March Mine Visit: Part 1.
We hold a lot of importance in our relationships with our miners. We don't simply say we believe in ethical mining practices, we dedicate time and money into building and maintaining lasting relationships with the people who work to make the gold and silver industry fair. This month Cred director Alan Frampton went to Peru, here is part one of his story:
The journey from Lima to Sotrami is 600km south to a town called Yauca. Here you need a decent 4x4 as you head inland from the Pacific coast up into the Andes. The journey is slow and arduous as you climb to 8000ft above sea level. The roads are cut into the side of the mountain and in places have considerable drops as we make our way to Santa Filomena. The last hour of the journey you realise just how isolated these people are.
On arrival, the mine security check you in and you put on a visitors vest and a safety helmet . It was then straight into a half hour induction presentation. This was primarily health and safety but also included a piece on just how dangerous mining is.
My primary concern was to see how the Fairtrade premium was being spent. So off I went to see the medical centre and the local Doctor. Doctors trained by the state have to do a one year placement in rural areas. This village has 3000 people living here and the doctor is supported by 4 nurses/ helpers. I was proudly shown the new 4x4 ambulance which is used for serious cases that are taken to the nearest town. It is a basic medical centre and when I asked what the Dr needed the most she said a fenced compound to keep all the stray dogs out.
Further down the dust main road we came to the secondary school. The 180 students were on summer holiday but the teachers were preparing for a new term starting at the end of march. They were very proud and enthusiastic . They have improved standards dramatically over the last five years. Then only 30% made it to further education! now it's 70%. Basic rooms with old computers were the most basic of facilities. When asked what they needed most "a new roof " came the reply. The existing tin roof had a lot of leaks in which were a threat to the computers. Whilst the classrooms were basic the students did have an all weather small playing ground outside for sport. The largest expanse of green for 50 miles.
Across the road was the bigger primary school where currently they have 300 students. The teachers were in a meeting the day I arrived and I asked them the same question, "What was there biggest challenge". The reply stunned me. "Safe toilets for the children". They currently use huts on the side of the mountain.....which is the custom up here. They also wanted to move the school away from the busy dusty road, understandably and get some shade up over the playground as the sun was dangerous at this altitude to their skin.
Lunch with the miners in the "Comedor" was very revealing. The miners do everything by hand including climbing up and down 1000ft by ladder twice a day as they go in and out of the mine. They eat substantial amounts of food prepared by a team of cooks. Large portions of chicken, rice and vegetable soup didn't last long in front of this lot. The average height is about 5ft but these men are as strong a group of men I have ever seen. Breakfast , lunch and dinner prepared for them every day to ensure they stay strong and healthy. Just remember when they go food shopping for this lot they have to go 80 miles...To get to the closest one.
It's for this reason that we do what we do, pioneering ethical mining practices with beautiful design to change the world for the better.