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Fair Trade during the Pandemic

A Letter from Farsijana Adeney-Risakotta, serving in Indonesia

October 2020

Write to Farsijana Adeney-Risakotta 

Individuals: Give to E200303 for Farsijana Adeney-Risakotta’s sending and support 

Congregations: Give to D506007 for Farsijana Adeney-Risakotta’s sending and support 

Churches are asked to send donations through your congregation’s normal receiving site (this is usually your presbytery)

 


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Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

The worldwide pandemic has disrupted many of our patterns of life and ministry. My ministry in Indonesia as a Presbyterian mission co-worker, is based on the premise that we are all connected. I am not a missionary from a Christian country to a non-Christian one, but rather a co-worker in mission who helps bring the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to work together with the church and society of Indonesia to promote the kingdom of God in both of our countries. The COVID-19 pandemic has erected many new barriers through travel bans. Many countries have closed their borders. But God’s reign on earth cannot be blocked by travel bans or border walls. Recently I taught at webinar for the Overseas Ministries Study Center (OMSC), Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, NJ on “A Common Word: Christians and Muslims Struggling Together for a Just Society in Indonesia during a Pandemic.”

The barriers that keep us apart are not all erected by the pandemic. International structures of trade are skewered to benefit big corporations and rich consumers while keeping millions of creative, hard workers in poverty. In order to combat these unjust structures, the Fair Trade movement promotes direct trade between producers and consumers, bypassing large corporations and retail chains.

When Hery Ramambasoa, PC(USA) regional liaison for Southeast Asia, visited us last year he was impressed with the work of our House of Authentic Sense (HAS) Co-op that empowers villagers to escape poverty. He traveled out to the villages with which we work and directly observed their production process. He asked us, “Why don’t you export the villagers’ products as Fair Trade goods?” His question started us on a path to learn more about Fair Trade and how we can be certified as a Fair Trade co-op. HAS Co-op applied for an Indonesian Fair Trade certification and a license to be listed as a Fair Trade organization. The auditor was delayed, due to the pandemic. On August 13-14, 2020 an independent auditor representing Fair Trade Indonesia Forum audited HAS Co-op’s management, human resource development, policies, practices, worker welfare, worker safety, disaster prevention, gender balance, non-discrimination, non-employment of children, and environmental preservation. The audit flagged 19 issues that we needed to address. Within a month of the audit, HAS Co-op responded well to the auditors’ 19 findings and on September 15, 2020, HAS Co-op was certified to become a member of the Fair Trade in Indonesia Forum (FTIF). HAS is the only co-op in Indonesia to be certified as a Fair Trade organization. If you are interested in selling HAS Co-op Fair Trade products through your church, please let me know by contacting me at pondokjatirasa@yahoo.com.

An Indonesian student from West Timor asked me, “Could House of Authentic Sense Co-op develop its network in West Timor? There are many women who hand-weave ikat fabrics in West Timor who need to become members of a co-op like HAS.” Ipi is currently completing his master’s thesis in business management at Duta Wacana Christian University (DWCU), with a focus on social entrepreneurship and the work of HAS Co-op during the pandemic. Ipi chose research on HAS Co-op because of its unique business practices as a Fair Trade Co-op. HAS Co-op received a significant grant from Presbyterian Women, which empowered HAS to accompany villagers in Java as they face rapid economic change brought by globalization. Churches, such as First Presbyterian Church of Champaign, IL also strengthened HAS through raising money for micro-finance loans. HAS Co-op would love to expand to serve villagers in West Timor, Papua, Aceh and elsewhere in Indonesia. But financial limitations make this difficult. We appreciate your prayers as we look for ways to strengthen the financial viability of HAS so that we can continue to pay our staff. Please contact me by email (above) if you think you could help us in any way.

In Jeremiah, God addresses the corruption that has become a way of life for many of God’s people, even including their religious leaders. “…from the least to the greatest everyone is greedy for unjust gain; from prophet to priest everyone deals falsely. They have treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace…Thus says the Lord: Do not let the wise boast in their wisdom, do not let the mighty boast in their might, do not let the wealthy boast in their wealth; but let those who boast boast in this, that they understand and know me, that I am the Lord; I act with steadfast love, justice and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight, says the Lord” (Jer. 8:10-11, 20, 22; 9:23-24).

We are thankful for the many people in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) who know the God who delights in steadfast love, justice and righteousness in the earth. We are humbled by your love, prayers and financial support for us. We are grateful that many of our Christian and Muslim brothers and sisters in Indonesia also delight in steadfast love, justice and righteousness in the earth. Even though we are separated by the pandemic, we know that we are all connected. Our future, the future of our grandchildren and of the earth itself are all bound together.

God willing, I will be in the USA during the months of December, January and February. PC(USA) has issued a travel ban, so I will not be able to visit any of you. But I hope to arrange as many “virtual visits” as possible with you, while I am in a similar time zone. I would be happy to participate in on-line worship, virtual mission committee meetings, zoom seminars, face time happy hours or just one on one chatting. I look forward to sharing with you in hope for the coming of the one who says, “To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life” (Rev. 21:6).

Salam hangat (warm peace) from Yogyakarta,

Farsijana (and Bernie)


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