Charles Mugwe -Gitugi“My name is Charles Mugwe. I am a tea farmer in Othaya, which is in Nyeri county of Kenya. Othaya is famous for producing high quality tea that is exported to the UK and other parts of the world. Gitugi Primary School is one of the primary schools in this area. It was established in 1958 and today it has over 350 students from class 1 to class 8. This area has a high enrolment, retention and completion ratio which means that both girls and boys are able to attend school which is the most important foundation for their future.

Actually I was a student here myself and today I am the headmaster of the same school, a position I have held since January last year. Two former students have also been headmasters here, which illustrates the strong sense of community that we all share. When I was a student here we had to collect water from the stream at the bottom of the hill. Then in 2000 a water tank was built. But it was the only one for over 10 years, and as the school grew so did the demand for access to safe water for students and staff.

Gitugi Tea Factory received its Fairtrade certification in 2010. In 2012 the tea farmers who supply it, prioritised the use of Fairtrade Premium to improve the water needs of their children . Thereafter the Gitugi Fairtrade Premium Committee gave this school 100,000 Kenya shillings (1,000 dollars) to install 2 more tanks of 5,000 litres each storage capacity and piping. So today the children attend a school which has a more hygienic environment. The water tanks enable them to wash their hands after using the toilets, after playing and before meals. The water is also used to wash the classrooms and for the first time we installed a water sink in the staff room. We have had had no rainfall in this area for the last six months. The rains that should have come in October last year did not come. Without the storage in the water tanks the situation at the school would have been very difficult for the staff and students. I have seen the difference that Fairtrade Premium has made for these children on a practical day-to-day level. Our school grades continue to improve and both girls and boys are motivated to attend school.

Fairtrade has contributed to a stronger community committed to giving their children a brighter future. My appeal to tea consumers is to continue buying Fairtrade certified tea so that children in Kenya and elsewhere can enjoy a clean, safe and hygienic school environment and grow up in a better world. Thank you Fairtrade for making a big difference. We ask you to join our campaign through #yourcupmydignity  and let the world know about the impact of buying Fairtrade.”