Compassion Canada, Fighting Global Poverty During the HolidaysThis year’s holiday season brings forth a new set of challenges as everyone is forced to accommodate their usual traditions and plans. For those in extreme poverty around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified their daily struggles. The Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report estimates that the pandemic could push between 88 million to 115 million people back into extreme poverty as advancements in eradicating global poverty reverse. Among the factors contributing to this drastic shift are the travel and trade restrictions, closure of valuable institutions and rise in unemployment. The International Labor Organization reported that poverty among African workers increased by 62% within the first month of the pandemic. These workers relied on industries, such as manufacturing and tourism, that have either closed or are restricted. The World Bank approximates that by next year, 31 million children living in impoverished households will leave school because of the economic impacts of COVID-19. The holiday season should be used as a time to continue fighting global poverty, especially during these trying times when millions of people are at risk. Here is how Compassion Canada is contributing to the fight against global poverty.

What is Compassion Canada?

Compassion Canada is a religion-based organization that was established in 1963 and now works in 25 countries worldwide to fight global poverty by improving child development. Its “holistic” approach to child development includes providing basic necessities, educational opportunities and personal care and guidance to children. As a result of Compassion Canada’s work, two million children now have access to the resources necessary to develop all aspects of their lives and break the cycle of poverty.

In addition, 27% to 40 % more children completed their education and 35% are more likely to be employed in high-skilled jobs. Throughout the pandemic, Compassion Canada has continued its commitment to its mission and now to also fighting global poverty during the holidays.

Fighting Global Poverty During the Holidays

Compassion Canada offers two options for anyone wanting to spread the holiday spirit to families in need. Here is a closer look at these options.

With Gifts of Compassion, individuals can choose from a wide range of gifts, or services, that they wish to give. These gifts include COVID-19 relief, support for income generation, educational resources and clean water. Gifts alleviating the impact of the pandemic include digital medical care, rent assistance and hygiene kits. To help with income generation, donors can choose gifts to support small businesses or give livestock and produce. For those looking to make an impact during the holidays, this is a unique way to give a family around the globe a gift and service they need to continue their path out of poverty. The Christmas Gift Fund accepts monetary donations to give children tangible gifts.

Regardless of the unprecedented situation of the world, Compassion Canada wants to continue spreading the holiday joy to children and give them a reminder that there are people around the world who care for them. Make an impact this holiday season by donating to non-profits and humanitarian organizations!

Giselle Ramirez-Garcia 
Photo: Flickr

As Americans prepare for another season of holiday gift-giving, it is important to consider where and how items are produced. Questions about fair trade products, ethical sourcing and supply chains are not always on the average consumer’s mind—but they should be.

For items produced both domestically and overseas, were they produced using sustainable practices? Did the employees working at all levels of the company receive fair pay? Is the company’s supply chain transparent and ethical?

These considerations can have consequences for many working people around the world. Companies selling products on American shelves can have traces of child labor, conflict minerals, forced labor and human trafficking.

The employees at these companies might make a wage that keeps them from extreme poverty yet binds them to a working poor, in-work poverty status.

To make gift-giving easier this holiday season, here is a list of poverty-fighting gifts and ethical companies that utilize sustainable practices, are fair trade and pay workers fair wages, thus keeping them from in-work poverty.

Chocolate companies receiving cacao beans from West Africa often have supply chains tainted by child labor, forced labor and human trafficking. Organic, fair trade chocolate is ethically sourced.

According to the Slave Free Chocolate organization, chocolate produced by companies such as Taza, Green and Black’s, Newman’s Own, Honest Artisan and Aldi are produced without child labor and meet the guidelines for fair trade. The full list can be found on the Slave Free Chocolate websitepoverty-fighting_gifts

While many companies pay garment workers in Southeast Asia wages that leave them in working poverty, The Good Trade has compiled a list of companies producing clothing and jewelry that are fair trade. Some companies selling in the U.S. include prANA, Eileen Fisher, EleganTees and Patagonia.

Fair trade coffee ensures that companies pay the coffee farmers fair wages and use sustainable practices. According to Fair Trade USA, coffee farmers selling fair trade coffee earned, on average, 40 cents more per pound than farmers not selling fair trade coffee.

Some popular fair trade coffee companies include Wild Harvest, Wolfgang Puck Coffee Company and Dunkin Donuts. Coffee sold at grocery stores such as Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Wegmans, Weis Markets, The Fresh Market and Aldi are also fair trade certified.

Tea companies that pay workers a living wage include Celestial Seasonings, Honest Tea, Keurig, Numi, Stash, Traditional Medicinals and The Republic of Tea.

Sports Gear
Sports balls produced by Senda Athletics are free of child labor and provide workers with fair wages and safe working conditions, whereas many other companies produce sports balls using child labor in India. With regards to sports and outdoor apparel, companies such as L.L. Bean, Vaude and REI are considered sustainable.

Products from companies with ethical supply chains
Corporations that have transparent supply chains and engage in sustainable, ethical business practices on an international level are more worthy of one’s holiday shopping dollars than companies that don’t support their workers.

Sedex is an organization whose members meet standards for labor, health and safety, the environment and business ethics. Members include Barbour, Bacardi, Hallmark, Miller Coors, P&G, and Unilever.

Resources such as Slave Free Chocolate, The Good Trade, Fair Trade USA and Rank a Brand can be very helpful in choosing a gift that is sustainable this holiday season. To help support workers all over the world, it’s important to be just as mindful when choosing a gift based on how it is made as when we consider the gift-receiver.

Priscilla McCelvey

Sources: Fair Trade USA, The Good Trade, Oxfam, Rank a Brand, Slave Free Chocolate
Photo: Flickr1, Flickr2