To the editor:
It is incredibly sad that much of the cocoa produced from the beans harvested by poor child slaves in Africa will end up being used in the production of something that most people in North America associate with happiness and pleasure, and that is chocolate.
A UNICEF study reports that 200,000 children between the ages nine to 12 are trafficked yearly in West and Central Africa for the sole purposes of harvesting cocoa beans. These children are forced to work on the cocoa farms of the Ivory Coast for 12 to 14 hours a day in absolutely deplorable conditions. Some of these children are tortured if they are unable to keep up with the physical demands of the job.
The connection serves to illustrate that the existence of misery in one part of the world and joy in another part are no longer divorced as nations are connected in a globalized web of trade. The problem of child slavery then, is not simply a faraway abstraction with no immediate implications for anybody else except those who are directly affected, but rather it is an issue that everybody around the world should be concerned about and demand action to eradicate. (Adapted from The Earth Charter.)
Here in Canada, the chocolate industry contributes to the problem; last year nearly $47 million worth of cocoa products came to our country.
Check out the full-length documentary at: http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/dark-side-chocolate/. Or read Bitter Chocolate, a book written by Carol Off. It is available in the local library.
Buy, eat and share ‘fair trade’ chocolate. For Kelowna folks, I have been told me that we can find this at the Ten Thousand Villages shop, located in Burtch Plaza.
We are indeed, as the Earth Charter affirms “…one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny…We are, in the way that we are able, declaring our responsibility to one another, to the greater community of life, and to future generations.”