Thursday, October 23, 2008

Big Chocolate, Just Say "Yes!"

Alrighty, so here is the first project of this blog. Yay!

The West African countries of Ghana and then Ivory Coast produce some 70% of the world’s cocoa. Most of the farms operate on the backs of slave labour. People are brought over, or trafficked, from neighbouring countries to work in the Ghana and Ivory Coast cocoa plantations. It is estimated that more than 284,000 children in West African cocoa farms work under the ‘worst forms of child labour’. So these kids work long and hard hours, deal with tools like machetes and they are often exposed to dangerous chemicals and pesticides.
The main problem is that world cocoa costs are far below the cost of production, meaning that the farmers have a lot less money. Farmers are often driven to employ trafficked labour and children because they are readily available and a cheap source of labour, if they are paid at all.
So who’s to blame? Well the Farmers are at the beginning, they get little pay for their extreme efforts to farm the little land they own. With no way to check global pricings, they are completely at the mercy of their cocoa buyer. The Ghana and Ivory Coast Governments are doing the little they can with the resources and little money that they have. The will to end the slavery and exploited labour in their country is there, they just lack the resources and money they need to do so. The Chocolate Companies ultimately get their massive profits from the kids at the bottom of the chain. They have the money and the power to eradicate slavery from its supply chains, all it lacks is the will.
Here is where we, the consumers, step into the picture. The “Big Chocolate, Just Say Yes” Campaign is run by World Vision Australia. It is all about calling on the Chocolate manufactures of Australia to make a genuine attempt to tackle the root causes of child labour in cocoa production by publicly committing to a pre written statement submitted by World Vision. The campaign is trying to get a bunch of signatures from all around Australia, to show that there is a market for ethical alternatives. So jump on board!
To get involved there is a number of things that you can do. First of all you can email me (
expectchanges@ymail.com) your first and last name, email address and your post code and I will put your name on a petition sheet. If you’re not comfortable with giving me that information over the internet, see me at school, if you go to my school, and I will be able to write it down then. If you do it one of those ways I can present all our signatures as the community at expectchanges.blogspot. If you can’t follow any of those, fill in the survey over the internet at donttradelives.com and follow the links. And finally if you want to get involved in your community, get your community group involved. You could talk to your youth group about slavery in cocoa plantations, or your sporting team, or people at your work. If you want to do that, let us know and we can help with what you should say and how you can get their signatures together.
Decide which option suits you the best, and then take action. If you’re still undecided, or want more information head over to donttradelives.com. If you decide to sign the petition over at their site, let us know so we can congratulate you on your first step to abolishing slavery. Haha how formal did that sound?? Ok well thanks for your time, get involved for this awesome cause, and get others involved too, friends and family.

Emily

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Our First Step of Hope...

video
Hi
My name is Emily and I am a young teen working to end slavery in my life time. Hey, big call for a teenager I know, but I am following in the steps of others that are redefining the expectations that society throws on our age bracket. People like Zach Hunter, Brett and Alex Harris and the 5 guys that put their heads together and built the organisation Dry Tears, Conner, Logan, Dan, Kyle, and Jared.

So, this is where it all starts. Modern Day slavery is alive and kicking all around the world. It is estimated that there is more slaves around the world now than there was in the 400 years when it was legal. 27 million people are subject to slavery, which is well over the total population of Australia, a tenth of the population of America and over 6 times the population of New Zealand; every man, every woman and every child. Your little sister, the annoying little boy down the road, the quiet kid that sits up the back of your science class, the old couple next door, your youth leaders, coach, your sport heroes, your family.

Slavery these days can take many ugly forms, things like little kids making rugs, or rolling cigars, to teenagers and women sold into the sex industry, and children and adults alike forced to work on plantations. These people are forced to work in horrific conditions for next to nothing or for no pay at all and escape is not an option because of threats of violence or worse. There are many different way that people can become enslaved. It can be parents trusting a family ‘friend’ with their child in a promise to give them an education and a better life, but they end up enslaved. It could be that a family borrowed money for an emergency medical procedure, only to find the whole family stuck as slaves to the lender, working impossible hours and for many years just to pay it off, with stacks of interest. Orphans are often picked on and kidnapped because they are alone. And sometimes it can be as simple as taking a ‘promising’ job, only to find terrible conditions and little or no pay because the employer can’t afford to pay them.

But it is not all doom and gloom, and that is why I have made this blog along with my close friend Jemma, we see the hope for these people, the kids, the adults, the youth our age. There are numerous non government organisations all working together to stop human trafficking around the world, some of them founded by young people, organisations like Loose Change to Loosen Chains (
myspace/lc2lc). Through the course of the I plan to explain the hope that we see, let you know what you can do to help, what others have done and will do, and give you an insight to the lives of slaves in their stories. Help us change the expectations that our generation has been given. Or help your son or daughter, family friend or member be the amazing person that they were created to be, don’t bring us down, because we wont be silent, not any more.

Hope to see you sticking around, I would love to hear from you, let us know who you are and how you found yourself here in the comments section of any of the blog posts we do. Any question you may have let us know by email (
expectchanges@ymail.com) or post it in the comments section. We'll get back to you =)

Thanks for reading, it means a lot to us, keep checking back, more will be up soon about our first project.

Emily and Jemma

“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant with the weak and strong. Because some day in life, you will have been all of these.”
George Washington Carver