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Fair Trade Photography, September 2012

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FairMail is a company producing fair trade greeting cards using photos taken by underprivileged kids in Peru and India

Fairmail


FairMail offers underprivileged teenagers in Peru, India and Morocco photography training, part-time work, medical insurance and guidance in making future plans. The teenagers get 50% of the profits from the sale of their own photos to finance their housing and education. On the back of every card is a picture of the photographer and their name and age.

A potted history


In June 2006 a young Dutch couple, Janneke Smeulders and Peter den Hond, were running a vegetarian restaurant in Peru. In their spare time they volunteered at a home for street children and a community centre next to Trujillo’s garbage dump. While there, Janneke noticed that other volunteers often took pictures of the teenagers but never let the teenagers use the camera, afraid it would get broken. So she decided to let the teenagers to take pictures themselves, using her camera, and the kids loved it - taking pictures was fun, the camera a high-tech gadget and the pictures were actually quite interesting.

But she was concerned that while she was teaching the kids a new hobby it could only lead to frustration, as they would never have the money to buy a camera themselves. And their biggest problem - getting out of poverty - was not being solved. So she decided she would try to help them earn income from the pictures, and stated printing them on postcards and selling them back in the Netherlands.

In 2007 she decided to expand the concept of FairMail to the rest of the world with the goal of having 3 different production and 6 sales countries by 2012. They now sell 90% of the products through their Dutch office to mainstream and fair trade shops in the Netherlands, the UK, Germany and Belgium, through the FairMail online shop, and to corporate clients looking for fair trade photography. The other 10% is sold in the production countries (mainly Peru so far).

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