All Photos by Karen Weiss
As leaders, we’re frequently given a platform to talk about the things that matter to us. Human trafficking is one of those issues for me.
Several years ago, after finding out how human trafficking is a global issue and supply chains keep people across the world in poverty (and slavery), I made a conscious choice to purchase fair trade products as much as I can. This choice started with coffee and chocolate and has moved to clothing, bedding, and towels. I’m choosing to use my dollars to communicate what I care about to companies, big and small.
Apart from the fact that human trafficking negates the very beautiful humanness every person embodies, it also demeans and debases the people enslaving those being trafficked. It sets up economic systems that steal dignity and voice from the marginalized and impoverished.
On all fronts, human trafficking is a scourge.
Unfortunately, we in the United States unknowingly participate in it when we buy fast fashion, cheap goods, and almost anything made or sourced overseas not labeled “fair trade” in some way (shrimp caught by slaves in Thailand, sweatshops in Bangladesh making sneakers, and cotton picked by forced labor in Uzbekistan, for example).
I’m not telling this to make you feel bad or overwhelmed. I am sharing this because leaders have an obligation to speak of causes, companies, and organizations (their own and others) that support human flourishing. I found a spot that does beautiful work to make sure people are taken care of in the best way possible, and I want to share it with you. That spot is MOKA Origins, found in an out of the way town in Northeast PA.
Last week I went on personal retreat at a yoga retreat center and community space called the Himalayan Institute. Fascinatingly enough, they have a fairly traded coffee and chocolate “factory” on their property. They craft small batches of coffee and chocolate, being able to identify (for the most part) which batches came from which farms in Tanzania, Cameroon, Uganda, and Ghana to name a few. They provide fair wages to international farmers, educate visitors through tours and outreach, and provide an awesome space to have a great cup of coffee and interact with the people making the products. While there I had conversations with their head roaster and was given a sample of seventy-two percent dark chocolate right out of the grinders. It was sublime, like a warm hug. (No, I’m not overstating it. It was amazing.)
Over the three days, I bought several bars of dark chocolate, a couple cups of coffee and a t-shirt to support their work. And I’m telling you about Moka Origins to raise awareness and hopefully inspire you to consider what’s important to you and then take action to make it known.
FYI: If you’re into this kind of thing, you can join the subscription service to get chocolate and coffee delivered to you monthly. Yum!
Questions to ponder:
What do I care about?
How do I tell people about it?
How might I intentionally make my causes more known?
Stay curious friends!
In case you’re curious…Here are some photos of the workshop and the equipment they use to produce REALLY delicious products.
The Roaster, which roasts both coffee and chocolate for the facility.
The grinders, which pulverize the cocoa beans into liquid chocolate.