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Germany gives a fair go to all

I am in Stuttgart, Germany, at the Annual Fair Trade Exhibition and Philippine products are gaining a high profile with growing sales. This brings jobs and prosperity with fair payment to thousands of Filipinos.

I have been invited as a guest speaker at the opening of the fair. It is holiday time in Germany and many thousands of visitors come to this massive four-day exhibition to buy and promote Fair Trade and organic products.

The products are made in Germany or imported from around the world. PREDA Fair Trade dried mangos and mango organic puree are both on display. The dedication of German people to buying Fair Trade products is a reflection of their commitment to fairness and justice, honesty and transparency.

I had the privilege of introducing the first organically certified Philippine mango puree that meets European Union (EU) standards. It was achieved in 2015 through the cooperation and hard work of the Aeta people of Zambales and Bataan, in a project named Profairtrade Development Enterprise.

Germans look for the EU-approved organic certification on the products they buy, especially on food. They prefer products from small farmers and indigenous people who are involved in both the planting and growing of the food.

Almost a thousand World Shops sell the products across Germany, Austria and other European countries. Many German municipal governments buy fair trade products to be served in their employee canteens.

This commitment to doing the right and just thing is seen in the great welcome and support most German people offer to the refugees coming into their country.

They have welcomed over a million refugees and migrants in the past 18 months while several other Eastern European countries have turned them away.

The living conditions of the people camping on the Greek border with their many traumatised children I believe is a violation of their human rights. But the latest decision of the EU will order the return of refugees who arrive by boat to Turkey.

However, Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, has said her government will accept more from the camps in Turkey.

Pope Francis said, “The Easter message of the risen Christ… invites us not to forget those men and women seeking a better future, an ever more numerous throng of migrants and refugees… fleeing from war, hunger, poverty and social injustice.

“All too often, these brothers and sisters of ours meet along the way with death or, in any event, rejection by those who could offer them welcome and assistance.”

The German people seem to have a strong awareness, sensitivity and commitment to respecting human rights and supporting the downtrodden of the world, as the past generation suffered greatly from the lack of a strong, sustained opposition to the anti-Semitism and racism of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party.

Hitler created fear and hatred of Jews and non-Germans and his genocide and violent aggression gave rise to World War II. When they lost the war, Germany became a nation of refugees and as a nation knows the value of welcome.

In defeat, the lesson that all people must stand up for their moral beliefs and principles was learned. Except for a small minority of nationalists, there is a warm welcome.

The same concern is seen it the support of the German people for the poor around the world. They send thousands of young volunteers to serve in developing countries and have reduced trade barriers to help them export to Germany and the EU.

Members of the German Parliament Committee on Economic Cooperation and Development came to The Philippines to visit projects for the poor and abused, as well as children in prison in 2013.

In the following year, they invited the president of the Philippine-based PREDA Foundation to speak before a parliamentary committee on the needs of Philippine children in prison.

The Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, Christoph Strässer, came to PREDA in September 2015 with the German ambassador Thomas Ossowski.

The ambassadors’ Cup Golf Tournament was promoted by Ossowski to help the PREDA children’s homes and drew a bigger entry roll than usual. They donated generously.

All these projects and the nation’s open door policy are a rare and valuable virtue for a nation puts its principles into practice. Fair Trade is a fair and responsible practice of business and it is growing.

Today it is worldwide billion Euro business and with it comes justice and dignity for producers, farmers and their families.



 • Father Shay Cullen