Thursday, 25 March 2010


A few years ago, back when I was sweet, innocent and 18 (1 of those statements was true) I spent just under a month in Ghana. As part of the Staffordshire/Ghana Exchange we travelled all along the coast meeting people, getting to grips with the culture and helped to complete a school.

It was quite possibly the most difficult and most amazing time of my life.  People got malaria, food poisoning and God knows what else.  We travelled to Cape Coast and saw where the slaves were kept, we met the leaders of many different tribes, stumbled upon a village that openly practised voodoo magic and wrestled our way through markets bartering (apparently you have to it's the custom, I felt terrible) to get traders down by a few pence in some cases.

We had some very Western teenager moments where we snuck out to go drinking with a bunch of American's, I got drunk at the British Embassy and then made a speech (I was supposed to make the speech, just not drunk) and had everyone applauding with laughter and clapping because I had this added confidence, we flirted with some cadets , we moaned about the toilets and got in trouble for taking pictures that happened to catch a Ghanaian who then wanted paying.  He then chased our bus.  We did a lot of good too, we cried at how terrible the slaves were treated, we made children howl with laughter when they saw their picture on a digital camera for the first time and then made thir day by giving them balloons, handed over this fantastic school and were very close to adopting one of them.

I've been reminded of my time there a lot lately.  Firstly when I noticed all the African inspired fashion pieces, then when I realised now an entire range called ASOS Africa full of all these prints I saw whilst I was over there.  Most importantly I was reminded of Ghana and the wonderful people there when I saw BBC's programme on chocolate.  Panorama: Chocolate - The Bitter Truth focused on child trafficking and how they are forced to leave school to work on cocoa farms, as well as how easy it is to sell this into the supply chain that provides our high streets with chocolate.

There is a good bit to the story...Paul Kenyon, the Panorama reporter, helps rescue a 12 year old boy - trafficked across borders - to pick cocoa as a modern-day slave and reunites him with his mother.  For the first time, we meet the kids who harvest our cocoa but who have never tasted chocolate."  As Easter approaches I've suddenly been put off chocolate. It'll make you re-evaluate how lucky we are.  It made me think how little of a difference I made.  Every little bit helps though I suppose.  If you didn't see it catch it on iPlayer by clicking the programme name above...remember you only have a week from now to do so!

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