Can you help Sara raise money for a Kuapa Kokoo kids camp

15 May 2013

Sara isn’t just cycling 180 miles with MITIE Revolution for fun – she’s also aiming to raise money for the next Kuapa Kokoo kids camp. Here’s a post about how you could help…

I’m fundraising for a Kuapa Kids Camp, being held from 11th-13th July 2013 in Kumasi, Ghana.

Taking part in a Kuapa Kokoo kids camp

Taking part in a Kuapa Kokoo kids camp

The Kuapa Kids Camps are residential camps for young people from rural cocoa growing areas organised by Trading Visions in collaboration with Kuapa Kokoo.  Trading Visions is an educational charity set up by Divine to amplify the voice of cocoa farmers in West Africa, and particularly to link young people in Ghana with their contemporaries here to learn more about issues at either end of the supply chain.

The Kids Camps are brilliant for boosting the confidence and educational attainment of the students. They also help to energise their schools by increasing the active participation of teachers, parents and the local community in the schools.

Getting stuck into a Kids Camp project

Getting stuck into a Kids Camp project

We also use the Kids Camps to work with the children in Ghana to help create educational materials on Fairtrade chocolate for young people in the UK.

At the next Kuapa Kids Camp, around 70 children from rural cocoa growing families will be coming together for three days, many of them leaving their villages and mixing with children from other schools for the first time.

They learn about Fairtrade and their role in the global chocolate supply chain, and issues such as nutrition, child labour, health, and girls’ education.

The Kids Camp cost will be £7,000. The Hull Fairtrade City Project has pledged £2,000 to help fund it, plus another £1,500 of match funding for any money we raise.

Please help by donating to this important education project for children living in rural farming villages in Ghana.  Click here for my fundraising page.

Thank you!

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.

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.

Tom Palmer’s Ghana diary

4 August 2009

Here at the Divine offices, we are really excited to be having a read of Tom Palmer’s diary.

The children’s author has been on a trip of a lifetime to Ghana researching for his new book, Off Side. Tom’s books are all about football – but his Football Detective series is also about social issues that impact on children – and his latest is no exception. Off Side will be partly about chocolate, partly about the allure of the world of football, plus a strong message about Fairtrade!

When Tom’s wife contacted Divine, we thought it sounded like a great theme and were really happy to help. Charlotte put him in touch with Kuapa Kokoo, who organised a special trip to a school and cocoa farm in Akomadan village.

His previous works include Foul Play and Football Academy, and his latest book, Dead Ball, will be launching this week – a perfect holiday read for bored teens!

This is Tom’s fantastic diary of his travels and the people he met in Accra, Kumasi and Akomadan cocoa farming village. We hope you enjoy reading about his adventures in Ghana as much as we have!

Tom Palmer’s diary

polaroid_tom_school_dubbleFriday 17 July, 4pm

I am above the Sahara Desert on my way to Ghana, travelling there to research a novel for children. Off Side will be about football, people trafficking and fair trade chocolate. The Sahara goes on for hours, even in a plane. Hours of sand and heat and nothingness.
In 1998 I walked through the Sahara. Some of it, anyway. I was doing a charity walk for Macmillan Cancer Support. Raising money for the charity that had helped look after my parents when they were dying. I met my wife on that walk. And my wife is behind me being out here again. On this plane.

To give you more detail about the book I’m writing… Off Side is about a Ghanaian boy who dreams of being a footballer at one of Europe’s top clubs. But he is cheated by an unscrupulous football agent and finds himself in England with no place at a football club and no way of getting home. But, because of my wife, the book is going to be about more than that.

We were sat in a cafe. The Bear, a fair trade cafe in Todmorden, West Yorkshire. My wife was reading the wrapper of a Divine bar that we were scoffing. ‘Your book is about the unfair trade in wannabe footballers,’ she said. ‘Why don’t you talk to Divine too? About fair trade chocolate? That would make the story even better.’ So she called Divine and they kindly invited me to go to see them.

Read his complete diary here .


Find out more about Tom and his work on his website.

Jamila spends a week with Divine

10 July 2009
Jamila Hamze working with Divine

Jamila Hamze working with Divine

Before I came to do my work experience at Divine, I wasn’t aware that their main aim was to improve the livelihoods of smallscale cocoa farmers. For me, Divine Chocolate was just the 50p tasty chocolate bars sold in the school vending machines. But now I’ve met and worked with all you hard-working people. I realised that each of your jobs are unique and that you are all needed for Divine to succeed and run smoothly. I’ve completely enjoyed my work here from packing up chocolate to managing telephone calls. And even though I was nervous, and sounded glum at first (as Natasha said) I still enjoyed it because it was new and a bit of a challenge for me.

I’ve learnt so much about fair-trade, recognising the symbol and understanding its meaning. At school (St Marylebone C of E School), I don’t think that students are aware about Divine being fair-trade and its impact on the producers in developing countries. It would be great if everyone was aware of the need for Fair-trade and the importance of the FAIRTRADE Mark. Knowing that Divine is Fairtrade is great. To be honest it never occurred to me that chocolate, a product most people take for granted, could make such a difference. I think if everyone knew the amount of effort Kuapa Kokoo farmers put in, and the amount of effort staff at Divine Chocolate put in then people would realise how truly amazing Divine is. I also had the chance to cut out LOADS of press columns for Rosanna and was able to read so many great views on Divine.

During my first week, I watched some videos made in Ghana. Some made me laugh and some made me want to cry but it was great listening to their hopes and dreams, and inspiring to know that most of them wanted to be doctors and help others. One boy said he only wanted to marry a beautiful wife and have 10 kids! Their enthusiasm for their dreams of creating something new and imperishable was clearly shown as they spoke so animatedly and passionately. I surprisingly did enjoy tidying up the room downstairs for Tom because I had a chance to think as well as have a look at all the amazing products. If only my mum was there to see the result because then she might stop nagging at me to tidy up my room!

On day 4, I was typing up brainstorm notes for Charlotte, and I thoroughly benefited from reading the ideas. One point that stood out for me was “I wish that chocolate wasn’t thoughtless,” and it made me realise that people DO just go into supermarkets and buy what they feel like and not on what should be educated about the truth behind other brands.

I’m always on the lookout for fairtrade products now and I have made sure that my family are aware of it. It has all been such an amazing experience. I feel I’ve grown more confidence in certain areas and I’ve learnt so many things. I wish all the best for Divine Chocolate and will continue to tell people about all the ethical work that is done.

Jamila Hamze

Talking to teens at Harris Academy

29 June 2009

Just returned from Harris Academy South Norwood – Business and Enterprise. Amazing new building only opened 2 years ago, state of the art, latest technology, white boards in every room. I did a Divine presentation to the whole of year 8 and select group of year 10  – about 250 people crammed into a hall. They were a high spirited group.  I used the introduction to the Pa pa paa – Dubble Take DVD. It really got their attention, so realise firsthand how well it must work as a teaching resource – even with easily distracted crowd. It gave them a real impression of how hard and hot it is farming cocoa in Ghana.

Got some lovely feedback “I did enjoy it, I want to go to Ghana to see what actually happens” “I learnt a lot about chocolate, and how it is made” “Sir, why don’t all businesses sell Fair Trade things?”

Here’s hoping some of them sign up as Dubble Agents at and change the world chunk by chunk.

posted by Sophi