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!

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!

Discussions at Nestlé

Silence has prevailed for a few months, the C.R.E.E.R board have been busy with a number of projects for future fundraising.  On return from the founder’s visit from Cote d’Ivoire, we rang Nestlé again who were already aware of us, to explain what happened on the trip there.

Nestlé invited us to Vevey, their HQ in Switzerland at 10am on 9th July.  Train tickets for the Founder & Treasurer were duly booked & a hostel reservation was made.  The day of departure, the Treasurer wasn’t well with a bad back that had been a problem over the weekend.  On Monday 8th July, the Founder found herself alone boarding the train to Vevey via Geneva & Nimes.

After a long 11hour train trip with 3 changes, Vevey was in sight, a beautiful town on Lake Leman!

??????????DSCN2288??????????The meeting started at 10am,  Nestle has it’s own Avenue in Vevey; a short walk from the lovely ‘Grande Place’.  A presentation had already been put together for the meeting with a few extra support letters arriving at the last minute that needed printing out.

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Overall, the meeting went well, C.R.E.E.R is a ‘new’ NGO without a building as yet or children so the fact that Nestle’s door remains open is a positive.

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However a few questions were puzzling.  Without wanting to explicity say ‘there are trafficked children on cocoa farms in Cote d’Ivoire (which we are SURE you are aware of)’ there were a few questions that were raised in regards as to ‘where’ the children for the centre would appear from.

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Surely this is obvious, there are children out there that have runaway from their enslavement and living on the streets.  There are children that are arriving at the borders that need specialist assistance & not to be put in an orphanage.  There are also those children that may hear of us & come to us.  However C.R.E.E.R will not be visiting farms to extract children from cocoa farmers, this would cause chaos!

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A second issue was the repatriation.  C.R.E.E.R will be working with other organisations both on a governmental level & in terms of iNGO’s such as UNICEF, Oxfam etc to ensure that repatriation will give a solid future for each child.  Of course we cannot assess & are not ‘gods’ to make the decision for each child but we aren’t prepared to repatriate a child to a home where the family may re-sell that child or they aren’t accepted into the community.  Those that ‘can’t’ go home for whatever reason will be offered a place on a long term basis in the centre; but this won’t be our work, it will be the work of external organisations to ensure their future.

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Another point that was raised was why the government aren’t carrying out this project.  It was clearly stated that the government had built two centres for a total cost of US$206,000 & had written about this in the US AID TIP 2013 which they then refused to acknowledge any donations as their trafficking problem would be kept in-house.  The centre that we visited in 2011 during the crisis was built in a shantytown.  It had never been used, it was vandalised, people were squatting on the land with their own buildings … need we go on???  Sorry, but Nestlé, had you done your homework on this?

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We were touched by the letter from Mr. Outtara, a Director of a governmental agency that we met in Abengourou who strongly wrote in our favour.  As well as many other supporters including our US based Ghanaian consultant.

Support from all our followers is still needed to ensure that Nestlé as well as other companies support our mission, that we can get this project off the ground!

Thanks for continuing to follow us!

Excellent piece on the situation!  Please think about the origin of your chocolate this Easter!

Listen Girlfriends!

With Valentine’s Day behind us and Easter just a few weeks away, I thought there was no better time to write a post on the chocolate industry than now, when ‘chocolate season’ seems to be in full bloom. Even though it may seem that I am taking somewhat of a detour from my current series on fashion by writing about all things cocoa, the fact is, the chocolate and textile industries share much in common. Both produce things that give people around the world pleasure, and yet that pleasure often comes at a cost. My previous posts on fashion, conflict minerals and technology have attempted to reveal the obstacles in maintaining transparency across our global supply chains, and chocolate is no exception here. If glamor is a facade that often hides the exploitation behind the fashion industry, then the sweetness of chocolate found within the brightly foiled wrappers can…

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