Happy New Year

It may be over two weeks late, but we would like to wish all our followers a happy, healthy & wealthy 2014!

A lot has been happening at C.R.E.E.R’s base in France and in Cote d’Ivoire.

The founder & Vice President’s daughter (also a member) are due to leave for Cote d’Ivoire under their own financial means in 3 weeks time.  Flying initially into Ouagadougou, they will go south via Ghana doing some research.

Due to the quietness of our promise in Abengourou despite much personal financial input into the trip in March 2013 by the founder, it seems that the promise of land was yet another false hope.  After the promises made in Ayame in January 2011 of a tract of land, the future was looking desolate a few weeks ago, but we will not give up!

There are other leads and ideas to get C.R.E.E.R on the road to starting up in Cote d’Ivoire which sends two of the team southbound.  The idea is to look at other plots of land & establish if they are feasible to be bought; this is a major problem in the country, land is often squabbled over within families & the title deeds never come to fruition.  The board want to be sure that the land that will be built upon won’t be retrieved after a building has been constructed.  In the mean time, our Treasurer is holding onto our funds ready to use them when there’s a green light.

2013 was a long journey, hopes, promises & false promises; it was difficult for the whole team to believe that this would be a reality!  We need support on a worldwide basis.  To help us; we’re doing the right thing, however long it takes.  Rome wasn’t built in a day but then again there are children out there NOW who need help, who have been trafficked.

Moreover, we’ve now also got word of children being trafficked for rubber & teak plantations, the need is forever growing!

Looking forward to keeping in touch with supporters with hopefully good news in early March!

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Fair Trade in France & FranceO TV programme

Last night, FranceO ‘Investigatiôns’ screened Miki Mistrati & Ange Aboa’s film «Le Goût amer du chocolat» (“Shady Chocolate” is the English name)

Thankfully we were notified by Miki that it was due to screen and tried to put the word out amongst our followers in France far & wide to gain more interest!

It’s coming up to Christmas, people are out shopping, chocolate is piled high in all the shops … most of the chocolate on offer is the type that we know is coming from ‘unknown’ sources; i.e. you just can’t be sure if trafficked children have been involved with its production.

Interestingly we’ve been looking at ‘Fair Trade’ chocolate here in France.  ‘Chocolat Equitable’ is usually in a bar/tablet form in shops and becoming increasingly popular with many shoppers, despite the premium price.  However, following discussions with friends and colleagues, it seems that they buy it because they know that there’s no involvement of child labour.

We’re very happy with that; people are becoming more & more aware of the cocoa industry!

But when you examine it a little closer, this chocolate does adhere to fair trade because most of it comes from the Dominican Republic or Peru etc.  There’s seems to be very little involvement of sourcing cocoa in West Africa. 

So to skirt around the problem of child trafficking and child labour, they’ve diverted away from Africa to buy cocoa from countries where the situation doesn’t exist (as far as we know).  In the “Shady Chocolate” film last night, Miki went to investigate the fair trade situation in Ghana.

We’re not against fair trade if it’s truly ‘fair’ http://fairreporters.net/2012/11/14/the-fairtrade-rip-off/ , but looking at the bigger picture by companies such as Alter Eco & Kaoka in France.  Are their efforts of sourcing cocoa in places such as Peru, Dominican Republic & Ecuador to name a few, going to go against the cocoa planters in W.Africa who desperately need investment & pricing parity to enable them to invest in their farms & without child labour?

Isn’t it like burying your head in the sand if all fair trade cocoa purchasing is carried out away from the problems we know exist in West Africa?

Click HERE for more information about the film! http://www.shady-chocolate.com

Any chocolate companies reading this; we do have a plan, supporting farmers & assisting C.R.E.E.R who aim to help the victims of trafficking!  Please get in touch …

Street children: A conceptual approach

C.R.E.E.R.: brief # 1

By Sébastien Jadot – Policy Analyst, C.R.E.E.R

Forewords

It is always a privilege to be a part of a new project. It is even more rewarding when the project is teamed with partners from a variety of backgrounds that are all related in one way or another to Africa. All of us at C.R.E.E.R. have put our experience in African affairs together to make a positive change in the lives of children in Côte d’Ivoire. The phenomenon of street children that is dear to C.R.E.E.R. is a rather complicated topic to discuss and even more so to debate as it touches upon the very fabric of the state; that of its future – of its children.

Street children: Why the briefs?

