My name is Beth Hobbs, I’m 19 and I am doing a work placement with Just Trade for three months while I’m living here in London.
I grew up in Spain, with English parents making me bilingual in English and Spanish. I moved back to the UK in July to kickstart my gap year! I was in Tanzania for a month in August, working with street children and orphans. Spent a few months in Oxford working and spending time with my extended family then went back to Africa, this time to Guinea Bissau for a few weeks before moving to London in February. While I’ve been working with Just Trade I’ve had the opportunity to interview some of the incredible women they work with in Peru and Ecuador, since Spanish is my first language I have loved chatting away with them!
I also work for Refugee Education UK, an organisation that helps refugees reintegrate into the British education system. They have been working with refugees from Afghanistan, Syria and now Ukraine. Due to the current situation they are very busy helping Ukrainian young people get into school, college or university here in the UK. A few weeks ago, I went to a school who very kindly fundraised for us to tell them a little bit about what REUK do and where their funds were going. This was a great opportunity for me, not only to practice public speaking, but public speaking to children. Secondary school aged children were fairly easy to talk to, I could be open and frank with them as they are aware of the war going on. However the primary school children didn't even know what the word refugee meant. I tried to make it very interactive, showing videos and photos. I explained that we had friends from Ukraine, who needed to come and stay with us for a while and it was important to make them feel welcome. I really enjoyed the experience and I’ll be doing more presentations with REUK in the future. You can read more about the work of REUK and see a link to their fundraiser for Ukraine at the following link. https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/ukraine-refugees
In September I’ll be going to the University of East Anglia in Norwich to study International Development. While I was in Tanzania, I noticed that there were many multinational companies exploiting the natural resources there. They claimed to be helping the country prosper when in fact they were exploiting the land and the people. This made me very angry and more curious than ever as to how development can be done in a sustainable way that empowers communities and protects the environment. Everything I’ve done this year has prepared me for my university course. I've been exploring different aspects of international development and with Just Trade I’m learning how the artisan makers they work with Peru and Ecuador are benefiting from a fair trade route to market to sell their products here in the UK. During my second year at university I will have the opportunity to go abroad for 3-6 months and I'm hoping I can travel to South America and maybe meet some of the amazing people I have met virtually over the last couple of months.
The women Just Trade work with are incredible and I believe their stories should be heard. The next few weeks I’ll be uploading blogs talking about the women who made your jewellery for you to get to know them. I hope you enjoy reading these blogs as much as I enjoyed writing them. I’ve had so much fun getting to know these wonderful women and I hope these blogs give you a small glimpse into their fascinating stories.