Can you? Can I? I don’t know about you, but I am an optimist and I say yes. And it is not just a blind belief. It is the fact that I have, in a small way, or in many small ways, changed it. How, you ask? Well, small steps. Changing some lifestyle habits, talking to people about it. Writing about it here, now.

So what and am I doing so far? I can change someone’s world by buying fair traded foods such as cocoa, sugar and coffee. Here I am raising a big question: do we have to give something up to make the world a better place for one person at least? That could be a deterrent some would say. In the age of instant gratification and gratification in general, inviting someone to do a good deed and not only not expect something in return but also give something up in the process, now that’s rather bold. Yet that’s the essence of it. That’s when it becomes real. Changing the world involves giving something up and that’s not a bad thing. It’s just as it should be. It makes us appreciate life more. It makes us become better people, it really does.

Here’s an example: Most people love chocolate or other edibles made with cocoa, and buying fair trade means that we don’t have to give up the pleasure of consuming that, but we have to pay more for that little luxury that comes guilt-free and also as green as can be, given that fair trade practices go hand in hand with the green ones. A nice combination that translates into something that we take for granted on this side of the world yet it is almost unheard of in those places where our sweet cocoa treats are hailing from: respect for human life.

When we buy something that has a trail of suffering behind, no matter how invisible the trail is, it’s still there. Nice wrappings and cute or smart advertising can make most of those annoying ethical thoughts take a back seat. Hopefully just temporarily. So change that. Change the world by not buying foods that involve child slavery. Just because we don’t see it here it doesn’t mean it’s not real. Whether you’re a parent or not, there is something so inherently wrong about child labour that cannot be ignored. Simply put, what’s pleasure to you, whether a chocolate bar, your daily coffee or that steaming cup of hot cocoa at your favourite coffee shop – unless they’re fairly traded – it’s suffering to a child.  And that’s wrong. And the same goes for all things involving child labour. It could be toys, shoes, clothes, household items. Get to know what you’re buying and change someone’s world by choosing wisely and let others know about it. Affordable sometimes comes with a price that most of us would not be willing to pay and that’s a child’s sad and hopeless cry. If it’s silent it’s because we choose to leave it silent.

It is said that people like to feel powerful. Powerful comes in many shapes and flavours. Like the power to change the world, for example. You may not be able to stop cocoa farmers in West Africa from buying and using children to grow their crops tomorrow. Yes, it is called child slavery, a more than questionable practice, which unfortunately exists and its repulsive bitterness should be felt by all of us in all those goods that come from such tainted places. But you can reduce the demand for such practices. And you can spread the word. Everything has to start somewhere. A spark is all it takes. Like a match – you can watch the flame die slowly or use it to build a fire to keep you and others warm.
To people like us who are fortunate enough to live on the side of the world where children can smile and play instead of being forced to work as slaves, go hungry and be abused physically, the power to change the world is a choice. And that’s reason enough to do it.

What are you ready to give up today to make change someone’s world into a better one?