Same Moment in Time, Two Different Worlds

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Standing impatiently, I look back and forth at the wall of items in front of me, questioning which to buy. This week on the list is coffee, tea, bread, sugar, cocoa (for the homemade cookies I promised to make for work), and of course the inevitable what to have for dinner. Keeping an eye on the time—I only have a half an hour to get the things we need and get back home to let the dog out. Pacing up and down the aisles, I’m unable to keep my focus, still thinking about the paper due today while my stomach growls. Back to why I am here, where is the cocoa? I only purchase it once or twice a year, and each time it seems to be in a different place. Finally, there it is in the same aisle as the sugar. I quickly scan each label for the Fair Trade icon, and then check the price. I start to bite my lower lip, worrying about money. Each of these items cost $1 more. I promised that I would help save money after the pay cut; but this, this is different. I swiftly throw the cocoa and sugar into my basket, and move on to the next item on the list–coffee. I repeat the same task, looking for the Fair Trade icon on both the coffee and tea, at the same time searching for my favorite caffeine-loaded fruity green tea to keep me awake to finish my paper. I grab two boxes just in case. I then find the bread, some random items for dinner, and rush to the self-checkout.

At the same time I perform a mundane, routine task—grocery shopping—children like Abdul or Miguel work to produce the very items I purchase. Abdul, a 10-year-old child works at a cocoa farm in Ivory Coast, West Africa. His clothes are old, dirty, and torn. He earns no wages for a hard days work. Miguel, beaten and naked is found in a hole. Scars on his back and a bloody cut over his eye, he utters no words. He was a slave likely sold to work in the sugar plantations in Haiti. Neither of these children, or the millions of others, are heard or seen. They are a “hidden population.”

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