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Do you know about the Dark Side of Chocolate? 2018-03-28 오후 11:18:00

Abdul is a worker in the cocoa fields of the Ivory Coast. He cuts the cocoa pods and takes the milky coated white beans out. He has done this for three year, and now nearly became a professional, but he never tasted chocolate. This is what is happening currently for many children in parts of Africa.

Chocolate is made from cacao beans, that grow mainly in areas of tropical climates such as Western Africa, Asia and Latin America. But the main source of chocolate is west and central Africa, as approximately 70% of the world's cocoa currently originates from those areas. A large number of international known chocolate brands and companies rely on the production on the cocoa made in west Africa, which is a popular place of child labor. Some global companies already promised their consumers to end the use of child labor as a source for their products. However, there are still a explosive number of children even younger than 15, working in cocoa farms in Africa.

Poverty is essentially the main reason of why children end up in cocoa farms. Their families usually suffer from extreme poverty and they sell their children for as little as $30, because they need the money, but also they don’t have the ability to feed their children. So at a young age, children get sold to child labor in order to save their family.

These children end up in chocolate farms in different ways but after a child enters the farm, they may not be able to meet their family for years, in some cases, forever.
The children are currently are known to be aged between 12- 16 years, but it is also said that reporters saw children of 5 too. And it is statistically said that 40% are girls.

The day begins at 6 for the children and they work until evening, their daily tools are chainsaws and long knives. They clear forests with these dangerous tools, climb cocoa trees to cut bean pods, and pack the pods into sacks that weigh more than 100 pounds when they get full. Then, they have to drag these sacks through the forests. The environment of the living area of the children is extremely unsanitized and is deprived of very basic necessities. They are provided with food that can be gained with the cheapest price as possible, such as corn paste and bananas. The place they sleep in are sometimes wooden planks or small buildings with absolutely no windows. They don’t even have access to purified water or clean bathrooms. Child labor on cocoa farms can lead to health deterioration and high risk of unsafety. Since the children carry around hazardous tools like how normal children carry around pencils and pens, they have a high risk of getting injured, meaning that the safety of the children isn’t guaranteed at all. Also, they are exposed to toxic chemicals. These conditions may lead to health complications like malnourishment. It may also end up with chronic diseases and lifetime health issues.

Some child workers, who have the full rights for education, do not have access to education. There is a high rate of children that are working in Ghana and the ivory Coast. 10% of child laborers in Ghana and 40% in the Ivory Coast do not attend school. Some of the children labor and go to school at the same time.
Child labor in these chocolate farms do not provide education to most children, because employed children don’t have the leisure to run back and forth to school. So, eventually, years of their childhood fly by, deprived of any education. And this lack of education leads to illiteracy, which is the one of the major consequences of children gone through child labor. When they are illiterate and aren’t educated, the children of the cocoa farms have merely any hope of breaking the cycle of poverty. Most children, come to cocoa farms in order to help their family in poverty. In short term, they may be able to help their family to fend off poverty to some extent. However, in long term, poverty will keep on waiting since the children didn’t have the chance to get educated, and thus they have limited opportunities to get employed. Consequently, they are better off of failing in life and will probably not contribute in breaking the poverty cycle.

Child labor is legally wrong, but it also goes against moral values. Childhood is a time when children can find their talents, develop dreams, and begin to pursue their dreams. Child labor is what cuts out the bright future of children and replace it with a darkened years. And the chocolates that we eat everyday are no more than bitter sweets that are the products of these endless cycles of child exploitation.

Seoul International School
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