Mr. Nick Jeffery, CEO of Vodafone: Will you help these cobalt children, please? Children like Dorsen have helped companies make lots of profit. Dorsen works 12 hours a day for as little as 8p or 10̔¢. This is slave labour and a human rights abuse. Your help would be appreciated. Your company would be lauded.
Will Nick Jeffery, CEO of Vodafone help #Dorsen and the Congolese cobalt children?
27 April 2017: Vodafone response from Annette Fergusson regarding Dorsen and Richard, child cobalt miners in the DR Congo: research, talk, but no practical help offered. We have written back...
Email response received from Annette Fergusson, for which we thank her. Unfortunately, her letter makes no reference to Dorsen or Richard, child cobalt miners, or what Vodafone can do to help these children in a practical sense.
The points Annette Fergusson made were:
Vodafone thinks conditions facing the artisanal miners and children in DR Congo is terrible.
Vodfone is scrutinizing their supply chain.
Through a partnership between Just Giving, Vodafone UK and the Vodafone Foundation the service allows individuals and charities of any size to leverage the power of mobile giving to raise money for charity.
This is encouraging. Dorsen and Richard's situation is acknowledged as "terrible". Vodafone already raises funds. Surely then, Vodafone could raise funds for Dorsen, Richard and the cobalt children?
Our Cobalt Children letter explains:
Individuals, like me, can raise a little money to aid Congolese artisanal and child miners*, but it’s a drop in the ocean. Fundraising needs to be sustained on a large scale.
Countless consumers do care, but we need organising. You company 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), or by purchasing 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.
Is your company proactive and willing to participate?
Our conclusion on Vodafone's response: Vodafone does not address they key point in our letter: to fundraise and organise practical help for Dorsen, Richard and the cobalt children. No help is offered.
Good to know that Vodafone say they take the issue of the human rights abuses of cobalt children and creusseurs seriously. We need PRACTICAL HELP for Dorsen, Richard and the cobalt children. They need practical help for: food, shelter, clothes, schooling and their general welfare.
Second email sent: 28 April 2017.
Our question: Will Vodafone support our fundraising project to help Dorsen, Richard and the cobalt children?
From: Flinty Maguire, Cobalt Children [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] Sent: 28 April 2017 15:16 To: 'Fergusson, Annette, Vodafone Group' <email@example.com> Subject: Cobalt children in the DR Congo: Dorsen and Richard
Thank you for your email. I understand from corporates that there is a zero tolerance policy to child labour; that there is research into supply chains and that, in reality, it is difficult to trace the source of cobalt. The answers I am receiving from corporates are similar to the answers received by Mark Dummett of Amnesty International, when he sought clarification on cobalt sourcing for his report: This Is What We Die For, published January 2016.
However, I asked for specfic help in fundraising for cobalt children, including Dorsen and Richard, who spoke of their miserable existence in Alex Crawford's Sky News film. This film, posted on Facebook, has received over 44 million views. There are over 836,000 shares.
An update on the Dorsen and Richard situation. We have canvased the support of Sky News. A member of the Sky News team hopes to visit DR Congo next week to liaise with the director of Kimbilio, a project based in Lubumbashi. Kimbilio is supported by the registered children's charity: Congo Children Trust, founded by Ian Harvey of the UK. The charity supports street children and children forced to work mines. I am in direct contact with Ian Harvey and Nick Ludlam. There is a plan to try to locate Dorsen and Richard and make an assessment of their needs. Sky News may cover this story again if we can make progress. Not only do we plan to offer assistance to Dorsen, Richard and other children, but we can, collectively, highlight the issue of child cobalt and artisanal mining in the DR Congo again.
Please will you help us raise funds for Dorsen and Richard and the cobalt children? It's practical help they need: relief from 12 hour days, beatings, starvation, hard labour, health threats. Academic research, conferences, corporate responses have their place, but these children need our practical help now.
I look forward to your reply which will be published on www.cobaltchildren.org
Many thanks and kind regards
Flinty Maguire (Ms)
From: Fergusson, Annette, Vodafone Group [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] Sent: 27 April 2017 15:00 To: email@example.com Subject: Vodafone response on Cobalt mining in the DRC
Dear Ms Maguire,
Thank you for your letter sent to Nick Jeffrey dated 4th April regarding child labour and the conditions found in artisanal cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The conditions facing the artisanal miners in the region featured in the Sky News piece are, as you say, terrible. The plight of children involved in the process is particularly concerning.
I’ve attached for your information a statement that details Vodafone’s supply chain practices, human rights due diligence checks and actions relating to conflict minerals and also cobalt. Hopefully this gives you an overview of our current efforts. We continue to focus on how we can strengthen our approach to these issues within our supply chain.
As well as the due diligence work that is underway, Vodafone is also developing programmes to use our technology to support greater access to education in the DRC for children who are currently out of school, designed by the Vodafone Foundation. I’ve provided some information on two such programmes running in the DRC, as well as across other countries in Africa:
The Instant Schools for Africa initiative provides children who are currently out of school with free access to online learning materials. The materials are developed in conjunction with a leading not-for-profit provider of open-source educational technology solutions - and with educational partners, ministries of education and local education experts in DRC (and other African countries).
The Instant Network Schools is helping some of those children living in refugee camps. Over half of the world’s 63.5million displaced people are children. Many of these spend much of their childhood and school age years in refugee camps with limited access to quality education. The programme connects classrooms to the internet providing connectivity, power, tablet computers, mobile content and teacher training. Four Instant Networks Schools are currently in operation or planned in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Both programmes are developed by the Vodafone Foundation, and you may be interested in more information, which is available here.
Vodafone Group Services Limited, One Kingdom Street, Paddington Central, London W2 6BY. vodafone.com
Vodafone Group Services Limited Registered Office: Vodafone House, The Connection, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 2FN. Registered in England number 3802001
From: Flinty Maguire, Cobalt Children [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] Sent: 18 April 2017 14:03 To: 'email@example.com' <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: FAO Mr Nick Jeffrey, CEO Vodafone
Dear Mr Nick Jeffery,
I posted a letter to you on the 4 April 2017. I attach it here again.
I wish to draw your attention to the Sky News report: “Inside the Congo mines that exploit children”. The report deals with the mining of cobalt used in lithium ion batteries in profitable and widely used items such as smartphones and laptops.
The Sky News report features Dorsen, an 8 year old boy who mines cobalt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He works 12 hours a day for as little as eight British pence. This Sky News report triggered the Cobalt Children campaign to ask companies, such as yours, to organize help for these children and creusseurs.
The Sky News report is posted on Facebook has had 43 million views and has been shared over 834,000 times. There are over 150,000 comments.
I am sure you will agree that this overwhelming response from the general public to the issue of child labour in cobalt mines, and the exploited labour of creusseurs, warrants comment and action from your company.
I appreciate you need to consider your response which I look forward to receiving on or before 1st May, 2017. From now, until that date, Dorsen may have worked 168 hours of hard labour mining cobalt, which may include being beaten, starved and injured. This child, and others like him, need our collective help and they need it soon. We cannot let this issue go on for more years. It shames us all.