Sonja Mingay, school chaplain at St Thomas More’s Primary School in Canberra, hopes the story of slavery-free chocolate will be remembered long after Easter. Source: ACRATH.
Ms Mingay worked with the school community and Mini Vinnies program last year and during term one this year to understand the importance of buying ethically-sourced chocolate and the impact it can have on children in developing countries, particularly in West Africa.
Ms Mingay used school newsletters to educate families about cocoa farms in West Africa. “A report on child labour in West African cocoa growing areas, estimated that in 2013–14 the industry used more than two million child labourers. It was common for children to be trafficked into cocoa bean farms and subjected to unfair and exploitative treatment,” Ms Mingay said.
Families were asked to donate slavery-free chocolate that would be used in a school raffle, drawn before Easter. They were asked to donate chocolate that featured the symbols of FAIRTRADE, UTZ or Rainforest Alliance, as these symbols ensure the cocoa beans used were not picked by enslaved children. The whole school embraced the raffle and there were five baskets of chocolates by the time the raffle was drawn at the school’s final assembly before Easter.
“The aim of the Ethical Easter Egg Raffle is to raise awareness of the global social justice issue of child labour and slavery in the chocolate industry, particularly in West Africa where the majority of the world’s cocoa production occurs," Ms Mingay said.
Importantly, the students themselves told the story in a unique way, of how cocoa beans are picked by children. Through a performance, they showed their classmates what life could be like in West Africa for a child their age, who had to pick cocoa beans and who might never get to go to school.
Ms Mingay said many families had purchased slavery-free chocolate, others reported difficulty finding it.
“Hopefully, more people become aware of this global social justice issue and decide to buy only slavery-free chocolate. Then companies and stores will get the message that ethical considerations are highly important to consumers.”