from Oxfam, you'll be sharing a gift that keeps on giving, so pop into a store near you today and find out more.