In the last year, as my love for Jack has deepened, I have also grown in compassion for other children. While poverty made me sad before, it now breaks my heart. The suffering millions are experiencing in Haiti right now is overwhelming, but the pain I feel for the parents who lost their children and for children who lost their parent(s) breaks me.
This past year I have also become more and more aware of the reality of slavery in this world. Children are kidnapped and forced into labor, military, and, most disgusting of all, sex slavery all around the world. It is estimated that there are more than twenty seven million people enslaved today – more than any other point in history. When I start reading the facts on websites like www.notforsalecampaign.org and www.iempathize.org I am ready to vomit.
And so often I have wondered, what can I do?!
Recently it has come to my attention that both coffee and chocolate are largely produced by slaves from the Ivory Coast. The details of the child slavery as written in this article are shocking. Legislation has been passed and many chocolate companies, such as Hershey and Mars, are working to end that, but I suspect this will take a very very long time. The article I linked to above stated that there are many chocolate companies whose cocoa is not produced by slave labor including Green and Black’s which I know Target sells (their website has a coupon for their Peanut Bar – sounds delicious!).
Beyond the problem of slave labor is the also serious injustice of sweatshops and “unfair trade” (is that a thing? the opposite of fair trade, that’s what I’m trying to say). Cheap labor in other countries results in dire poverty for the masses. Poverty like that in Port au Prince. Every day I am becoming more and more aware that a low price for me comes at a cost to someone. I don’t know enough about fair trade right now, but it is something I want to learn about and invest in. Does that mean no more shopping at Target for a good deal? I don’t know right now, but I am seeking answers.
The truth is that so much of the stuff I feel I have to have, I don’t. This consumeristic mentality I am wrapped up in (more, newer, bigger, better – I want it!) not only distracts me from the One I am truly yearning for, but it hurts so many people who carry His Image.
One thing I do know, I can stop supporting slavery by buying different chocolate. It feels very small to change my chocolate eating habits, but for the sake of the children on the Ivory Coast – and as a stance against slavery everywhere – I will.
God help us.