We have been in Woking since 1993. We live in a small terraced house close to the Basingstoke Canal and on the edge of Goldsworth Park - in its early years, the largest housing estate in Europe, though it has since been overtaken by various continental developments.
Since moving here we have been involved locally with Traidcraft - a fair trade and development organisation working with producers from developing countries. For this we are based at Christ Church, an Anglican Church in the centre of the town. Here there is the opportunity to let fair trade be seen as a practical way to put Christian convictions into daily living.
Our involvement with Traidcraft had its beginnings some years before through time that we had each spent working in developing countries: Chris in Uganda and Monica in Egypt. The extremes of poverty and need that we met during those times made a profound impression and led to a new understanding of our responsibility for each other. In praying “Our Father” we acknowledge that we are responsible for each other as brothers and sisters.
As local contacts for Traidcraft, we have been working with representatives from churches of many different denominations in the area. Ecumenically the growth of this co-operation has been enriching for us all. There are also small beginnings in building relations with the local Muslim community by taking Traidcraft to events at the mosque. As Key Contacts, we are available to give support to other Fair Traders in Surrey and part of Hampshire. We hold an annual fair trade day at Woldingham and also at Duchesne House, the home of our elderly sisters.
In 2007 we were privileged to visit Northern Thailand with a small group from Traidcraft. We visited producer groups in the North East and then travelled to the remote villages of Hill Tribes in the mountainous North. There we met several tribal groups producing crafts using remarkable traditional skills. We were welcomed into their homes,shared meals with them and had the opportunity to watch them at work.
We have made links between Woldingham School and Rukungiri Vocational Project.in a remote village in Uganda. This operates at a very practical level with Woldingham passing on second-hand school uniform to Rukungiri and also, through fund raising activities, contributing to the cost of shipping. Some items are passed on to our sisters in the Forest Gate community for a refugee project that they are involved with. Project Peru and contacts in Romania and Goa have also benefited from this partnership.
We have enjoyed sharing time and friendship with people we have met locally. Inviting them home is a relaxing way to meet and has reaffirmed our commitment to a simple lifestyle reflecting values that are important to us. We also welcome our elderly sisters from Duchesne House, ex-colleagues and old girls from Woldingham School. We have a flexible pattern of life which supports our efforts to respond to needs as they arise. The most recent is the arrival of a little lost cat whom we have called Cara. She likes to be involved in whatever is going on!