A Kuapa Kokoo Kids Camp workshop in Ghana

30 March 2010

Report from Tom Allen, Projects and Policy Manager, Trading Visions.

Children from Kuapa Kokoo schools at Kids Camp

Trading Visions and Kuapa Kokoo have collaborated on an educational project with young people from several schools in cocoa farming communities in Ghana for the last six years. This has taken place through ongoing interaction with their schools and through regular “Kids Camps”.

The “Kids Camps” are big gatherings of children from different schools, many of them leaving their villages for the first time. They learn about useful everyday issues like nutrition, health and girls’ education, as well as bigger picture concerns like Fairtrade and the chocolate supply chain. At the last Kids Camp, we focused on child labour, with around 70 young teenagers taking part in a facilitated discussion on the subject. The facilitators began with legal rights, distinguishing between unacceptable “child labour” and acceptable “child work”, then took care to listen to and respond to the children’s concerns.

Kuapa kids get creative

The children challenged the idea that they or anyone else was in a position to dictate their rights to their own parents. They queried the clear cut criteria of everyone under the age of 18 being prohibited from using machetes or being involved with spraying chemicals, which are used to protect the notoriously delicate cocoa trees from pests and disease. One child stood up and said: “It is normal for us to use the cutlass.” Everyone seemed to agree tacitly that the 18-years-old cut off point for using the cutlass was fairly impractical. There was a very productive discussion about how the children might go about “educating their parents about fertiliser and fungicide chemicals.

The context of a child-focused Kids Camp at which the children were encouraged to speak out, after months or even years of work building up their capacity and confidence, meant that the facilitators responded to them as real social individuals, negotiating actively with their parents and peers as best they could. This suggests a more subtle reading of children’s rights that respects what the children themselves actually think, might be a productive approach to tackling child labour issues in cocoa farming.

For the full version of this post, and three further posts on the issue of children and chocolate from different perspectives visit the Trading Visions website.

Write your own Divine Literary Quote

25 March 2010

‘Thoughts are divine’ from Orlando by Virginia Woolf

‘I’ve no ammunition. What use are cartridges in battle? I always carry chocolate instead.’ from Arms and the Man by George Bernard Shaw

“‘Darling,’ she said. ‘How too divine” from Vile bodies by Evelyn Waugh

This Easter, Penguin Classics and Divine have got together to celebrate all that’s Divine and chocolaty in classic literature. Check out our large milk and dark chocolate eggs for a competition to win chocolate and Penguin books.

Come up with your own Divine quote in the style of your favourite  literature classic and we’ll send our favourite a selection of Divine chocolate! Post your idea in the comments below.

Whats your Sport Relief challenge?

16 March 2010

We have the perfect prize for all of those who are rising to the challenge and doing the Sport Relief Mile! Dubble’s Fairtrade milk chocolate gold medals are available exclusively at Sainsbury’s and cost £1.00. 10% donation from every purchase will go to Sport Relief.

Comment below and let us know what you are doing to raise money for Sport Relief and we’ll award the most creative idea with a Divine chocolate selection!

A Divine Fortnight finale in London

9 March 2010

Emil Sands receiving his award from Comfort and Kojo

A very early start on Friday – heading up to Hampstead to visit University College School – for a special reason.  We were there to hand over the prize for the winning poem in this year’s Divine Poetry Competition.  The winner Emil Sands (age 11) had a vague notion something might happen but his classmates were blissfully ignorant – and amazed to find two cocoa farmers and a load of chocolate in their form room as they arrived!  Emil read his poem aloud – the farmers thought it was amazing – and we answered lots of questions about how cocoa grows and all the reasons to choose Divine and Dubble.  We also handed over some Dubble Gold Sport Relief chocolate medals – as they had lots of Sport Relief events planned.  A great start to the day.

It got better – we popped into Body Shop Hampstead – and I introduced the farmers (Kuapa Kokoo supplies all the cocoa butter that goes into Body Shop products). The girls there knew all about Kuapa and were absolutely thrilled, and showered the farmers with gifts to take home to their families.

Then on to Premier Christian Radio for an interview with Bridgitte Tetteh.  That was great fun – lots of laughing – and Kojo and Comfort broke into song. They included an item on their regular news bulletin about the farmers all day and still to broadcast the full interview – will add a link when they do.

Comfort and Kojo 'fly' on the Eye

On Saturday morning – a trip on the London Eye which was a really big hit!! (Note to self – must go up on it myself sometime!!). Then on to Chiswick (my home town) and sampling all afternoon at As Nature Intended and Eco-Age. Supper at Nando’s (Peri peri chicken wings) and on to St Michael’s and All Angels where Chiswick Churches for Justice and Peace had organised a Ghanaian spectacular – to celebrate both Fairtrade Fortnight and Ghana Independence Day.  There was an exhibition of Ghanaian artifacts and history + work by Ghanaian artists.  A full house, Ghanaian music, a great presentation by Kojo and Comfort – and a real revelation moment when the audience realised that Divine is not only Fairtrade – but also 45% owned by Kuapa Kokoo. A real reason to choose Divine – and to keep campaigning for a fairer deal for farmers.

