In the morning as that alarm clock blares I shoot out of bed like bullet with a sudden, mysteriously founded burst of energy, as I quite literally whack my alarm off and scramble to my morning routine. But that sudden burst of energy goes as quickly as it came and I know the only thing to get my now heavy feet moving again is a strong cup of coffee, which like magic turns me human again. So if your anything like me you cannot live without one of the worlds most traded commodities, but for me each sip comes with a secondary level of comfort in knowing that my ‘life’s water’ is slave and child labor free, as I drink nothing-less than fair trade coffee.
Child labor and slavery continues to plague the coffee industry, forcing children to often work to harvest what will soon become your cheap cup of joe you sip as you trudge through the day. Child labor in the agricultural industry consists of children being bought and sold as slaves or bonded laborers, as migrant or estate workers usually with their family. Many children work for commercial farms and plantations that produce our commodities and are estimated to be 7-12% of the work force. Besides coffee children are often found as labors in the harvest of cocoa, coconuts, cotton, fruit and vegetables, jasmine, palm oil, rubber, sisal, sugar cane, tea, tobacco, and vanilla.
A child picks coffee beans on the Kirimiri Coffee Farm in Kenya, Africa. (Photo: Robin Romano)
According to the ILO, over 132 million children, aged 5-14 years old, work in agriculture around the world, they are just a segment of an the estimated 246 million child laborers around the globe. UNICEF estimates that some 200,000 children are victims of trafficking each year in West and Central Africa alone, for the purpose of working in the supply chain for products such as; cocoa and coffee. Global March Against Child Labor estimates that one in every eight children from 5 to 17 years old, some 179 million, work in the worst forms of child labor. These children are placed in hazardous working conditions in order to ensure that we have our sweet treats, it is truly a bittersweet story.
Fair Trade is everyone’s issue, it is more than looking at the world through a lens of more organic and healthy food, it is more than a fair wage for farmers…Fair Trade is the way to a sustainable future for all of the worlds children. So join the fight for children across the globe, and join your global citizens for coffee with a cause and drink Fair Trade today!
Take the opportunity to learn about Fair Trade with your children and go on a few of the great sites out there that have games and resources for kids, such as Oxfam’s Cool Planet and Kidz @ Work . Please see my Fair Trade and Slave Free Links for more information.
Please also see previous posts on Child Trafficking, Child Labor and don’t forget to check out the following resource pages:
- Fair Trade and Slave Free Links
- Fair Trade Book List
- General Book List
- Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery Reports and Publications
- Human Trafficking and Slavery Related Movies and Documentaries
- Human Trafficking Conventions and Laws
- Slavery and Trafficking Related Books