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PAI In Action

2015: A New House for Fidel

Packing house worker, Fidel Mercado, attended a training meeting earlier this year to discuss the upcoming harvest when he unexpectedly passed out and fell to the floor. He was taken to the local doctor where they discovered Fidel wasn’t ill, which was great news. What they discovered though was Fidel was malnourished and needed to take better care of himself.

Fidel is what’s called a “general purpose worker”, which means he knows and works with everyone. Because of his role in the packing house he is well-liked by all his co-workers. After missing a week of work, his co-workers and friends became increasingly concerned and inquired as to where he lived.

They found Fidel living in a dilapidated structure built of cartons, nylon and wood, which further increased their worry. After leaving Fidel’s crumbling shack, they voted to use some of the Fair for Life premiums collected towards building materials for a new house. His coworkers didn’t stop there—over the course of the next five months, a large group of them (15 to 20), including Fidel, constructed his new house.

Fidel is pictured, left above, laying bricks for the walls of his house.
Fidel’s health has returned and he is living in his new house built by his co-workers with funds collected from sales of Awe Sum Organics Fair for Life pears.

PAI’s Worker Community Representatives include seven orchard groups, as well as two additional groups, one from the packing house and one from cold storage. Each of these nine groups has a representative who presents ideas for their group on how to use the Fair for Life premiums collected each season. When all the ideas have been discussed, the nine representatives vote on which ideas to support.

Located in the upper valley of the Rio Negro River, the local community has a population of approximately 100,000 people. Fruit production and packing is at the top of the list of local employment opportunities, with apple production being the most important identifier of the community. Many in the local community are employed by PAI, but during the harvest a number of people come from the north to assist with the extra work the harvest creates.

Every time a Fair for Life pear is purchased here in North America, the workers at PAI experience a better place to live and work, and they are very appreciative.

Read more about Fair for Life, and how it works, or download program details.

2015: An Operation for Santiago

The premiums collected from the 2013 growing season were held and added to 2014 funds. These combined funds, ($21,548), will be used to pay for the operation of Santiago Fernandez (pictured on the left), a local boy who needs eye surgery. Santiago’s operation is set for May 20, 2015. The balance of funds will be used to buy a jacket for each of the 275 workers. Winters in this region of Patagonia can be chilly, and these jackets will add comfort for every worker during the coldest winter months.

2012: New Shoes

At the end of the 2012 growing season, PAI’s worker representatives voted to buy shoes for the workers in the orchard, using Fair for Life funds collected ($9,380). Ninty-two workers ages 18 to 65, received a sturdy pair of shoes to keep their feet warm and dry. The image (on the right) shows the boxes of shoes stacked in the back of the delivery truck, just before being distributed to the field workers.

More information about PAI can be found here.