Children thrive on hope.  

Hope that mum will say yes to a play date. Hope that the car ride is nearly over. Hope for a weekend full of sunshine.   

This Easter, as families prepare egg hunts in backyards around Australia, we see that child-like hope spring to life, with the hope of filling a basket with brightly coloured, foil-wrapped chocolate treats. 

Sadly, chocolate eggs have a dark side. They can also destroy hope for millions of children around the world. 

The cocoa industry is propped up by vulnerable kids who are being exploited as labour. In 2020,1.5 million children were working on cocoa plantations in Ghana and the Ivory Coast. This number has increased since the pandemic, as rising food prices put pressure on children to work instead of attend school. The International Labour Organisation predicts that 8.9 million children will be in child labour by the end of 2022. 

And the sad truth is that without consumer pressure and public scrutiny, little will change. 

In 2001, chocolate companies signed the Harkin-Engel Protocol, which aimed to reduce child labour by 70 percent across Ghana and the Ivory Coast by 2020. But the industry failed spectacularly, using methods that reached fewer than 20 percent of workers. The lesson is clear: good intentions fade without public pressure.  

This Easter, Choose Ethical Chocolate  

Be Slavery Free has released this year’s Chocolate Scorecard, surveying 38 companies that make up to 90 percent of the global cocoa industry. The scorecard ranks chocolate companies like Cadbury, Nestle, Lindt and Ferrero based on their performance on human rights issues like child labour and providing a living income, as well as environmental issues such as climate, forestry, and use of chemicals.  

If you’re buying eggs this Easter, use the scorecard to choose chocolate brands that keep children safe from exploitation. Share it with your family, friends and church, so we can be better informed as Australian consumers. 

That way, we can help all children thrive on hope, so they can enjoy fullness of life as God intends.  

Hope In A Better World 

Easter is a good reminder that Jesus has the ultimate hope to offer all of us–including our most vulnerable children. 1 Peter 1:3 says, ‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead’.  

Jesus’ sacrifice has given humanity ‘new birth into a living hope’—God’s new kingdom of love and justice. Because of him, we have hope for a better world. A world where childhoods are spent in classrooms, not cocoa farms. Where children are not robbed of the opportunity to play, grow, and build their own futures. 

As we share Easter’s message of hope with kids in Australia, we can also act to help all children experience fullness of life, through what we choose to purchase and consume. 

Australian Christians have been doing this for years. Church letter and postcard-writing campaigns were part of the movement that convinced Cadbury to release its first Fairtrade certified chocolate block in 2010. Since then, the advocacy team at Baptist World Aid, along with others, has continued to push the chocolate industry away from a race to the bottom on worker conditions. Companies now compete to have the most sustainable brand.  

And this means we have real power as consumers to choose brands that don’t exploit children as labour, no matter how delicious the chocolate is.