Introducing the Fairtrade concert at the Barbican

On Sunday it was a concert at the Barbican – as part of the Do Something Different weekend. The whole place was heaving with children doing artwork and taking part in all sorts of projects.  Young people from City youth groups had worked really hard on their own compositions inspired by Fairtrade and they performed them beautifully. I was really moved and so were Comfort and Kojo – who said how pleased it made them to see young people caring about Fairtrade.  All their families came along and they were so proud.  A fantastic collaboration by Corporation of London, Guildhall School of Music and Drama and Barbican. Thank you to everyone who came along. It was really special.

The team behind the Barbican Fairtrade concert

Reverend George Bush from the City of London Fairtrade steering group


Fairtrade touring in the Channel Islands

8 March 2010

I remember back in October discussing the idea of visiting the Channel Islands for Fairtrade Fortnight. Images of us in the freezing cold sleet, wind and rain did not seem appealing but the Fairtrade steering group on both Jersey and Guernsey offered such a great range of events we just couldn’t say no.

And you know what, it didn’t rain once! In fact it was so sunny and glorious it was like being on holiday. The Islands Fairtrade Groups had organised everything perfectly including the weather.

Wendy, Comfort, Kojo and I set off on Monday 1st for 3 jammed packed days of school visits, business meetings, Ghanaian dinners, store visits, and chocolate and wine evenings. We also talked to BBC Jersey Radio, the Jersey Evening Post and the Guernsey Press. You name it and we did it!

The highlights for me were

–         watching hundreds of wide eyed children as Kojo described snakes and creepy crawlies on cocoa farms at school assemblies

–         Listening to Kojo speak so beautifully about his life as a farmer when talking to the journalist from the Jersey Evening Post newspaper

–         Smiling with pride at Comforts speech to the Jersey College for Girls where she stated proudly ‘One of you could someday be President of the United Kingdom’

–         Chomping my way through a specially made Divine chocolate cheesecake at Pelican’s Bistro on the last evening in Guernsey

We had such a wonderful time, a big big thank you to Tony, Maggie, Ed, Joy from Jersey and Steve, Nicky, Ann and Phil from Guernsey.

On Divine tour with David

4 March 2010

On the road for Fairtrade Fortnight.

David and his magic truffles

Down to Exeter to wow everyone at 3663 with a truffle making demonstration.  I arrived at 8am and while setting up for the tea flavoured chocolate truffle demonstration used the opportunity to chat with some of the hundreds of 3663 customers from all sectors of the hospitality industry in the south west. Half way through the day I made truffles using cafédirect earl gray tea and Divine 70% dark chocolate. Judging from the response the audience enjoyed them and a good number asked for the recipe.

4pm off to Loughborough and the Dog House meeting room where I met the lovely people of Charnwood. Charnwood was awarded Fairtrade Borough status by the Fairtrade Foundation in March 2006 and was the first borough in the East Midlands to gain this prestigious status.

Comfort tells her story at Charnwood

When I arrived the meeting was in full flow with Kuapa farmers Comfort, Kojo and Rosanna from Divine answering lots of interesting questions; I arrived just in time for a few choccy-related ones.  At the close of the meeting Ghanaian music was played and both farmers put the reserved English to shame as they danced the night away.

Queen Eleanor School

Friday in Stamford – Queen Eleanor School – and a full day of students from several schools listening to the farmers’ stories and learning how choosing Divine can change the lives ot cocoa farmers in Ghana. During the day students and staff were taught how to taste chocolate lie a connoisseur and make Divine chocolate ganache. BBC East Midlands Today came to film the event and find out what the students learned.

Friday afternoon and off to Stamford town centre to open a new Fairtrade shop ‘Green Circle’ on St Mary’s Hill and meet with the owner Simon Tee who stocks the best chocolate – Divine of course.

Saturday morning: 15 local business owners met with the Divine team for a breakfast meeting at Lady Anne’s Hotel entitled “Why Fairtrade is good for business”. I explained why doing the right thing can improve the balance sheet and delegates had the chance to question Comfort and Kojo about what impact owning a chocolate company has on their day to day lives? And of course a little education on how to taste chocolate the meeting finished with some delegates making a commitment to swap to Fairtrade. Then some shopping time for the farmers while I go into chocolatier mode.
Next stop a truffle making workshop at Barn Hill Methodist Church centre
Rutland radio 107.2 97.4 FM presenter Rob Persani, joined us to record his Friday challenge along with 64 eager chocoholics who hung on every word of why Divine is different and how to taste chocolate like a connoisseur.  They got to go away with truffles they’d made themselves. The whole event was covered by Channel Lincolnshire for future broadcast.

Saturday night was free time for the farmers and along with around 150 others we  attended a Haiti fund raiser with the Wakefield Community Gospel Choir singing joyful songs.  A very colourful exhibition Haitian art and Haitian food a great night was had by all.

Barn Hill Methodist Church

The next day we attended Sunday service where another full house was awaiting the farmers. The children performed a puppet show called It’s not fair! and highlighted the issues around trade justice and how Kuapa Kokoo and  Divine are making a difference to cocoa farmers in Ghana.
Andy Fyall, the minster went on to explain to adults trade justice using the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard  from Mattews gospel  20:1-16