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Reverse trick-or-treating exposes cocoa woes

The Payson Center for International Development at Tulane University released a study as part of a contract with the U.S. Department of Labor to oversee public and private efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor in the cocoa sector in Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana. The report confirmed that hundreds of thousands of children across these two West African nations continue to work on cocoa farms, even though the industry claimed it followed through on promises to consumers, human rights advocates and Congress to make cocoa free of child labor.

Interpol announced last year, that it identified and rescued 54 children from slavery in cocoa fields in Cote d'Ivoire, some as young as 11 years old. These child workers had endured hazardous working conditions, labored 12 hours a day and were not paid for their work.

Anderson said as a member of the fair trade community, she feels compelled to spread awareness. So far, she's presented the Reverse Trick-or-Treating initiative to about 700 or 800 students around the Ballston Spa school district.

"We're hoping other schools will see this as an interesting way to motivate kids to get involved in awareness and realize kids across the world don't have the same lifestyles and rights that we have here," said Anderson.

With national and local organizations from around the U.S. participating in Reverse Trick-or-Treating, Global Exchange has already seen kids responding well to the issues they're spreading awareness about, even in the four short years it's been around. About a quarter million chocolates and cards have been distributed so far.

"Kids have a well-developed sense of fairness. I regularly hear stories of U.S. schoolchildren who are really outraged to learn that mainstream chocolate companies are making them complicit in the enslavement of their peers," said Adrienne Fitch-Frankel, director of Global Exchange's Fair Trade Campaign in a statement. "Kids are eager to show solidarity and make it possible for their peers to go to school and go out and play. That is why so many kids are thrilled to participate in Reverse Trick-or-Treating and make a difference. Now, it's up to the chocolate companies to listen to their important message."

Kits can be ordered online at reversetrickortreating.org and those who miss the Oct. 8 deadline can call Mango Tree Imports at 288-3554 and inquire about securing a kit that way.

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