This week, we would like to feature content from the Immigration and Human Trafficking committees:
On December 16, the celebration of Las Posadas Navideñas begins, and the AMSSND Immigration Committee is preparing a corresponding novena. Las Posadas Immigration Committee is preparing a corresponding novena. Las Posadas (the Christmas Inn) is a Mexican religious tradition that commemorates Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem and their struggle to find refuge there. For nine nights (a novena), from December 16-24, neighbors recreate the events described in the Gospels, as Mary and Joseph were denied shelter by many, until one innkeeper at last allowed them to sleep in his barn – and there, Jesus was born. The novena culminates with a celebration that echoes the rejoicing of the shepherds and angels at the birth of the Christ Child.
The Immigration Committee invites you to participate in this experience by praying a novena that we hope will open our hearts to welcoming Christ. While we might be far removed from the Bethlehem of 2000 years ago, Jesus tells us in Matthew 25 that when we encounter strangers, we encounter him – “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” Thus, we are graced with the presence of Christ in a very real way by the immigrants who come to us seeking refuge and a better life. In accord with the “inextricable connection” of the SSNDs to the immigrant experience, as affirmed by the AMSSND Corporate Stance on Immigration, join us in praying this novena for immigrants and refugees , and for our hearts to be opened to receiving the grace offered to us by their presence. Click here or the links above to access the novena.
Please see below for the latest installment of the Human Trafficking Committee’s series on child labor, written by Marie Ciccone. For further information, please read the Just Act resource, “Child Labor, Illiteracy, and Poverty: A Tragic Cycle.”
In a few weeks we will be celebrating the feast of the birth of Jesus Christ. Many parts of the world and especially children look forward to this wonderful and blessed event.
Now try to imagine that a child in your own family could be forced into child labor under terrible working conditions day after day without any hope for the future. It sounds like a nightmare but unfortunately for many families in certain countries of West Africa, this is really a nightmare coming true especially when it comes to cocoa.
The beginning of the finished product of chocolate begins with the picking of the cocoa bean and unfortunately it is often where child labor becomes a part of the chain. As of 2015, up to 19,000 children were working in the Ivory Coast, the world's largest producer of cocoa and many of these children may have been victims of trafficking or slavery. It is estimated that more than 1.8 million children in West Africa are involved in growing cocoa. These children, ages 5 years to 11 years old worked in agriculture in cocoa growing areas and many of them are engaged in hazardous work including working with sharp tools, agricultural chemicals and carrying heavy loads.
One of the best options for the purchase of chocolate is called Fair Trade (a label that assures that the product being purchased has met certain criteria in its line of production). In reality we need to pay more for chocolate than we do now if we are serious about ending poverty and exploitation.
Another option is to contact retail stores, manufacturers and importers to find out the origin of the product (chocolate) and let them know you will not purchase chocolate that involves child labor anywhere in the food chain from cocoa bean picking to points further along in its production.