Celebrating Volunteers

Gordon has been a volunteer with Trade Aid for 13 years

Celebrating the contribution of our volunteers

Volunteering is the lifeblood of our community and the very foundation of our organisation. In fact, back in 1972, it was the combined vision of 10 volunteers who met together to create what we now know as Trade Aid.

We think it’s important to celebrate the kiwis who have mucked in over the years and have helped keep the Trade Aid vision alive. Below are a selection of stories from some of our volunteers who have graciously shared their experience with Trade Aid and the benefit of working together to achieve fairness in trade.

There are lots of opportunities to contribute to your community through volunteering, and gain confidence, experience and community connection. Discover how you can make a difference in your local Trade Aid community.

Gordon has been a volunteer with Trade Aid for 13 years, a journey that began after the first few years of his retirement. Gordon has spent time working in the Christchurch store, as Chairman of the Christchurch Trust, and most recently has become a valuable member of the team at the national office. “For me, volunteering with Trade Aid is about being part of an organisation that is in accordance with my way of thinking in my early 20s”. Armed with a Doctorate in Philosophy, Gordon puts his skills to good use drafting and proofing communications for Trade Aid.

Zainab was motivated to volunteer with Trade Aid because of the business model, where producers are given fair pay and are given an education on developing the products they make. “I started Volunteering at Trade Aid Whangarei two years ago, right after I moved to New Zealand from the UK. Volunteering has made me more involved with my community. I love telling customers about the product they have bought, and seeing how this makes them appreciate the product even more.”

Susanna is one of the retail volunteers from the Kirikiriroa store. “At Trade Aid we try to correct the imbalance, giving these people the opportunity to work in better conditions and for better wages, just like what we have in New Zealand. Through this they can eventually achieve independence with dignity and we have the privilege of selling their beautiful crafts and yummy foods on their behalf. For me, this is what it’s all about.” Susanna has enjoyed volunteering with trade Aid for 8 years. “I love Trade Aid Coconut Milk – it’s great for cooking, especially with food allergies!”

Nami started volunteering at the trade Aid Ponsonby store only recently, after becoming very inspired by fair trade. Nami has found great joy in volunteering her time. “When I meet customers and see them looking for products while they are having fun, I feel uplifted too. Trade Aid makes me happy in my life”. Nami’s favourite Trade Aid products are the coconut shell bowl from Vietnam and face coin purse from India, both pictured here. “I just love it!”

Dale, a volunteer with the Tauranga store, has volunteered with Trade Aid for 11 years. Dale’s volunteer journey began after hearing an inspirational talk about fair trade at a community meeting. ”At Trade Aid I love working with nice people, nice products and supporting a great cause – we should all be volunteering somewhere!” Dale is pictured with her favourite trade Aid item - a beautiful, handmade leather bag.

Dorothy (Dot) has volunteered with Trade Aid Palmerston North for the past 10 years. “I enjoy interacting with customers and building up a good rapport with the regulars and new visitors alike. Observing their pleasure and admiration when choosing our products is so rewarding. Coming together for staff functions, watching presentations by those who have visited our trading partners and learning from each other all contribute to the benefits that have come into my life through volunteering. My thirst for knowledge never ceases. And the support I received from staff when my husband died during his journey with Cancer is a testament to the sincerity of such a caring organisation.”

Jeff volunteers with the Napier shop Trust. “I chose to volunteer with Trade Aid because I wanted to assist people in developing countries who are struggling to make ends meet. Skilled artisans who receive fair payment for their quality products instead of being short-ended by working for a corporation. I love meeting the wide range of customers who come into the shop. I was very fortunate to participate in the “Meet the Producers” trip last year to India and Sri Lanka. Our group met with the artisans who make the amazing products that we sell in our shop. The artisans were eager and happy to meet the people who sell their products. It was a very positive and uplifting trip.”

Rebecca’s reason for becoming a Trade Aid volunteer was to learn new things and be part of the story. “Volunteering has been one of the favourite parts of my life, and with Trade Aid I’ve had the opportunity to deliver education talks and get out into the community, sharing our vision and celebrating all the beautiful products and talented producers.” Rebecca volunteers with Trade Aid Palmerston North and her favourite Trade Aid products are the numdha rugs from Kashmir.

Teresina started her volunteer journey this year. “I chose to volunteer with Trade Aid because the Ponsonby store manager Marleni shared with me the insights of Trade Aid’s philosophy and I really liked it. We all dream of a fair-trade world and better opportunities for the artisans, it is really good to know that Trade Aid is not just dreaming of it but actually working towards making it happen! I enjoy getting to know the work of the artisans around the world. Some of the benefits of volunteering are getting to know like-minded people and investing my time in an ethical project.”

After looking around for volunteer opportunities I discovered Trade Aid. I am French, so I didn’t know the group existed but as soon as I discovered the values and actions, I got motivated to be part of that community. I enjoy seeing new stock arrivals and what customers are buying in store. The atmosphere, the music, everything is made to have the greatest experience and discover about the different partner groups, their skills, history, and craft. Volunteering gives me a purpose and motivation to seize the day. My volunteering experience has been so far more rewarding than any student job that I’ve had!”

Rosemary has volunteered her time with Trade Aid for 21 Years. Helping others and the satisfaction of knowing you’re making a difference in others’ lives is her reason for volunteering. “Having met some of our producers, I’m very aware of the great changes they can achieve through what we do. It gives me purpose and vision for what can be accomplished.” Rosemary has always loved the wooden toys made by Gospel House in Sri Lanka. “Their story is one of need, perseverance, community support and giving opportunities to youth, widows and solo Mums. They have nailed the whole concept of helping others to help themselves. It’s wonderful”.

Ann has been proudly volunteering with Trade Aid Whangārei since 1987 after the first meeting also attended by fellow long-term volunteer Majorie Edwards. “I had been to India and saw a huge need that I, as an individual, could never hope to make a difference, but through Trade Aid, I can”. Volunteering has taught Ann that knowing the small things make a huge difference. “I enjoy spending time with people sharing similar values, and I love telling positive stories of how fair trade changes producers lives while also empowering, especially women. And I really love all the hand crafted fabrics.”

Maria Rivera has been a volunteer at the Trade Aid shop in Palmerston North for the last 8 year as a shop assistant as well as a member of the Trade Aid Education Committee. Maria also volunteered for Trade Aid a few years back in the ‘80s! “Volunteering has been very rewarding and exciting experience for me. The opportunity to travel to Bangladesh with a Trade Aid group to visit some of Trade Aid producers was definitely a highlight. I was able to see first-hand how Trade Aid makes a real difference in people’s lives by providing empowering opportunities. Chocolate (70 % Dark) is my very favourite product. It ticks all the boxes! It’s delicious, fair-trade and organic plus comes in a home compostable wrapping!”

Hazel Braga and Grace Defensor are both new to the Trade Aid Rotorua Trust. They are both excited about starting a new volunteer project, pictured here working through the trustee manual (Grace wears the beanie). Grace has been volunteering with Trade Aid for a couple of years, and between them have extensive experience volunteering with other organizations. “It is an honor to be part of an organization that shares the same beliefs and values as we do”. They will both enter the trust as general members attending meetings, and supporting local events.