DORSEN AND RICHARD: Doing something practical pays off
[Header image: Sky News] When I saw the Sky News film of Dorsen and Richard in February, I was distressed. I wanted to do something – not sure what – to help. I took their story personally. I have a smartphone, a camera, a laptop – I use lots of things with rechargeable batteries. Children had mined cobalt in the things I owned and that made me complicit. Everyone who saw Alex Crawford’s film wanted to tranform the boys’ lives from this…
Just a mention of the videographer, whose work was sensitive, poignant and profound. Alex Crawford’s report was succinct, moving and memorable. This meaningful report reached millions.
I decided to act. I threw together a website. I conferred and shared concerns with lots of people on Facebook, including Annemiek Macco, Alex Harris and Lisa Maheshi. I got some advice from Congolese journalist Serge Mabele. I called the website Children Play.og (children should play, not work). Serge said the website name was wrong. Annemiek suggested something specific – Cobalt Children. Much better! I changed the name: www.cobaltchildren.org. Searching Facebook, I came across Ian Harvey, director of the Congolese children’s charity, Kimbilio. What luck! I wrote to cobalt, smartphone and car corporates asking for help. NO LUCK THERE. (Do all corporates suck? I ask myself daily.) In desperation, I wrote an email to the Sky News planning desk and was lucky again – it was read by someone prepared to send it on to Nick Ludlam, Africa Editor, who works alongside Alex Crawford Sky News. Nick cared enough to contact Ian and me to discuss the possibilities of trying to relocate Richard and Dorsen. I threw a pebble in the pond and saw the ripples spread. Throw pebbles! You just don’t know what it will lead to – and in this case, it is something good. Thank you Nick Ludlam for getting in touch with us. Thank you Alex Crawford and her team, for going back to #DR Congo. Thank you Ian Harvey for being on this earth. Thank you Alex, Annemiek, Lisa and so many others for being friends and colleagues in this quest.
Two little boys now eat every day and sleep in a bed. They are learning to read and write, wear clean clothes and play like children. Their story will also help other children.
The film had a downside. Their fathers’ sad resignation that they should let their sons go, so they could survive. Their community is crushed by poverty – it needs some support. This is something to think about and plan for. How can we help? Seeds? Chickens? A well? Building materials? What could be done? [Image below: Sky News]
Sound bites don’t feed children. Dusting off my sewing machine 🙂
Networking and practical work continues. The BIG QUESTION is: will the corporates @Apple, Samsung Mobile, Sony, Volkswagen. Daimler AG, Lenovo, Acer, Nokia, and more, stop sending me politically correct statements (which sicken me, quite frankly) and do something PRACTICAL to help? A gift of money, a product sold to benefit children who’ve been abused in the cobalt industry? Investment in artisanal mines so that workers have a hope of fair pay and safe practice? Something??? I write back to them and say: Children cannot eat politically correct statements – please will you help? They ignore me or send standard brush-off responses.
I’ve been brushed-off by: Nokia, Samsung, Lenovo, Vodafone, Volkswagen and Daimler.
I’ve been ignored by: Huayou Cobalt, LG, Doro, Sony, Acer, Apple, Archos, Google, Blackberry, HP Inc., Microsoft and Dell.
They’ve all had paper letters sent to their CEOs and follow-up emails. None of the corporates have had the good grace to answer my questions, or to mention Dorsen and Richard, two little boys who have laboured 12 hours a day in the cobalt industry for as little as 8p.
This issue won’t go away unless we say STOP. There are thousands of children like Dorsen and Richard who need our help, and who are part of the #smartphone industry, helping companies to profit with their starvation and suffering. Donate. Follow. Comment. Buy one of our lovely handmade products. (Practical action = something tangible.) 100% is donated to helping Dorsen and his friends, child miners in Democratic Republic… Here are some things that have been recently made. They’ll be uploaded SOON to our Folksy shop on cobaltchildren.org – or just message me on Facebook, Twitter or email firstname.lastname@example.org
100% of money raised is sent to @Kimbilio where Dorsen and Richard now live. There is still so much to do.
Please note… the fabric below was sent to me by Gill Venton, a voluntary worker for Kimbilio. It is Congolese and absolutely gorgeous. I received it a couple of days ago and am making up some samples: mobile phone cases, hair bands, brooches, book bags… Buying lovely things from a charity helps. I’ve also made some quirky envelopes out of Graham & Brown wallpaper. Love stationary!
Volunteers work for free. 100% goes to charity.