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Buy some chocolate, build a school

By Lauren McKeon
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, January 8, 2009

If Lisa Campbell were to visit the kindergarten in Tanzania her church is helping to build she would have to take a 29-hour multi-connection flight if she's lucky.

Some flight routes would take a full three days, passing through combinations of the following cities: Calgary, Vancouver, Chicago, Los Angeles, London, Brussels, Amsterdam and Nairobi, to name a few.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Lisa Campbell shows off fair trade coffee in one hand and a fair trade chocolate bar in the other. Both are produced in a fair and ethical manner. - Lauren McKeon/NNSL photo

If it were possible to walk a straight line to the African country, Campbell would have to travel more than 13,000 km to do it.

And some people are hard-pressed to help their next-door neighbour.

Campbell, as a member of Yellowknife's Holy Family Lutheran Church, is part of its drive to sell fair trade products in the city to help fund a kindergarten in Komakundi, Tanzania.

"One hundred per cent of the money raised goes to the community," she said.

The church is selling coffee, chocolate and tea, all fair-trade.

"We feel really good about selling (fair trade)," said Campbell, who added there are benefits to both sides of the sale with fair trade products.

As part of a growing social movement, fair trade certified products guarantee farmers producing such things as cacao beans, coffee beans and tea have been paid fair prices for their goods.

In return consumers gets a quality, ethically-made product, added Campbell.

In total, the church has raised $15,000 through various initiatives and has just finished completion of the kindergarten building after several years. The church also pays the teacher's annual salary and assists with school fees.

"That's an ongoing commitment," said Campbell of the church's pledge to pay for a teacher.

The move to help communities in Tanzania came after two Lutheran Tanzanians joined the church in Yellowknife after coming to work in the North. Members in Yellowknife, in turn, visited Tanzania.

"We've really built a nice relationship between the two parishes," said Campbell.

She added before the Yellowknife church began raising funds, its members would send cards and small gifts to their fellow parish across the world.

Ramping up their Good Samaritan efforts was "just a natural progression," said Campbell.

Plus, she added, building the kindergarten generates other jobs, such as those in construction.

And as for whether she'd make the multi-day trip to Tanzania?

"I'd love to go," she said.