Teaching my kids about charity and philanthropy have always been as important as math and reading. We divide allowance into thirds, giving one to a favourite organization, and run countless lemonade stands for water well development.
Many parents are wakened on special occasions by an ominous clattering in the kitchen: loving-hearted children preparing to surprise us with coffee or hot chocolate in bed. There’s also that cinnamon toast or oatmeal positively doused with sugar.
What many parents don’t realize is that such meals usually come courtesy of a whole crew of children. Chocolate, coffee and sugar are often harvested by kids in developing countries. Some children are even trafficked – taken from their parents to be sold into slavery – onto plantations far from home. Others are forced into labour to help put food on the table at home.
Most Canadian parents struggle to keep costs down, yet our lower prices here are made possible by low pay overseas. Many children are forced to work for no pay, making our price tags even more appealing. Take cocoa for instance.
“An estimated 1.8 million children work to provide the world with its cocoa, in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana,” says World Vision Canada’s Cheryl Hotchkiss. Hotchkiss explains that child workers are often trafficked – kidnapped and sold – into labour. They work in brutally dangerous conditions, with sharp machetes and toxic chemicals. Many are physically abused so they’ll work harder. Few are given adequate food or rest.
It’s easier to snuggle down under our covers than admit we live in a world where child labour is still prevalent. But it’s also pretty simple to do something to help change things. Fair trade cocoa, coffee, tea and sugar are available in many grocery stories. While they cost more, the payoff is much greater than a mouthful of sweetness.
“We made it into a field trip,” says Toronto mom Debbie Wolfe, of her first fair trade shopping trip with her two sons. “We stood in the grocery aisle, read the labels, and talked about how we’d be helping a real child and his family.”
“We’ve never enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate so much.”
To learn more ways to help end child slavery, visit www.nochildforsale.ca
Disclosure: This post was made possible through efforts of World Vision Canada.
I remember as a little girl being excited for ‘The Nature of Things’ to come onto the TV. As the host, David Suzuki has been an environmental visionary for many years. The David Suzuki foundation began in 1990 with a mission ‘to protect the diversity of nature and our quality of life, now and for the future’.
One of the most exciting parts of the #30Greendays challenge with SC Johnson Green Choices is that by along with having me and my family participate in the challenge, they have also agreed to donate $10,000 to a charity of our choice on behalf of UrbanMommies and SavvyMom. Seeing my boys thrive in taking care of the planet and remembering my experience as a girl watching David Suzuki, we opted for the David Suzuki Foundation. With programs in climate change, creating livable communities, the establishment of environmental rights and justice, building community and helping citizens to connect with nature, this charity speaks to all of us in some way.
We are thrilled to be given the chance to support the Foundation, and also further the UrbanMommies mission to teach and nurture children through family activities. We have chosen to designate the funds to the youth education branch of the Foundation with the following mission:
“Connect with nature — assist Canadians, especially youth, to learn about their dependence on a healthy environment and the benefits of time in nature through outdoor education and opportunities.“
As part of the UrbanMommies commitment to the environment, we will do a regular feature on activities for the whole family that will benefit nature.