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!

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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!

Positive moves in the right direction … time will tell! But still no one looking at the situation with the children that are living on the streets having escaped their situation or those being trafficked across the border! We mustn’t forget, C.R.E.E.R started due to ‘M’ who was in domestic servitude. The figures to find out the ratio of trafficking victims that go into cocoa, domestic servitude or prostitution would be interesting but probably very difficult to obtain and verify!

clccgOn March 12, 2013 nearly 100 interested stakeholders met to discuss the progress made in the last year by the programs of the Joint Declaration of the Harkin-Engel Protocol, towards reducing child labor in the cocoa sectors of Cote D’Ivoire and Ghana.

The Child Labor Cocoa Coordinating Group (CLCCG) task force came together in September 2010 to support the implementation of the Harkin-Engel Protocol with the goal of reducing the worst forms of child labor across the cocoa sectors of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire by 70 percent by 2020.  

The CLCCG includes representatives from the US government (Senator Harkin, Congressman Engel, Department of Labor), The Ivorian government, the Ghanaian government, and the chocolate industry.  The US DOL has pledged to support this initiative with $10 million and the industry has pledged $7 million, with an additional $3 million in potential increases to existing projects meeting the goals of the Harkin-Engel Protocol.

Tuesday’s meeting presented an opportunity for all participants to report out…

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The difference between Orphans and Trafficked Children

Following a conversation earlier with an organisation who has signed up to the Fair Labor Association; we realised the need to examine the ‘difference’ between an orphan and a trafficked child.

An orphan – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orphan

A trafficked child – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trafficking_of_children

“This can stem from a dangerous “movement” stage of trafficking or from specific aspects of the “exploitation” stage, such as hazardous working conditions. Moreover, trafficked children are often denied access to healthcare, effectively increasing their chances of serious injury and death.[2] Trafficked children are also often subject to domestic violence; they may be beaten or starved in order to ensure obedience.[2] In addition, these children frequently encounter substance abuse; they may be given drugs as “payment” or to ensure that they become addicted and thus dependent on their trafficker(s).[2] As opposed to many other forms of crime, the trauma experienced by children who are trafficked is often prolonged and repeated, leading to severe psychological impacts.[70] UN.GIFT reports that trafficked children often suffer from depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder, among other conditions.[70]

Effects on families are also severe. Some families believe that sending or allowing their children to relocate in order to find work will bring in additional income, while in reality many families will never see their trafficked children again.[2] In addition, UN.GIFT has found that certain forms of trafficking, particularly sexual exploitation in girls, bring “shame” to families.[70] Thus, in certain cases, children who are able to escape trafficking may return to their families only to find that they are rejected and ostracized.”

Orphans can be trafficked, trafficked children are put to work.

Trafficked children often have higher emotional & educational needs.

The two groups need different attention & support.

C.R.E.E.R is working for trafficked children, orphans or not!  The need for such a centre has already been identified on the ground in Cote d’Ivoire & Ghana due to the lack of these two critical elements of emotional & educational support for ‘our’ group of children.

Your assistance to rehabilitate these children is appreciated in whatever form it may be available!

Advocacy or Action?

It’s been mentioned before, there isn’t a centre in the sub-region of West Africa that solely caters for trafficked children.  Please search google; we cannot find much about what is happening to the trafficked children, but lots of advocacy about them.  Very little action.

Due to ‘M’ the little girl who was found on the beach; C.R.E.E.R was created as we recognised her needs and those of many children that have been trafficked into slavery.  They go to orphanages, who don’t have the specialist needs to cater for the emotional needs of the children.

Those are the lucky ones, others are living in the streets having escaped but lost as to where to call ‘home’ having travelled many miles with their trafficker.  Without money to return home, scared of adults who may return them to their lives of slavery; they live in the streets living on the scraps they can find.

We’ve always stuck by our claim that we’re the first residential centre offering rehabilitation, education and vocational skills  in West Africa to be created solely for trafficked children; until this week!

Cote d'Ivoire 4 Cocoa growers using trafficked children

A few days ago we came across another centre.  Not entirely the same but not entirely different.  During a phone call to their offices, there were a lot of similarities.  They cater for children from Lake Volta in Ghana who are trafficked to work in the fishing industry.  Most of the fish isn’t exported so there’s not so much advocacy about it as there is with cocoa production, domestic servitude or prostitution; where the majority of C.R.E.E.R’s future generation are expected to come from.

An incredible conversation, hearing very similar thoughts to what we’ve been dealing with:

1.  No one else has a centre in the region, they believe they are the first, although they are mainly working with children from the lake.  We are now the second in the West African sub-region.

2.  It took them over 18 months to obtain their land; they also experienced endless meetings, false promises and wild goose chases.

3.  Local traditions, culture, bureaucracy; they have experienced a lot in Ghana that we’ve experienced in Cote d’Ivoire (& are still experiencing!)

However, we no longer feel as if we’re scraping in the dark with a speck of light at the end of a long tunnel.  Their organisation is going from strength to strength; there are facets that we would like to introduce at C.R.E.E.R particularly their art therapy.

So, advocacy is all very well, but action is needed too.  We need more help to make our centre a reality & gain action from committed individuals to help fundraise!

CNN’s view on child trafficking in Cote d’Ivoire

What mustn’t be forgotten, although the last few posts have been about cocoa, don’t forget ‘M’ who inspired us to set up C.R.E.E.R to be a safe shelter to educate the children.

