A tale of two boys
Tom is 10 years old and is from Sydney Australia.
He is in Grade 6, plays Rep Soccer and does really well at school.
His favourite chocolate is Turkish Delight.
He gets $2 a week pocket money and puts the bins out each week.
He would like to be a Famous Soccer player when he grows up.
Franck is 10 years old who was born in Mali.
He has never been to school
When his Father died, Franck was taken by a stranger to the Ivory Coast.
He has worked for 3 years in Cocoa Fields.
He does not get any money for his work
He gets some food, and the clothes he is wearing.
He has never eaten Chocolate.
He doesn’t know what Cocoa is for.
He has scars on his leg where he was using a Machettie to cut through the
Franck is a child slave.
Tom won life’s lotto at birth. Franck did not.
I love chocolate, but in 2006 when I heard that my chocolate may have been
made on the back of kids like Franck it lost much of its sweetness. A
friend mentioned it to me in passing, and on doing some research I couldn’t
believe what I found. Over 70% percent of the world’s cocoa beans come from
West Africa (http://ow.ly/ZJEW4), where there are hundreds of thousands of
children working in the cocoa industry (many under the most dangerous
conditions) including children like Franck who have been trafficked.
When I first heard about this, my first question was what can I do about it?
Did I want to continue eating Chocolate that was made with someone else’s
That’s when I discovered certification practices that ensure the chocolate I
buy really is sweet. There are three certification programs that are
working to ensure that child labour is eradicated.
My favourite and probably the most well known is Fairtrade
(http://ow.ly/ZJGxG), which ensure farmers get a fair price and a fair go.
In 2013 I was awarded the honour of Fairtrade Supporter of the Year, and the
prize was a trip to a Fairtrade Farm in Papua New Guinea.
It was really exciting to see Fairtrade on the ground, and I am now happy if I need to pay
a bit more for my products as I can see where it is going (you can read a
summary of my trip here http://ow.ly/ZJHh0
UTZ is a newer certification program with a focus on sustainable farming,
with guidelines on labour rights, and a ban on child labour. UTZ is
becoming increasingly available, and is another good one to keep an eye out
Rainforest Certified is a certification program focused on Sustainable
aggreiculture. Children on Rainforest Alliance Certified farms, are not
permitted to work, and are guaranteed access to school, decent housing and
health care. http://ow.ly/ZJHQ4
When you read Tom and Franck’s story, you can have a pang of guilt and
quickly forget about it.
Or you can ask yourself “What can I do?”
- Maybe you could learn more, teach others, ask companies to do there bit. My 8 year old wrote an awesome letter to Cadbury about their problems with “chocolet” needing to be “farchard”.
- Meet with companies, bake a cake with Fairtrade Ingredients and share with your work colleagues about how no children were harmed in the making of your cake.
- At Halloween go door to door giving out certified chocolate with a
note about what it is.
- Run a party (for adults or kids) with a Fair-trade theme – you could have a pin the logo on the chocolate, and play Chocolate
games with certified chocolates.
The list is endless, and limited only by your imagination.
So how about this Easter, before you buys your eggs you think about what you
can do to make life fairer for kids like Franck.
Recommended links and resources
Where to buy Fairtrade Easter Eggs;
Where to learn more and idea’s for action;
A useful resource to teach your kids
“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do
something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can
Edward Everett Hale
Bek McClellan won the Fair-trade Supporter of the Year in 2013. She is passionate about a fair life for all. You can read more about her story here. She is also a mother, wife, friend and excellent physiotherapist.