Our lives are also growing – Siripala’s story
The future is bright for Sri Lankan rubber farmer Siripala and his family. Thanks to Dipped Product plc’s Firstlight programme, which provides the latex for Traidcraft rubber gloves, he has been able to save up enough money to bring electricity into his home.
When Traidcraft visited in February (2010), the family of four had been enjoying electricity for 20 days. A new fan was in the corner of the living room, but it was the light bulbs which Siripala pointed to first.
“Now my children can read,” he said proudly.
He is also proud of the home which he has built for his wife, Swarnalatha, 12-year-old son, Supan, and daughter, Malki (6) and wants to make more improvements, such as installing ceilings and improving the floors.
Before Siripala began working with Firstlight four years ago, he used to make and sell rubber sheets – a common way of selling the latex – but finding a buyer or a good price was unreliable.
“We had difficulties selling the sheets,” he said. “Companies were coming to collect the sheets but we did not get the money on proper time. With Firstlight every 15 days we know we are getting money so there is no doubt about that.”
Asked about the other benefits of working with Firstlight, Siripala said: “It is all round. In education, health and technology, beginning with the kids’ books and pencils and ending with my family health. It is a wide range.”
Dipped Products plc Background
Dipped Products plc’s Firstlight programme aims to improve the quality of life for disadvantaged rubber farmers in remote communities in Uva province, Sri Lanka. By selling through Firstlight, the farmers know they will receive regular and fair payments, as well as technical support and help with equipment.
In early 2009, Traidcraft launched the world’s first fair trade rubber gloves, manufactured in Sri Lanka with rubber latex sourced from these small-scale farmers. The price paid includes a development premium, which means that the benefit of fair trade can be felt by farmers and their communities.