While people may be familiar with C.R.E.E.R. and the organization’s goals, some may be less familiar with the intrinsic relationships between street children and the social, political, economic or even cultural variables that are interwoven within the street children discourse. The briefs will provide development updates, testimonies and policy analysis, to name a few, that will help to better grasp the necessity for decision makers in Côte d’Ivoire to put the street children phenomenon on the national agenda. We also aim to provide you with as many updates as possible on what C.R.E.E.R. is doing on the ground.

The first brief reflects on the street children phenomenon as a nebulous and often catch-all term that even policymakers find hard to define. While street children are visible, they often remain in the shadows of a definitional maze that has international organizations face a cultural relativism wall of how children are perceived in their respective country.

Street children : Who are they?

Finding an official definition for ‘street children’ is extremely difficult. Human rights practitioners from various backgrounds have, for decades, tried to propose alternative definitions of street children. Many of these definitions have evolved with time and have been refined by the continuing research in multidisciplinary social sciences, policymaking, media exposure to name a few that continue the exploration of the street children phenomenon.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) presents a tridimensional categorisation of ‘street children’:

  • Children ‘of’ the street (presently framed as street-living children), who live on the street, are functionally without their family support;

  • Children ‘on’ the street’ (presently framed as street-working children), who work on the streets and go home their family at night;

  • ‘Street-family children’ who live with their family on the street.1

A most common definition for ‘street children’ was proposed by Inter-Ngo in 1983: “Any girl or boy who has not reached adulthood, for whom the street in the widest sense of the word, including unoccupied dwellings, wasteland, and so on, has become his or her habitual abode and/or source of livelihood, and who is inadequately protected, directed, and supervised by responsible adults.”2 The term was later used by the Commission on Human Rights in 1994.3

Today, however, the definition has become more encompassing of new realities. In its latest 2012 report, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), in partnership with UNICEF, the Consortium for Street Children, and Aviva reported that today “‘street children’ is understood as a socially constructed category that, in practice, does not constitute a homogeneous population, making the term difficult to use for research, policymaking and intervention design.”4 For the Committee on the Rights of the Child “children in street situations” has become the term of choice as is the term “children with street connections” all of which still compete with older terms. The definitional maze is thus alive and well.5

C.R.E.E.R. acknowledges that street children form a fluid and dynamic group that is often marginalized from having a positive participation in the life of their country or host country. This happens despite the fact that street children are active economic agents of a country’s economy, a detail often overlooked and eclipsed by the role played by adults.6 All too frequently, street-children face enormous challenges in gaining access to education, health care but also face violence and exploitation on the street and often in the very institutions tasked to protect them. These impediments greatly reduce the potential for access to social, political and economic opportunities.

Arguably, the narrative will vary with location; from the urban city centres, to the suburbs or in remote rural areas with always an emphasis on local support from both the formal-official channels and informal power structure such as local chiefs, religious leaders. Moreover, adversities such as conflict, climate change and natural disasters, migration, urbanisation, economic hardship, gender discrimination are a few examples that continue to shape the street children debate. The complexity of properly addressing street children at the political base thus confirms the need to effectively unite and garner support from all actors of the civil society. Tackling such phenomenon is thus anything but an easy task. The latter is worsened when decision makers, for a variety of reasons, choose not to or simply fail to intervene, thus putting in jeopardy their country’s very own future; its children; their next generation What is important to note here is that the complexity and specificity of these realities must always be observed through a multi-sectoral approach that avoids the simplification of a phenomenon that cannot be blamed on a single issue.

Street children : Deconstructing the prejudice

A major critic of the street children phenomenon is that it tends to be categorised under a single negative connation that often times eclipses the multidimensional realities that are at play within a particular area where street children are found. The observation is shared by various scholars who emphasize the importance of deconstructing “the concept of street child” which has come to be associated with a life of crime and delinquency.7 A mistake when it is the street that often becomes the child’s unique mean of survival and education. The key element here is to evaluate how street children’s life can be bettered vis à vis a society that has often put them aside. It is exactly because street children’s social status is ranked very low that they are limited in their access to the structure of society. Social and economic exclusions represent a pool of grievances that can quickly be turned into a powerful tool for political destabilisation of which children often become easily coerced into joining.  Sierra Leone or Liberia are perfect illustration of how youth, many of them street children, were coerced into joining militias.

A negative trend has worsened in recent years in part because of conflict, economic hardship, climate-change related factors; that of child trafficking. Based on C.R.E.E.R.’s conceptual approach, trafficked children fall within the social and economic actor category with many of them fitting the street children narrative. While many factors may impact the nature of how and why children are trafficked, a nefarious reality becomes evidently visible on the streets when one actually takes the time to understand that behind every street child there is a story – of which trafficking is but one component.

