Project Hope And Fairness Founder Plans 5th Annual Trip To The Ivory Coast And Ghana To Help Impoverished Cocoa Farmers

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Organization seeks travelers/contributors who want to learn about cocoa farming, do a world of good and make a difference in the lives of the people who bring America its sweetest commodity.

The gross disparity between the suffering of the West African cocoa farmers, their children, and the current chocolate trading practices should give consumers pause for reflection

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West African cocoa farmers supply 75% of America’s cocoa, but have never tasted one of its sweetest byproducts, chocolate, in their lives. They can’t afford the confection. Tom Neuhaus, founder of Sweet Earth Organic Chocolates, Inc., one of a handful of certified Organic and Fair Trade chocolate companies in the US, is looking for 10 unique, adventurous travelers who want to take an educational and social justice trip to the Ivory Coast and Ghana in West Africa. While there, they will learn about cocoa farming, the history of chocolate, Fair Trade and contribute to bettering the lives of the impoverished farmers.

Scheduled to take place from August 8-25, 2007, the trip is the second educational outing organized by Neuhaus, a food science professor at Cal Poly University in San Luis Obispo, California. He established Project Hope and Fairness to assist West African cocoa farmers and advocate for Fair Trade practices in cocoa producing nations. Detailed information about the trip and photos of the area can be found on the Project Hope and Fairness Web site at http://www.projecthopeandfairness.org. Spaces are limited and reservations and deposits must be made no later than April 20th by calling 805-441-6727.

"The gross disparity between the suffering of the West African cocoa farmers, their children, and the current chocolate trading practices should give consumers pause for reflection,” says Neuhaus. “We need to fight indifference and ignorance and get people on board with conscientious purchasing. Project Hope and Fairness raises awareness of the disparities and advocates for Fair Trade practices.”

Most West African cocoa farmers live in primitive conditions and abject poverty - mud huts with grass roofing, dirt floors, no plumbing or electricity, no access to anti-malarial drugs or modern healthcare facilities. Many of the village children work in the cocoa fields and their parents cannot afford to send them to school. Most farmers are not protected from stinging ants or from dangerous snakes in the cocoa fields because they can’t afford $10 rubber boots that would protect them. And in some cocoa-producing areas, children work as slaves, beaten and kept locked up at night.

This year, Neuhaus will travel to five cocoa farming villages in both Ghana and Ivory Coast. From public donations, including proceeds donated from the sale of Sweet Earth chocolate bars, Project Hope and Fairness will contribute something to the farmers that will make their lives and work a bit safer and perhaps easier. In past years, contributions have included farm tools to replace rusted or broken ones, protective rubber boots to keep the farmer’s feet protected from the elements and snakes and new scales that put the villagers in a position of power over middlemen who supply scales that often cheat on weight of product and thus payment to the farmers.

As part of this year’s trip, Project Hope and Fairness will support the building of water closets (toilets), with the consent from the villagers in the areas they visit. Most villagers now use the side of the road at night or the forest during the day, always wary of encounters with snakes or ants. Each traveler is being asked to contribute $1000 to build a water closet and purchase other vital supplies for the farmers. Neuhaus has kick-started the process by donating $1700 for the sister villages of Depa and Zereguhe where the water closets are now under construction. Plans are underway for water closets in the villages of Pezoan, Broguhe and Batteguedea.

Tom Neuhaus is available for interview. Please call Heather Hellman at 805-544-0134. Photos of the Depa and Zereguhe water closet constructions are available upon request. Additional photos can be downloaded from the Project Hope and Fairness Web site.

About Project Hope and Fairness

Granted 501c3 status in 2006, Project Hope and Fairness helps impoverished cocoa farmers. Efforts are underway to support Ivory Coast and Ghana farmers who supply 75% of America’s chocolate but are living and working under inhumane conditions including child slave labor and improper farm training practices.

The Mission of Project Hope and Fairness, Inc. is to assist African cocoa farmers who suffer disproportionately from the inequities in the world cocoa trade with particular focus on the participation of chocolate producers and consumers in the United States. To learn more about the efforts of Project Hope and Fairness, please visit http://www.projecthopeandfairness.org.

About Sweet Earth Organic Chocolates, Inc.

Sweet Earth Organic Chocolates, Inc. was established in 2004 by Tom Neuhaus, a professor of food science at Cal Poly University in San Luis Obispo, California and Joanne Currie, his sister, co-owner of Splash Café, Pismo Beach and Splash Café & Artisan Bakery, San Luis Obispo, California. All Sweet Earth chocolate produced is certified Fair Trade and Organic. The company’s philosophy is “Do no harm,” to the earth or the farmers that supply their product. Customers of Sweet Earth chocolates are guaranteed 100% that no unfair treatment of labor or harmful chemicals was used in the production of the cacao used in their chocolate. A portion of Sweet Earth Chocolate Bar sales is donated to Project Hope and Fairness.

Sweet Earth Organic Chocolates, Inc. is located at 1491 Monterey Street, San Luis Obispo, CA, 93401. For further information about Sweet Earth Chocolates, please visit http://www.sweetearthchocolates.com.

Contact:

Heather Hellman

Highway 101 Communications

p: 805-544-0134

c: 805-215-8545

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