This global pandemic is just that, global-- not only affecting our communities in the United States, but our communities of artisan partners across the world. We're in regular communication with the artisans to understand their circumstances, and these are the most current updates:
Our partners in Cambodia are happy to report that so far, none of their artisans or staff members have contracted the virus, but they're working hard to adapt the situation in their workshops. In the main workshop in Phnom Penh, they've split their working teams into small groups, working from home where possible. In their workshop in rural Cambodia, all artisans have been mandated to stay home, and they have delivered sewing machines so artisans can continue to work from home. With orders down from their other wholesale partners, they're struggling to manage cash-flow, ensuring they're still able to pay all artisans during the quarantine. They have far more costs right now, but dramatically less production and income. Fair Anita is paying 100% upfront (as per usual) to assist with this cash flow issue, and our orders with this partner continue to grow, as they produce our best-selling Wayfarer Jewelry Roll (and lots of fun new products to be released later this year!).
In India, Delhi and most of the other states in India are on lock down, mandated by the government. The spread of the disease is still low, but, as we know, symptoms don't show for a couple weeks, so everyone is panicked. India is an extremely densely populated country, so containing the virus is of the utmost importance. Many communities in India also lack access to healthcare or capacity of healthcare, so they're preparing for a situation that is worse than Italy's. All artisan work has stopped for the next two weeks. All workshops, markets, and facilities are closed, so no production is happening, apart from a small amount that's able to happen at home. Some artisans have transitioned to making masks. We are grateful for these extreme measures of quarantine to protect our beloved artisan partners, and certainly understand delays on product development given this global pandemic.
On March 16th, the President of Peru enacted a mandatory 15-day quarantine, with no flights in or out of the country, and no local transportation allowed, either. People are allowed to walk to the pharmacy, food market, or bank when using a mask and carrying the proper ID. If you're caught disobeying, you will be jailed or killed, especially if caught outside after curfew (8pm-5am). I was, unfortunately, caught in this quarantine, so I'm experiencing the effects of COVID-19 from Chimbote, Peru. Early on, the government promised about $100 to each family considered "vulnerable," but after a full week of this quarantine, families have yet to receive this money. Most people in this community barely have enough money to sustain their expenses for 3 days, let alone 15, so people are really suffering without access to food, many having no option but to steal to feed their families. As our artisan partners here are the most recent to have fully-sustainable income with Fair Anita (and therefore don't have savings as other artisan partners are taught to do), we have stepped in to provide additional income to our partners in Chimbote. Our artisan partners are also working on new samples for our next big order from home, so hopefully by the time this quarantine lifts, they will have perfected new techniques and be ready to get to work on the next order (it's a big one!). We're providing advances to artisan payments to support the women and their children (with disabilities, who need their life-saving medication) during this difficult time.
The coronavirus is advancing quite rapidly in Chile, and the government has put a mandatory curfew and quarantine in place. The artisan partners we work with in Chile already work from home, so they're glad to be able to continue their fair trade work during times of quarantine.
Our partners in Mexico work in a rural, quite isolated town. They've informed us that they're alarmed by everything happening in the news and quite scared, but they're all physically fine. They continue to work on orders and do their best to keep spirits high. Our artisan partners in Mexico already primarily work from home, so they're able to continue their work while social distancing.
Artisans in Ethiopia report being well and with nothing "bad happening." They are taking precautions, however, and all working from home at this point, given that they anticipate a spread of the virus within the next two weeks. Their primary struggle at this point is a shortage of raw materials due to the COVID-19 scare. They're concerned some products will be delayed as a result, but they're all physically fine.
Stay safe, everyone. Thank you for continuing to support our artisan partners during this time.