In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic it’s easy to forget that Easter is just a few days away – and with it comes the chance to forget the gloom and indulge in some Fairtrade chocolate. Divine Chocolate showed their appreciation of the great efforts that frontline medics are making to keep us all safe with this delivery of Fairtrade Easter eggs to Lewisham hospital in London.
‘Like everyone across UK, we are incredibly appreciative and grateful for the extraordinary job all NHS staff are doing during the COVID-19 pandemic,’ says Divine Chocolate’s CEO Sophi Tranchell. ‘The one thing we can certainly offer is chocolate – a gift that is hopefully both pleasurable and cheering. Lewisham is a busy London hospital where we also happen to have some personal contacts, so we didn’t hesitate.’
Meanwhile Divine have been keeping in contact with their cocoa and sugar suppliers in Ghana, São Tomé, Sierra Leone and Malawi to offer what support they can. ‘It’s vital that the producers know they remain our priority, and that we are working in all the ways we can to continue operations and sales,’ says Sophi. ‘All Divine staff are now working from home and of course the cafes which stock Divine products have closed, but online and retail sales are going really well. Everyone can play their part by choosing Fairtrade chocolate and other products when they shop. Thousands of people are sharing their commitment on social media, which is hugely encouraging for our partners in Africa and beyond.’
One of those partners is the Kasinthula Cane Growers in Malawi which supplies Divine’s Fairtrade certified sugar. Teacher Nduzani Zaya, whose mother is a sugar farmer, is just one of those getting used to the new reality of life under lockdown. She lives with her mother and three sisters in Sadulo village in the Chikwawa district and sometimes helps with planting and weeding on her mother’s smallholder farm.
‘Schools have been closed but I am still going to work to mark exams that happened before the school closures,’ says Nduzani. ‘Myself and other teachers from the academy will be teaching online, or recording videos that we can send out to parents. However, not all families – especially those on low-incomes – have access to the necessary technology, and they will lose out.’
Elsewhere, there was both good and bad news for the Fairtrade organic cocoa farmers of São Tomé. As of April 1st, no cases of the virus had been reported on the tiny island off Africa’s west coast. But, as the BBC reports, the women’s Under-17 football team suffered a whopping 10-0 defeat to Cameroon – and now can’t get a flight home.
Photos © Divine Chocolate