C.R.E.E.R. – moving beyond invisible children

Human trafficking is the story that C.R.E.E.R. has undertaken to address and with it that of trafficked children. They are invisible to us, nothing can set them apart, but the reality for many street children goes back to that of trafficking. They may occupy jobs as hawkers, street vendors-traders, some may have run away from their place of employment, while others may be forced into prostitution with only the street as exit strategy. With only the street as backdrop, street children struggle to regain their status in society and many, due to a lack of government oversight, fail to aptly use their social capital and skills because of the trafficking stigma. Their stories continue to fuel the street children definitional debate of who is responsible, who is to intervene and who is to prevent trafficking from continuing.

C.R.E.E.R. firmly believes that results can only be achieved with the full support of the authorities at the local, regional and national level along with the participation of grassroots movements. International support is but the logistic linkage that helps facilitate the process of policy implementation. Trafficking is not a result of a particular policy but rather the sum of a myriad of factors that lead children to be trafficked in the first place. Therefore, C.R.E.E.R. is not to replace the state in terms of stopping trafficking but to provide the foundation by which sustainable solutions can be further developed into policies. Such development would first and foremost enhance trafficked street children’s potential for reintegration into society by providing them with a way to reunite with their families and by providing skills, education which are quintessential factors to casting off the social stigma attached to them both at home and in their new environment.

1 UNICEF, 1985. Worksheet for the Regional Operating Plan for Abandoned and Street Children. UNICEF, Geneva.

2 Inter-NGO Programme on Street Children and Street Youth, Sub-regional seminar for the Mediterranean, Marseilles, 24th-27th October 1983: summary of proceedings.

3 ‘The plight of street children’, A/RES/49/212, United Nations, 23 December 1994, http://www.un.org.

4 ‘Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the protection and promotion of the rights of children working

and/or living on the street’, United Nations, 11 January 2012, http://www.ohchr.org.

5Ibid.

6 Levison, D., 2000. Children as economic agents. Feminist Economics 6(1), pp. 125-134.

7 Wiencke, M., 2008. Theoretical reflections on the life world of Tanzanian street children. Anthropology Matters Journal, 10(2), pp. 1-24.

Adieu Robin

It’s with a very heavy heart that we have to say goodbye to the talented film maker U. Roberto Romano who drew the world’s attention to child slavery in ‘The Dark Side of Chocolate’, ‘Shady Chocolate’ & ‘The Harvest’ amongst others.

For C.R.E.E.R he was an advocate of human rights, unafraid to take on the big companies, never short of time to give us advice for the future of C.R.E.E.R.

Robin, you’re somewhere up there, a shining star who left us too early; a voice in the massive world of child slavery.  You’ll never be forgotten, your words will continue to ring in our ears to ensure justice is being done.  We will continue the battle to eradicate child labour, to work with the cocoa companies, to continue your legacy & rehabilitate trafficked children.

U. Roberto Romano 1956-2013

U. Roberto Romano 1956-2013

Your voice will live on, you’ll not be forgotten.  Rest in perfect peace Robin!

What hope is there?

A great thanks is owed to Miki Mistrati & Ange Aboa for creating this new online documentary from Burkina Faso, released this morning.

What hope is there for these children & families where the boys aged as young as 12 without any education feel the need to go & work on cocoa plantations to earn money.  Sadly they return without any payment after several years labour.

The villagers say 400-450 a year from a town of 16,000 are trafficked annually, that’s just from one township in one of the neighbouring countries where we know there’s a source of trafficking!  Not just cocoa, we also have to think of those that end up in domestic servitude, prostitution & the mining industry … there are too many!

Halloween Chocolate

Trick or treating is upon us whether we like it or not!

Have you already bought chocolate for Halloween?

Did you read http://nexis.co.uk/pdf/Dark_Chocolate.pdf

The ongoing trafficking of children in Cote d’Ivoire & across the rest of West Africa is an ongoing battle. 

The children that are trafficked for cocoa are a percentage along with those trafficked for domestic servitude and prostitution amongst other ‘trades’.  Major companies such as Hersheys, Cadburys, Ferrero, Mondelez, Green & Blacks, Mars, ADM, Barry Callebaut are all guilty.  

When did you last check the origin of the chocolate you’re eating or give to your children?

Can you make a difference?  Are you able to assist our cause?  Highlight the situation of trafficking in West Africa?

When you open your door to children who ask for chocolate, will you tell them the truth?  That their peers are being bought for as little as 50€ to be sold on as slaves in the chocolate industry and elsewhere???

Help us at C.R.E.E.R to help them, thank you!

