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MAGGIE JO'S FAIR TRADE BLOG

10-11-2006

Birmingham fair trade campaigner Maggie Jo St John is in Nicaragua teaching English to remote coffee growing communities and finding out whatlife's really like for those who cultivate our morning brew.

Wow. A couple of days of highs and lows.

The high was discovering the Stirrer message board which containeda wonderful offer - thank you, thank you - from Rita and Duncan Baker to provide a place at their language school (which I rate very highly) for a student from here.

Along with that I've just had a visit from one of the other good students, Deylin,who came to say that she is very willing to teach local youngsters "as a way of giving back to her community and also of saying thank you to me" Howlovely. And two of the other young women, Marbely and Veronica in her community have said they'll support her.

They are going to get themselves together to organise an intensive residential course for the first week of December for all the best students so that they can get more practice in English and swap ideas for teaching. I've said I'll be delighted to arrange the professional side if they make all the arrangements. (In previous visits I've done all the arranging,but now they can initiate.)

I can count on at least six native speakers to take part, so with a group of say 12 students we'd have a really good ratio.

So now I'm thinking I need to take a visit to the third community where we have volunteers. I gather there are three good young women there. Wouldn't it be fantastic if one or more of them would also be interested in teaching. It'd be amazing if there was someone in each of the communities.

A crucial part of this will be the communities themselves: will they want their youngsters to learn / carry on learning enough to give some financial input? The project's ethos has been that students should help with a community activity (collecting rubbish, clearing footpaths) in return for the classes. But local teachers would need some financial income from their work.

So my thinking is getting more grandiose - perhaps we could manage to bring one student from each of the three communities over to England. Three airfares, two more language places: if it's meant to happen, the means will appear. Lots to think about and work on.

The low has been at the national level. The government has just revoked the law allowing for therapeutic abortions. Once the new law comes into being all abortions will be illegal. It appals me to think that in the 21st century men can condemn women to death in this way and that the Church should be an instigator of this.

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