The reason I didn't write about my trip to India and Nepal beforehand is that there is a certain amount of disbelief that comes with leaving the country. There are a lot of variables from visas to cancelled flights that can make a trip disappear or delay. Even buying my tickets was a two week adventure. I didn't believe I was going until I had made it through Indian customs.
If I had written about the trip before I left, I would have told you all that I was very excited to be included in Chapel Hill's Fair Trade Vision Trip to India and Nepal. On the trip we planned to visit several fair trade initiatives in both countries and get some ideas on how Chapel Hill can be involved in fair trade.
For those of you wondering what fair trade is, here's the definition accepted by the four major fair trade associations:
Fair trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers. Fair Trade Organizations, backed by consumers, are engaged actively in supporting producers, awareness raising and in campaigning for changes in the rules and practice of conventional trade. Fair trade products are produced and traded in accordance with these principles - wherever possible verified by credible, independent assurance systems.
One of my dreams and goals in Afghanistan is to get involved with a fair trade initiative for women who often have little means of income generation. This trip was the first step towards that goal.
That's the basic background. The trip was filled with many adventures including a Nepali dance party, the longest bicycle rickshaw ride ever, tons and tons of chai and momos, and some of the craziest driving I've ever experienced (and that's saying a lot!). These stories and many pictures to follow.