We announced recently that we’re the only retailer to make all our African roses Fairtrade. It doesn’t stop there though – we’re also giving an extra £30,000 from sales of African roses bought in Feb and March to help fund a graduate nursing programme in a community hospital in Kenya, where our roses are grown.
The hospital in Naivasha is a much needed resource for the whole community, including the farmers that grow our roses, but it’s badly in need of funding, with a nurse to patient ratio of 60:1. This money will make a huge difference to the number of nurses and the care that patients will get.
Fairtrade’s already changing lives in Naivasha
I visited Naivasha about a year ago, on a buying visit looking at African flowers, mangetout and baby sweetcorn. It was one of my first visits overseas with the team, and it was really intense. On the journey you got to see the reality of what it’s like to live in a rural community in Kenya.
One thing that struck me though as the difference Fairtrade had already made. The farms were clean, with bright and comfortable accommodation, and the farmers got meals and medical care provided. There was a real community vibe and the farmers socialised together in the evenings. It’s not what you might imagine when you think of a rural production facility in Kenya.
I also visited the community hospital, and it was quite upsetting. The hospital didn’t have enough nurses and it was full of mosquitoes. There were tiny babies there and the children’s ward had some very ill children on it. While they had some modern kit they’d been gifted, they couldn’t afford replacement parts when things broke.
Finding a way to help
We were always planning to source a Mother’s Day range of flowers from Naivasha, but seeing the maternity unit in such a state got us thinking of ways we could help – how we could support mums and babies in the hospital through sales of flowers bought in our stores.
When we got back home there was a lot of work to do. We had to create a product range, price it, get it into stores, market it – and work with the hospital in Naivasha to make sure that the money would get to the right place. It took almost a year, and it was a whole team effort. I’m so proud of the team that worked on this – it makes you realise what amazing things can be achieved when everyone cares about a cause.
It’s International Women’s Day today, and Mother’s Day this Sunday. So whether you’re buying flowers as a treat for someone else or yourself, why not take a look at the Kenyan roses, as your gift will help women in one of the poorest communities in the world.
Head of Category – Fresh