Off to Africa

Comments 8 by Rebecca Bollwitt

I am currently somewhere in the middle of my 18-hour journey to Ghana, West Africa (and have scheduled this post for publication). I have been alluding to this trip on Twitter and Facebook as three weeks ago I was invited by Cadbury to be a part of the final leg of its Bicycle Factory campaign. I am the only person from the West Coast who was invited along on this trip and I will be joined by Darius Bashar, a blogger and social technology evangelist from Toronto.

Since 2009 Cadbury has been running the Bicycle Factory program that has encouraged Canadians to enter UPC codes online from their Fair Trade Dairy Milk bars, Caramilk, or other Cadbury products in exchange for digital “bike parts”. For every “digital bike part” a real bike was assembled. These bicycles were delivered to villages in Ghana later that year and I’m coming along for the next delivery of over 4,000 bicycles this week.

Here in Vancouver we may take bicycles for granted — either renting tandems for a cruise around the sea wall, or cursing a road closure to allow for the construction of a bike lane. However in the Ghanaian villages I will visit, it means so much more. Children, youth, and families can now travel further, faster, without walking or missing out on school or services that are not available within the vicinity of their homes.

Cadbury has a large presence in Ghana as cocoa is a one of the country’s largest industries. In 2008 they established the Cadbury Cocoa Partnership with the United Nations Development Programme, local governments, farmers, and communities and in 2009 they committed to establishing Fairtrade status. Cadbury, who since achieved status in 2010, currently partners with Kuapa Kokoo, the Fairtrade Certified Cocoa Farmers Co-operative that ensures those working in the cocoa industry to are able to achieve a sustainable livelihood. Please note: I researched this background information myself when I was considering the trip and was not supplied this information by Cadbury. I have also not been paid to participate in this campaign.

I have no idea what to expect in terms of the bicycle delivery this week, the visits to the villages, and meeting these families, but I am very much looking forward to everything that I will learn.

With my grandmother (my beloved “Oma”) still in the hospital, I left with much anxiety, a heavy heart, and tears bubbling up from so many emotions. This is most definitely an adventure of a lifetime and I know she wants me to go. I look forward to sending her video messages from Ghana and kissing her cheek upon my return.

All posts from this trip will use the tag: Africa. Disclosure: My airfare and accommodations have been covered.

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8 Comments  —  Comments Are Closed

  1. MkMonday, February 14th, 2011 — 12:15pm PST

    This looks like an amazing opportunity! Enjoy it, treasure it and we look forward to hearing more about your experiences!

  2. Henry LeeMonday, February 14th, 2011 — 12:31pm PST

    We’re thinking of you out on your adventure and of your family for your Oma’s recovery.

  3. DarrenMonday, February 14th, 2011 — 12:53pm PST

    Have fun! There was a really interesting piece in the Globe and Mail this weekend about the threatened global supply of chocolate. It seems germane:

  4. MelissaMonday, February 14th, 2011 — 3:28pm PST

    So excited for you! Looking forward to reading more about your experience.

  5. gigglesMonday, February 14th, 2011 — 8:52pm PST

    Rebecca I recently watched a devastating child labor video about the cocoa industry. Very young children are so exploited, it’s horrible. This is such a noble cause you’re a part of! I’d never heard of! I knew there was a reason I like Cadbury chocolate best…well that’s not completely true, although they make my favorite chocolate bars, they’re second to purdies! Can’t wait to hear what you’ve learned. It seems like an amazing opportunity. Your Oma would be so proud of you! All the best to you and stay safe!

    Hugs Giggles

  6. MuckymooTuesday, February 15th, 2011 — 10:46am PST

    What an amazing opportunity. I had been entering UPC codes dilently last fall to “build” these bikes. I am pleased to hear you have been given the chance of going and promoting this worth-while cause. I wear my tshirt I won from Cadbury proudly since says, “In Africa this is not a bicycle (next to an image of a bike)…it is an ambulance, a water truck, delivery van, school bus.”
    I look forward to your posts and my best regards and wishes to your Oma for a speedy, healthy recovery.

  7. DebbieWednesday, February 16th, 2011 — 3:36pm PST

    I’m another one that entered countless UPC codes in that campaign. It was lovely to read your blog today, and see the photo’s.

  8. Marilyn AdamMonday, March 7th, 2011 — 11:21am PST

    Dear Miss604,
    While I applaud your efforts in Ghana, children are still being used as slave labour in the harvesting of cocoa. Cadbury-owned by the huge Kraft Corporation has been reported as one of the worst offenders. The charitable efforts by chocolate producing companies (local ones as well) in my opinion, are a smoke screen. Chocolate is a multi-billion dollar industry. Profit is the prime motive. I am boycotting chocolate entirely because no one can know for sure where and how the cocoa is obtained. I write to you hoping others see this and stop buying chocolate as well. Thank you for your good works. (a former chocoholic)

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