Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Life is not fair

Gosh, I don't know how many times I have started writing this posting and then erased everything. Can't tell you the details but once again, it's been a time to reflect upon life...but before you might get worried, let's move swiftly on and have a look at this wonderful parcel which my Secret Pal sent to me. Once again, I'm sorry for this delay in showing it.

Look! There was a October card, a magazine with a wide selection of knitted accessories, a natural soap and a soap dish both in leaf form (hihi, I really start to think you know me or have some insider information - have you seen my curtains? Or my favourite Villeroy & Boch series?), some chocolate and coffee to enjoy, and last but definitely not least, two hanks of superb lace yarn by Malabrigo. I could have eaten it, too, it's just so lovely to touch. Now, the only problem is where to find a good enough pattern for this yarn - I may spend some more months just playing with this yarn. Thank you, I loved everything in here!

This might be my next bag project:

and here's a closer look at the handpainted yarn and its wonderful changing tones:

Other readers, did you have a closer look at the coffee pouch? It's of Max Havelaar fair trade brand, a gesture which I truly appreciate. How many of us knitters refuse to sell our products for too low a price - how does it feel when you don't get compensated for the work you do? Wouldn't it be fair to follow the same principle when buying food? The people who do the hard work deserve their pay and shouldn't be exploited.

About two weeks ago, it was also the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty and to coincide with that occasion, one of the biggest local supermarket chains, Delhaize, organises a campaign to collect groceries for the less well-to-do in Belgium. According to statistics, 15 % of the population can be considered poor, which means an monthly income of 882 euros for single persons or 1726 euros for a household of four. During this special action week, when entering a Delhaize shop, the customers were given a plastic bag and basic instructions on what to buy (non-perishable food like tinned cans, rice, pasta, cooking oil, sugar, coffee etc. You'd paid for the stuff you bought and leave it at a collection point where it would be transported further and sorted before final distribution.

Now, although I don't find that too efficient a way to help, I still do it every year. But just for the sake of the argument, what do you think of it? For me, it's a bit strange that the shop obviously benefits too: the sales increase, and even though they say that they provide the logistics for free, is that really enough? If (and when) people are willing to help, is it fair to buy the food for full retail price when they could just collect the money and buy the products in bulk? Yeah, like my friends have pointed out, this is a very concrete and an easy way to help, but is it effective? Then there are the details: if you're doing your own shopping at the same time, is it fair if you buy yourself a high-end product but put the cheapest alternative to the help bag? And how much ahead should you think: should you buy a can of meatballs, for instance, if the package is going to a Muslim family? (Sigh. Do I have a tendency to make my life more complicated than it really should be?)

If you want to read more on the subject, here are a couple of links: food banks in Belgium
Poverty in Belgium (FR)
and a couple of Finnish knitting bloggers have also pondered on this "save the world" theme lately, Ziina (in Finnish) and Heidi (in Finnish and in English)

Oh, and one more thing under this title of fairness. Last weekend's big surprise was when one of the favourite couples of Strictly come Dancing were sent packing. It was only week four of the competition and the level of dancing was uneven, to say the least, but one thing is certain: it wasn't fair to drop
these two

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