She was trafficked but worked in domestic servitude we believe.

As well as cocoa, there’s trafficking for domestic servitude, prostitution & many other areas that the children are trafficked for and become like bonded slaves. They’ve left home often believing they are going to start a new life and to gain an education.

The CNN Freedom Project: Ending Modern-Day Slavery

In “Chocolate’s Child Slaves,” CNN’s David McKenzie travels into the heart of the Ivory Coast to investigate children working in the cocoa fields. (More information and air times on CNN International.)

By David McKenzie and Brent Swails, CNN

Daloa, Ivory Coast (CNN) — Chocolate’s billion-dollar industry starts with workers like Abdul. He squats with a gang of a dozen harvesters on an Ivory Coast farm.

Abdul holds the yellow cocoa pod lengthwise and gives it two quick cracks, snapping it open to reveal milky white cocoa beans. He dumps the beans on a growing pile.

Abdul is 10 years old, a three-year veteran of the job.

He has never tasted chocolate.

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Why, where, what will C.R.E.E.R be?

CREER logo

C.R.E.E.R = Centre de Reinsertion et d’Education pour les Enfants de la Rue

(Centre of Reinsertion & Education for street children)

Cote d'Ivoire near the Ghana border

Why?

Some children are sold by their families for about US $60, believing that they will have a good life with an employer or promised that they will receive an education.

The families often need the money to manage the rest of the family.

Traffickers will sell these children onto farmers, domestic homes and brothels  offering children for US$200-US$250+.

Many of these children end up mentally and physically scarred from working  like bonded slaves; some will manage to runaway but live on the streets.

Why do families sell their children?

This video says it all, it’s why there are so many children coming from the Sahel belt; the Sahara encroaching on farmland; seeing it for yourself is startling, this video makes it all a bit more real

A farmer with dry land, how can he be expected to feed his family if the land isn’t sustainable?

It’s not just in Niger, but in Burkina Faso, Mali (where there’s more than just drought right now!)  and right across to Mauritania on the Atlantic coast where many West Africans are working for a pittance & slavery has only just been made illegal …

What makes it worse is when families such as these, share their food bowl with you; C.R.E.E.R’s founder has eaten with similar families.

So many are ‘forced’ to sell a child for US$60 or so, to pay for the rest of the family, buy necessary provisions or receive medical care.  The US$60 will go a long way for the family but the child who is sold will end up trafficked & working for others somewhere …

We all have to give back in abundance.  Our own way is to help the trafficked children in long-term rehabilitative care, providing an education to empower them out of this vicious cycle.

Read more here about the young girl’s legacy who gave the inspiration to create C.R.E.E.R http://wp.me/s3aqBS-17

Where?

C.R.E.E.R is to be a non-profit, non-political and non-religious centre in Abengourou, Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast).   We expect a mix of Christians & Muslims as well as local religions; those that want to follow their faith can do so locally and will be taken to their place of worship by our staff.  We aim to work with the children, to give them future hope and be able to lead a normal adult life, after being part of a family at the centre.

Map of CI

What will C.R.E.E.R be?

As the first such designated centre in West Africa our aim is to give long-term rehabilitation for trafficked children from all over region that are being brought over the border for farming, domestic servitude & prostitution.

We’ve already talked to the immigration authorities.  The Ivorian Authorities are keen to see us set up as there’s nowhere that solely caters for trafficked children.  They house those that they can intercept at the border, wherever they can find a bed.  Our aim is to repatriate those that have families that can take care of them & educate the children that cannot be repatriated.

The idea is to create the centre as soon as possible.  C.R.E.E.R has worked hard since conception in 2010 before the Ivorian crisis and was unfortunately let down already regarding land with false promises in early 2011.

We aim to be as self-sufficient as possible, enabling the children to learn about animal husbandry as well as renewable energy sources and their maintenance.

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1.  We have been promised 5-hectares of land just over the border from Ghana in Cote d’Ivoire’s 10th largest town, Abengourou.  We will build the centre with single sex dormitories and workshops but to also create a small holding that the children will manage with tutors.

a)  The centre will provide accommodation for about 30 children initially.
b)  All children will receive an education, maths, French and also potentially English as core components of other subjects.

image002

2.  On the land we want to build workshops, this will be the vocational part of the project so that all children will have a chance to leave with a skill.

We hope some will further their education too in tertiary establishments.   The workshops will consist of vocational skills such as sewing, mechanics, carpentry and cooking etc.

We have a wonderful manager who is now ready to work with us, he has already managed an orphanage for several years & dearly missed by the children there.   He has held a variety of important meetings for C.R.E.E.R with government ministers.

We totally trust him & believe he will drive things forward in the interests of trafficked children.

In the longer term we’re hoping to have other C.R.E.E.R centres in Africa, the next one being at the other end of this trafficking corridor, just inside Nigeria’s border.

If you’d like to help, please email us at : c.r.e.e.r.rci@gmail.com

Or join our group http://www.facebook.com/groups/c.r.e.e.r.rci/

Or page http://www.facebook.com/pages/CREER/160911540628718 on Facebook

We’re also on Twitter @CREER_RCI

Please help us to get the first building at the centre constructed

(Thanks to ThirdEyeMom for the video & Sahel update: http://thirdeyemom.com/2013/02/26/starving-in-sahel-its-time-to-care)