Father of a Fair Traider
George M. Janes, New York, New York
As a part of the curriculum at my son's former elementary school, the first grade students participated in an in depth study of chocolate.
His teacher, Paula Rogovin, used the curriculum to focus on where cacao was grown and how it was harvested. The first graders learned that in parts of the world like Cote d'Ivoire, some children didn't get to go to school but are forced to pick the cocoa used to make chocolate. The students learned they could do something to help those other children; they could look for fair trade chocolate. Fair trade chocolate uses cacao picked by adults who are paid a fair price for their work and so they can afford to send their children to school. To share what they learned about fair trade, the class put on a play about fair trade chocolate and started a fair trade bake sale. At the bake sale, they sold all kinds of fair food (especially chocolate) to everyone in the neighborhood. The students raised $2,000 which they donated to international labor organizations.
In just this one project, the children transformed themselves from observers to actors working to affect change. The world of children is small. Children don't know anything about economic or geo-politics. They have their family, their friends, their school and religious institutions and they've spent their lives learning the difference between right and wrong. They know what's fair and what's not. We can teach them to think beyond the boundaries of their everyday lives and when they do, they are our most compassionate ambassadors of fairness and justice.