Sixth-grade students from PS 34 in New York City tell readers about a class campaign for fair trade.
By KIARA ANNDELORES KENNEDY
When I was in fifth grade we read articles about child labor. In some countries, like Brazil, children ages five to 14 were getting hurt using dangerous tools to cut down sugar cane, and falling when they climbed trees to get cocoa beans (used to make chocolate). They were working too hard and getting paid wages as low as 50 cents per day.
Companies would use children who came from poor families and who needed the money. The children were often taken out of school and didn’t know how to count. They thought they were making a lot of money.
I’ll explain to you some of the things we did to try to help make people aware.
First, we wrote letters to the World’s Finest Chocolate Company (one of the biggest companies that produces chocolate and chocolate products) to ask them to change five percent of their cocoa purchases to fair trade. They wrote us back and told us they could not do this. This did not stop us. We had a petition signing to get fair trade chocolate into our local supermarket. They now sell fair trade chocolate.
Next, we made public service announcements (PSAs) informing people about this issue. We then made signs and protested in front of M&M’S World in Times Square, New York City.
I hope you take this very seriously and want to learn more. Together we can help raise awareness and soon make a difference.
“We made petitions and went around the neighborhood to get them signed, asking C-Town grocery store to get fair trade chocolate in their stores. When we finished we had 562 signatures! That was one of my favorite parts of the project. Once we showed our petitions to the manager he was delighted to put fair trade chocolate in his store. Even though we are kids, we can do anything if we set our minds to it.”
FAIR TRADE: an agreement to trade goods in a way that does not use child labor, take advantage of workers or hurt the environment.