Do you know that your favorite chocolate sweet could be hurting kids half a world away? 70% of the world’s cocoa comes from West African countries, mostly the Ivory Coast. The children in Western Africa live in severe poverty, and most begin work at a very young age to help support their families. Unaware of the harsh and dangerous work environment, coca farm owners lure children into working on their farms by promising the job pays well. Once they are taken to the coca farms, the children are beaten for poor work performance, forced to work long, grueling hours in the sun with little to no pay, and receive minimal amounts of food for meals. The chocolate companies are well aware of the child labor, human trafficking, and slavery that happen on the cocoa farms but little to nothing is being done to address these violations of human rights.
The Bitter Side of Sweet takes you to one of these cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast. Two young brothers, Amadou and Seydou, spend their days chopping down cacao pods with sharp machetes. The higher the number they collect each day the safer they are having their bosses beat them. Amadou came to the farm in hopes to find seasonal work to bring home some extra money to help out his Baba and Auntie. But they were tricked into slavery on the cocoa plantation. Now he’s not sure he will ever pay of his debt or return home. One day a young girl appears on the plantation. She fights day after day to escape the horrible place. Her determination reminds Amadou what it means to fight for your freedom.
Verdict: Tara Sullivan writes about real and upsetting topics that shouldn’t be happening in the world. The Bitter Side of Sweet is an eye opening and informative read about the dark side of the chocolate industry. Amadou’s story and his fight for his freedom is a must read.