As in many developing nations, the governing systems in place are a struggle to say the least. Today, we experienced that struggle, I can even say it was a battle; a battle we lost.

Our shipment arrived at the port and with our documentation ready; we embarked upon the Custom Department with a sense of excitement. After hours of pleading, arguing and disappointments; we left with a sense of utter frustration. Our shipment it seems is not considered charitable, our product is not considered needed and our program is not considered valuable; not to them.

What was valuable to them was what they would charge us in taxes, import fees and tariffs. When we added it all up, our shipment will cost us 100% of the value to import. Kofi Annan once stated, “Open fair trade markets offer the only realistic hope of pulling billions of people in developing countries out of abject poverty, while sustaining prosperity in the industrialized world.”

I guess he forgot to inform the Sri Lankan customs of this profound idea. We have spent the past three days organizing our now expensive beads and preparing the deliveries for the ladies in our group.

So, when you do purchase a necklace from us, understand, fair is not always a word that can relate to an individual product purchase. Fair can only relate to the person being paid the fair amount for the work they did to create it.

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