A few weekends ago I attended a Christian men’s conference “Meeting the challenge”. Amongst other great pastoral discussion about suffering, the way we speak, and other issues, we were challenged on one very important but also fairly easy to solve social justice issue, the use of child slavery for growing cocoa. That’s right, when you eat chocolate the overwhelming probability is that unless it is Fair Trade, you are eating chocolate that was grown by either child labour on the family farm, or worse, kidnapped child slaves.
Missionary and Doctor Max Collison ran a session outlining some of the great social justice issues Christians have been active in the past during the ‘Great Awakenings’ such as Wilberforce’s abolition of slavery, child labour, education for children, worker’s conditions in industrial factories, public health, the old age pension, all these were great achievements of the church in the last few hundred years.
The chocolate slavery trade seems ready to fall. We can do this if we work together on it! We can stop the child labour of 200 thousand kids in the ivory coast and the child slavery of 12 to 15,000 children kidnapped as child slaves.
If we keep eating ‘normal’ chocolate, we are just like Edmund from Narnia, betraying children ‘for sweeties’. Twelve thousand child slaves and 200 thousand child labourers in fact!
So if you want to help motivate fellow churches and Christians to help prevent child slavery in growing cocoa, then please join Mightychurch.com (where you can discuss all sorts of other Christian matters) but in particular bookmark this thread, and let us know how your letter to your local member of Parliament was received.
Here are some guidelines as to how to write a letter from Max Collison.
1. At the Men for Christ conference you expressed along with many others an strong interest in protesting about the horrific conditions in which chocolate is harvested in the Ivory Coast. I am supplying here a copy as a suggestion a letter and that I am sending myself.
So this is a possible format for a letter to some one who could make a change in the situation. Say send it to your local member or to any other organisation you feel could affect a change in this cruel trade. I would suggest you use this as a guide only and so change it into your words, the more changes the better. It’s fairly mild in its current form. Feel free to step it up. Can I also suggest you write this as a letter rather than an email, letters appear to have more impact. Why not send 2 or 3 letters to different people and what about enlisting others to write also?
You can find the details for correspondence to your local member or others from the following web sites.
2. here’s a video link – to a video that won an anticocoa slavery contest at our church this year. You may like to pass it on.
3. you may like to formulate a prayer and put it on the wall where you shave as a reminder to pray. If you do, please let me know and I’ll encourage others.
4. if you want to get off the email list, or a friend on to it – just let me know.
6 September 2009
4321 First Street
Anytown, NSW 2155
I am offended that the sale of chocolate in NSW allows the multinational confectionary manufacturers to maintain a system that forces cocoa farmers in the Ivory Coast to use child labour. In effect this means when I purchase almost any chocolate product in this state I am supporting child slavery.
Australians do not approve of slavery we do not approve of people who profit from slavery. We are rightly revolted by the thought of child slavery. Yet all the chocolate companies in this country with minor exceptions profit from the sweat of stolen children who are not paid for their labour and are regularly beaten.
The evidence for this is well know it is clearly documented by the research done for the US Senate and the International Labour Organization. In the Ivory Coast it is estimated that close to 200,000 children are cocoa labourers. But more appallingly there are an estimated 12,000 children currently being used as slaves. Certainly the international chocolate companies know these facts and largely do not dispute them. US Senate investigated this and two senators exposed this crime. When world attention was drawn to this atrocity in 2001 they signed an agreement which is now called the Harkin-Engel protocol and promised to act. This voluntary agreement promised to end the worst of these wicked child labour practices by 2005.
However since the chocolate companies promised to do this and signed the agreement little has in fact changed, the world still eats chocolate that is largely harvested by forced child labour. More critically the owners of the chocolate plantations do to get a fair return for their product. Those in the Ivory coast have to resort to child slavery to survive.
There is a large amount of information that supports and gives the detail on this at these web sites.
Cocoa Protocol – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia13 Jun 2009 … The Harkin-Engel Protocol, commonly referred to as the Cocoa Protocol … Harkin and Engel worked with the cocoa and chocolate industry to…en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cocoa_Protocol
Harkin-Engel Protocol on Chocolate and Child Slavery Expires on July 130 Jun 2005 … San Francisco, CA — July 1, 2005 will mark the expiration of the Harkin-Engel Protocol, a voluntary protocol agreed to by the chocolate ..www.globalexchange.org/update/press/3227.html
HARKIN, ENGEL, CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS, WORK TO ELIMINATE CHILD …30 Oct 2007 … In 2001, Harkin and Engel worked with the chocolate and cocoa industries to develop a framework for the cocoa industry to eliminate the ..harkin.senate.gov/pr/p.cfm?i=286485
I am asking that you raise this wicked practice of the by chocolate industry companies in the NSW Parliament. I ask that the NSW government make a formal protest to the large chocolate companies about their continued failure to right this obvious wrong.