Friday, April 20, 2012

Local profile - Donna Parker

A couple of years ago I was involved with an online eco-fashion business called Green Eyed Monster - something which aligned with my personal values regarding the environment and sustainable fashion.  Along the way, one more value - that of social justice - came to the fore when I discovered more about Fair Trade.  I take my hat off to people like Donna Parker who run social enterprises like Only Just
Donna with a stunning Bolga Basket from Ghana.  The baskets are made by a widows and orphans ministry group.
The small lacquered toy is made in India.
Name:  Donna Parker
Occupation: Owner of Only Just, Fair Trade shop
Lives/works:  Eltham/Montmorency
How long have you worked here? I have worked in Montmorency since Only Just opened in November 2009.

Describe yourself/what you do:
Only Just is a not-for-profit Fair Trade shop.  All of our products come from artisans and producers in the developing world who are trying to trade out of poverty.  I buy handmade products from over 18 different Third World countries.  Of course, there are maybe 3 or 4 groups working in one country so altogether, Only Just partners with about 40 different co-operatives.
A man who works for The Nepal Leprosy Trust in Kathmandu, Nepal.
"He led me through the workshop (where they make beautiful leather bags and gorgeous felt items) with enormous pride." 
These co-operatives range from women escaping trafficking in Northern Thailand, unmarried mothers in the Philippines, Ghana and Kenya, leprosy victims in Nepal to coffee growers in Ethiopia.  Fair Trade is literally a life line to these communities.  It means that they are paid a fair wage for meaningful employment.  It means that those who are the most disenfranchised (like leprosy victims and single mothers) are treated with respect and dignity.  And it helps to break the cycle of poverty by providing education and training for the artisans themselves and, usually, their children.  Many groups also provide many, many other social programs for their artisans as well, for example, free health care, investment in schools and vital infrastructure, etc.

Best thing(s) about living/working in Melbourne's north-east:
Running Only Just is incredibly satisfying because its impact on the groups that we partner with is very tangible and because we are able to donate a significant amount of money to TEAR Australia each year.  But it wouldn't be possible without the commitment from the volunteers who staff the shop and the overwhelming support that our local community gives us.  Once people understand what Fair Trade is and, that it is not charity, we find that people want to share our vision and philosophy and support it.

Another great thing about Only Just is that we're passionate about the educative/advocacy side of what we do.  I often speak to school groups, churches and community groups about Fair Trade and the impact that it has with the groups that we partner with.

For more information: 
Our website: www.onlyjust.com.au
It will soon be updated to provide on-line shopping.
Mob:  0413 314 626
Email: donna.prkr1@gmail.com

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