Aminah is on her way

Aminah is on her way south to us; at 3pm today was south of Orleans heading to us in deepest southern France.  www.overlandingwestafrica.com‘s shiny blue ‘truck’ with her new stickers for the 2013/2014 season .  Our boxes will once again be taken by Aminah ready for our centre in Cote d’Ivoire!  Overlanding West Africa are yet again being generous with a donation from their ticket sales to support our future centre to rehabilitate trafficked children in West Africa!

Aminah with her new flags

Aminah with her new flags

And so CNN had to leave …

But not without a great second day with our team in Cote d’Ivoire took CNN Freedom Project Presenter Richard Quest & team to Divo meeting planters en masse, offering them chocolate which many won’t have tasted before as they don’t have the means to pay for it.   Sadly the box the chocolate is in is probably the equivalent to a days salary at most!

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C.R.E.E.R’s Secretary PC with CNN Freedom Project’s Richard Quest & cocoa planters in Divo, Cote d’Ivoire

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Richard Quest, CNN’s Freedom Project offering chocolates to cocoa planters in Divo; many won’t have tried chocolates & the cost of manufacturing the box is probably a days salary for many!

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CNN’s Richard Quest being filmed in Divo by Beau Molloy

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Group goodbyes, from L to R: Erick Attiapo, C.R.E.E.R’s Director, Matt, CNN’s Executive Producer, PC, C.R.E.E.R’s Secretary of the Board in Cote d’Ivoire & Beau Molloy, CNN Cameraman

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Just before CNN’s Richard Quest flew out of Abidjan, with PC & Erick from C.R.E.E.R either side of him

The trip was a great success for CNN & for C.R.E.E.R to be involved, although CNN Freedom project was following up on child labour in cocoa plantations; what mustn’t be forgotten is that there are children also being trafficked for domestic servitude & prostitution!

CNN have arrived!

We are incredibly proud to have CNN International in Cote d’Ivoire with our team.

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C.R.E.E.R’s future Director, Erick with Matt, CNN’s Executive Producer early this morning

It’s been kept a secret for the last two months whilst preparations were underway in London, New York & Cote d’Ivoire to assist their crew of four; Richard Quest, CNN’s Business Presenter is part of the team that is currently filming.

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Short roadside break for Richard Quest & Matt to take some photos!

Our Ivorian team have been instrumental in assisting CNN’s passage to Cote d’Ivoire with visas & helping arrange meetings.  We’re also indebted to U. Roberto Romano, Cinematographer (Shady Chocolate & Dark Side of Chocolate) who assisted our cause with a dinner meeting in New York.

This morning at 7am, our Secretary, Paul Camille & Director, Erick picked up the CNN team at their hotel.

They have gone up-country & are showing CNN ‘another’ side of Cote d’Ivoire for three days.  CNN were initially invited by Nestle’s President to carry out filming on the progress that they’ve made since CNN’s last film about cocoa production & child labour.

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Roll, camera, action … in a cocoa plantation!

Currently as this is typed they’re deep into a cocoa plantation & filming as this photo shows; we’ll update you as we hear more from them!

Thanks for your support!

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C.R.E.E.R’s Secretary with CNN’s Anchor Richard Quest

#FreedomProject our post about CNN’s 1st film:  https://creercentre.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/182/

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Richard Quest, CNN Anchor discussing with PC & Erick from C.R.E.E.R in a cocoa plantation near Agboville, Cote d’Ivoire

Akwaba Sébastien!

We are thrilled to welcome Sébastien Jadot to the C.R.E.E.R team, based in Brussels, Belgium; seat of the EU government he has an excellent background to join C.R.E.E.R as a Policy Analyst and on a benevolent level.

Sébastien wrote an excellent article on the historical & political background to cocoa farming; highlighting the reasons why the farmers are in need of child labour:

http://www.consultancyafrica.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1190%3Acote-divoires-blood-beans-big-men-politics-conflict-and-environmental-degradation-in-the-land-of-cocoa-&catid=92%3Aenviro-africa&Itemid=297

He will be working closely with C.R.E.E.R’s teams in France & Cote d’Ivoire, as well as our supporters globally.  He will be writing policy briefs exploring debates regarding child trafficking for the cocoa from an EU perspective and their policies in regards to cocoa plantations with Cote d’Ivoire as a particular focus.

We’re particularly keen to work with EU government policy makers & stakeholders to make a change for the future as well as providing support to C.R.E.E.R & the start of the centre!

As is said in Cote d’Ivoire ‘Akwaba’ & thank you for agreeing to join us!!!