What a day in Croydon!

26 February 2009
Divine, Kuapa Kokoo and the Co-op enjoying Croydon!

Divine, Kuapa Kokoo and the Co-op enjoying Croydon!

We had a fantastic day in Croydon being looked after by the Croydon Fairtrade Network and Croydon Council.  Anane and James were up early in the morning to catch the train from London Bridge. We were met by the wonderfully organised Chris Hunt dressed in a rather fetching traditional Ghanaian outfit and we were whisked over to the Croydon College for the first event.
 
Kuapa Kokoo farmers meet the Body Shop for a hand massage

Kuapa Kokoo farmers meet the Body Shop for a hand massage

Deborah Clement at Croydon Council organised a business breakfast with an audience of 30 local businesses from the Envibe database, an organisation set up by the council dedicated to making positive ethical change to businesses in Croydon.

The Body Shop talked first about how their cocoa butter products have been using Kuapa Kokoo butter for over 15 years through their community trade scheme. The farmers were delighted to receive a hand massage from one of the Body Shop consultants after the talk.

Divine spoke next and introduced both farmers who gave an interesting talk about growing cocoa and how Fairtrade had impacted their lives. They made a passionate plea to the businesses to continue supporting and buying Divine chocolate and the Body Shop cocoa butter. In the audience was the Minister of Trade from the Ghana Commission, George Fynn, who was delighted to hear the farmers’ story.

Anane and James with George Fynn

Anane and James with George Fynn

After the event we had a nice cup of Fairtrade tea and some Traidcraft biscuits whilst speaking to a few local activist supporters. Then we attended a lecture with some A Level Business Study students at the Croydon College. They were a noisy bunch but as soon as the farmers started talking you could hear a pin drop! And there’s nothing like free chocolate to get students excited!

Following the college we visited the Trinity School and gave two workshops to over 200 boys. We played the fantastic Pa pa pa Bingo game with the 13-15 year olds and hearing them all shout out ‘Pa pa pa!’ at the end made us all smile!

Dinner followed the school and we were guests of the Ghanaian restaurant Gold Coast in West Croydon. The lovely chef James took good care of us and the farmers were pleased to meet some members of the Ghanaian community including a gorgeous bubbly lady called Love. We dined on Jollof Rice, Yams, Fu fu and chicken curry. The farmers felt home-from- home and the Divine staff loved trying lots of new flavours!

James presents the Croydon Mayor with a thank you box of Divine chocolates

James presents the Croydon Mayor with a thank you box of Divine chocolates

After the restaurant we visited the Town Hall and met Robert Askey, Croydon Mayor to thank him for his support with Fairtrade. James made a wonderful presentation of two boxes of chocolate to the Mayor which was very moving. Croydon was the first London borough to announce Fairtrade status and have a tireless bunch of Fairtrade campaigners who continue to do fantastic work.

To finish the day, we visited a Ghanaian church called the Bible Life Ministries Church. We received such a warm welcome from the Ghanaian community and both the Divine staff and farmers had a memorable evening. At one point a Ghanaian hymn was sung which the farmers knew. The congregation and the farmers stood up and started dancing and singing at the front. It was such a wonderful moment of the farmers and UK Ghanaians joined together in celebration of Fairtrade. It was very emotional to be a part of it.

When we finally dragged the farmers away from the church, we all drove back with Matt from the Co-op and even managed to squeeze in a quick drive by tour of London including House of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, St Pauls Cathedral, Tower of London, and Tower Bridge.  Matt gave a running history of London and was a great tour guide. It was the perfect end to a perfect day.

Divine Chocolate and the farmers would like to say a special thank you to Chris Hunt, Rosa Shea, Caroline Pattison, Diana Battaglia, William Quagraine, Deborah Clement, Matt Hale and everyone for making our tour to Croydon so fantastic. Posted by Laura Blake


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