Cobalt Children of DR Congo
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If you take a minute out of your life to watch the film clip below, you'll know why this website has come online. When ignorance is no longer a protection from the evils of the world, you have to decide what to do: something or nothing. If nothing, we must accept that we are complicit with the abuses going on in the world. No individual can fight every battle. It's wearying and overwhelming. This is a battle we can fight by paying a bit extra for our smartphones.
Who is behind this website, and why has it come online? Flinty Maguire and Annemiek Macco share their thoughts

Flinty Maguire writes: I watched Aex Crawford's Sky News report on child cobalt miners in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The report was effective: the image of small boys, child miners, looking nervously into the camera lens; exhausted, ill and depressed, was profoundly distressing to witness. That night, my mum and I made an internet donation to UNICEF. It didn't seem adequate. Child labour in Congolese mines is not a new problem. Despite Amnesty International probing corporates for evidence of fairer and better practice, these children continue to labour in dangerous and health damaging conditions. Corporate spokespeople utter platitudes which sound reassuring but are, in fact, meaningless to children toiling at 12 hour shifts and going hungry. The very least I could do was to raise my voice for these children, as so many people are doing. I cobbled this website together and started making some connections through social media. That's how I made contact with Annemiek Macco, a Dutch airline pilot, and Ian Harvey, director of the Congo Children Trust, which supports a project called Kimbilio, a children's sanctuary in Lubumbashi, Congo. Ian's from just up the coast from me, but has worked in Congo for years and has incredible experience in assisting vulnerable children. I've also made contact with Sister Catherine Mutindi who heads The Good Shepherd Sisters project in Kolwezi, Congo; and Mark Dummett of Amnesty International, who researched and wrote: This is what we die for; a report on human rights abuses in Congolese cobalt mines. The Sky News film about Dorsen and Richard has had 44 million views. People are engaged. They do care. Things change when people keep pushing. Small steps turn into a big journey. We need to keep pushing. These children are trapped by inadequacies, failings and corruption. They need our help.

Annemiek Macco writes: Hello, my name is Annemiek, and I am from the Netherlands. I live in a small village in the south, with my husband and two boys Lars (3) and Niels (1,5). I fly for a major airline in the Netherlands.

I saw the news item of Dorsen and Richard on Dutch news, and it broke my heart to see what world they live in. I decided to do something, and with Flinty, I found a wonderful partner in setting up a project to see what we could do to help and to draw attention to these kids and their life. Besides that, I raise money for the organisations on this website; Kimbilio and The good Shepherd Sisters. Both organisations help children to get out of the mines and get back to school in a safe environment.

In my free time, I love to go outside, for a hike to the woods, or, on holiday in the mountains. I love sports and everything outdoors, but most of all I spend my time with my husband and two boys.

Please join us in our mission to give as many children a better life, by signing the petition, my donating whatever money you can miss, or just by sharing this website and Dorsens page on Facebook!

Amnesty International - what they say about the cobalt children

Mark Dummett, business and human rights researcher at Amnesty said that mining was "one of the worst forms of child labour... Millions of people enjoy the benefits of new technologies but rarely ask how they are made. It is high time the big brands took some responsibility for the mining of the raw materials that make their lucrative products... Companies whose global profits total $125bn (£86.7bn) cannot credibly claim that they are unable to check where key minerals in their productions come from."

Source: Amnesty Internation website >

Cobalt - it's valuable. It should be mined safely and paid for fairly

Corporations need cobalt and the Democratic Republic of the Congo has it. The country is in turmoil. There is abject poverty. DC Congo is, however, resource-rich in cobalt, tin and gold. At the very least, corporates can pay fairly for Congolese resources and, in the spirit of humanity, encourage and support safe working practice and end the exploitation of children. Exploiting vulnerable and desperate people is not okay. It is inhumane and share holders should be ashamed if their priorities are profit above the suffering of children and adult workers.

How could corporates effect change in Congolese artisanal mines?

1. Cobalt should be mined and valued to Fair Trade practice.
2. Companies can add value to goods by aligning them with fair trade and ethical practice, giving consumers the choice to pay more at the point of sale in the form of a donation, or by purchasing something extra (a lapel pin, a badge, a case marked #conflictminerals #DRCongo; there are endless possibilities). Consumers could also be given the opportunity to purchase goods branded for the purpose of raising funds for Congolese welfare. Such funds could be directed to on-the-ground field workers and established projects and charities.

That's not much to ask. We're not asking corporates to pay out of their own pocket - just organise sustained collections of money from ethical consumers. There are a lot of us.

Change is needed, and it needs to happen fast

These children are suffering. Anyone mining cobalt without protective clothes and proper equipment is damaging their health. It is not acceptable. Child labour is not acceptable.

We will diarise, on this website, and through Twitter and Facebook, who we write to, and what their response is. Our efforts need to be supported by you. Retweet. Like. Follow. Buy something from our shop or donate (that's a request, not an order!).

Don't be apathetic. Apathy means we are condoning abuse. As consumers, we have power and we should use it to the good

On Twitter, Councillor John Edwards expressed distress following the #Dorsen report. "Bloody hell. Bloody hell... Third world problems are people problems. Every last one of us needs to stop distancing ourselves." We have to insist on change and make it happen. As consumers, we have power.

John Edwards tweet
No apathy

How to help #Dorsen and children like him
Did you know that people who take action are less likely to suffer from depression?

You could donate...
When children earn as little as 8p a day, every penny helps
Buy something from our shop: 100% goes to help Congolese children


No help offered from these companies: Apple, Samsung, Nokia, Daimler, Vodafone, Volkswagen, Lenovo. They gave standard "brush-off" responses. Apple claims they lead the industry!
CEO Rajeev Suri, Nokia
These companies didn't even bother to respond to our letters
Cobalt Children, 2017. Consumers and Corporates know it's wrong for children to mine cobalt.
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