An educational day in Kingston

Jeanette and Doug James, the engine at the heart of Kingston’s energetic Fairtrade movement, organised a brilliant programme for cocoa farmers in collaboration with two local schools and Kingston University.

First stop was St Joseph’s Catholic School where a rather special Assembly had been planned.  James and Anane were impressed to see the facilities available to young children in schools here. James used to be a teacher, before taking up cocoa farming full time  and so had a particular interest in how children are taught here.

James and Anane split their presentation to the hall full of young children – telling them all about how cocoa is grown and how the Fairtrade deal makes a difference to their lives. Sara (aka Head of Dubble HQ) had devised a brilliant game of  “Papapaa Bingo” – giving all the children a table of images for them to spot in a film about cocoa farming. They had to watch the film and mark each off the items (a dog, a cocoa pod, a red t-shirt etc) as they saw them. It was a huge success.

Lots of questions after – including “Why do you speak differently?” and “How did you get here?” – and then the promise of a Dubble bar at home-time – with a whole new understanding of where that chocolate had come from.

Anane and James with our host Jess at The Rose

Anane and James with our host Jess at The Rose

Then lunch – hosted by the very kind Jess at The Rose Theatre in Kingston.  The Rose sells Fairtrade coffee, tea, wine and of course Divine. A very nice place to chill for an hour.

Then on to Christchurch School in Berrylands – where two assemblies were organised.  The story of cocoa had the children transfixed.  Particularly the news that farmers had to be very careful or they could be killed by snakes or scorpions.  Chocolate is a dangerous treat to make!!

Having sent over 500 children home buzzing with their new found knowledge and tales of real cocoa farmers, we drive on to Kingston University where Fairtrade co-ordinator Hannah had laid on an evening event for a diverse audience of geography, international development and sustainable development students and tutors.  It being Shrove Tuesday we were offered a fantastic spread of filled pancakes – spinach, followed by melted chocolate and banana filled wraps.

Anane and James at Kingston University

Anane and James at Kingston University

Not surprisingly our presentation here was followed by over an hour of questions and answers – talking about free vs fair trade, the potential for other farmers to form themselves into a similar kind of cooperative, how much the Ghanaian government was doing to support farming and agriculture in the country, and why it was still only 10% of Kuapa’s cocoa being sold on Fairtrade terms….

While he was there, James picked up the Kingston University prospectus to take home for his son who would like to continue his business studies. Posted by Charlotte

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