Residents Fight for Fair Compensation

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It may be an alternative to your holiday shopping this year. Buying gifts that may help bring thousands out of poverty overseas. Many visited the fair at the Okemos Community Church Saturday, helping to fairly compensate artists struggling to survive.

"They are just trying to eek out a living, even just to eat," said vendor Carol Richardson. "It really helps them just eat and survive day to day."

In some countries the poverty level has risen drastically due to a 70 percent unemployment rate. For example, coffee producers earn just 9 cents per pound while Americans often pay more than 6 dollars per pound.

Those discrepancies force children to work just to pay for their education. Those children created many of the crafts available for sale. They do it because their parents don't make enough money.

"Two thirds of the world lives like the people of Nicaragua, who make less than one dollar a day," said co-organizer Jane Barclay.

The fair offered products from across Africa, including South African hand baskets, artwork, and musical instruments.

"All of these vendors that have come here today have something that they are selling that benefits someone else," said co-organizer Jan Easley. "All of these items are fair trade which means the people who created them received a fair wage for what they made."

And that's a goal Carol Richardson has been attaining for more than a year. Richardson owns the Congo Art and Jewelry store and has sent more than 11 thousand dollars to the Congo in the past 15 months.

"I know people are eating, i know children are going to school, widows are cared for, people are making a living because we sell these things."