A project operated by the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI) using fairly traded products from the SOS Rosarno campaign which guarantees the rights of workers, migrants or otherwise, in Piana di Gioia Tauro. And German Protestant churches from Westphalia have already ordered 18 tons of oranges.
Rome (NEV), 20th November 2020 – FCEI’s Etika supply chain for ethical oranges is back. Even this year, within the ambit of FCEI’s migrant and refugee programme, Mediterranean Hope, Protestant churches are promoting the sale of “ethical citrus fruits” produced by the SOS Rosarno consortium. Part of the proceeds will be used to finance the Lights on Rosarno project to illuminate – literally – work places and living spaces of farm labourers in the Piana di Gioia Tauro region.
“We strongly support this project,” states Luca Maria Negro, president of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy,”which enables workers, migrant or otherwise, to work in decent and equitable conditions for produce which is environmentally sustainable and, at the same time, ethical. Extending rights to all is the only way to guarantee real “security”: a culture of welcome is facilitated by legality. As Protestant churches, we are trying to make a small contribution, in these particularly difficult months beginning with one of the most complex regions, as recent news items regrettably attest. In Calabria there is a need for inclusion, legality and joint “grass roots” projects which involve citizens and workers”.
SOS Rosarno is a campaign and an association, founded in 2011 and managed by the Mani e Terra cooperative. It sells 220,000 kilos of citrus fruits annually, and the board comprises seven worker-members, of which six are migrants. Fifteen people make up the association, including Italians, migrants, producers and workers. The SOS Rosarno campaign involves a further fifty to sixty people, including producers, warehousing and suppliers. Over the course of the 2019/2020 season 17,000 kilos of oranges were donated to needy families and, during the health emergency, also to Covid hospitals, particularly those in the Bergamo area, thanks to collaboration with ethical buying groups and other grass roots enterprises. Last year, thanks to the FCEI campaign, a further 1400 crates of citrus fruits were sold for a total of €21,000.
Peppe Pugliese is a member of the association and is proud of the motto: “Squeeze citrus fruits, not workers: our products are at a fair price and this is our strength”. In recent years, the project has made strides, also in terms of turnover. “We hope that sales go well this year too, adds Pugliese, “and that people do not have anxieties linked to the pandemic by choosing this method of distribution rather than purchases made through wholesalers. We believe that in Calabria, in this region which has so many problems, mutual dependency is the answer. Until such time as there is social justice, we will not be able to escape this type of situation with which, regrettably, the whole of Italy has been getting familiar in recent days”.
Meantime, good news has arrived from Germany: the Westphalian Protestant churches have decided to embrace the project and have ordered 18 tons of oranges.
“As the Evangelical Church of Westphalia (EKD),” states Ulrich Möller, a member of the EKD board and head of the Department for Ecumenical relations, Mission and Global Responsibility, “we have for decades been close partners of the Italian Waldensian Church. From the outset, we have supported Mediterranean Hope, visiting its premises on Lampedusa, in Scicli and in Rome. MH’s humanitarian corridors have inspired us not only to support this exceptional safe passage programme but also to deveop a similar programme adapted for our German context. This year we decided that we should also support MH’s activities in Rosarno and, in light of the unprecedented health emergency generated by Covid 19, the additional need for medical treatment for migrants who live in situations of extreme vulnerability.” The Institute for Mission, Ecumenism and Global Responsibility (www.moewe-westfalen.de) of the German Protestant churches is, furthermore, particularly active in ”promotion of equitable commerce and campaigns for fair and decent wages in international production chains.” This informed the decision to support this new initiative “with great enthusiasm”. German churches have consequently contacted and activated their congregations, youth groups, One World Stores, nurseries, schools, local authorities, businesses, regional integration centres, refugee support services and awareness-raising projects to promote ethical oranges.
“The response,” continues Möller, “has been overwhelming. In the end, we received orders for more than 18,000 kg of ethical oranges from SOS Rosarno. Well beyond our greatest expectations. This idea seems to speak to the hearts and minds of so many who would like to make a personal contribution and express solidariity with migrant workers. Because it isn’t just about selling oranges from Rosarno. We are working together on a number of levels, to institute new forms of international cooperation and to implement humanitarian corridors at a European level. SOS Rosarno’s ethical oranges are just one way to broaden awareness of fair trade, migrants’ rights and humanitarian corridors among the population of region of Westphalia. For this, we thank all those involved and benefiting from SOS Rosarno and Mediterranean Hope”.
Between today and tomorrow, the first order of citrus fruits will leave Calabria, this time for Rome.
For information and orders: firstname.lastname@example.org, CC a email@example.com.