The Idlers Visiting Cobblers in Afghanistan, 2009

As part of a series honoring 10 years of relationship building, friendship and learning in Afghanistan, today we share the story of  Patricia J. Idler and Randy Idler who created a customized Reality Tour to Afghanistan in 2009.

I first spoke with Patty when she called Global Exchange to explore the possibility of a customized Reality Tour trip.  She wanted to go to Afghanistan to learn, meet and engage with a special group of people, to build relationships and create a socially responsible business that would give back. We worked together to put her vision into words, then I introduced her to our in country program officer Najib to help make her dream become a reality (tour.) Here is Patty and Randy’s story.


Guardian Angels and Afghan Cobblers: A Customized Tour Past Participant Shares Her Story by Patricia J. Idler and Randy Idler

Global Exchange you made our trip to Afghanistan amazing.  Thank you for your friendship and global exchanges.  When I wrote to your office in a panic before I went to Afghanistan, I needed to have real authentic help in Afghanistan.  Fear and paranoia are detrimental to any situation, and I suddenly was full of anxiety.   I am not dismissing that there are very dangerous situations in the world, but I am not normally in a state of real fear.   I needed someone to reassure me that there were normal Afghan people that want the same things for their families in Afghanistan that I want for my family.  I needed to know that there would be someone that was my friend and knew the lay of the land, like a guardian angel.  I needed to know that I would not hurt the US soldiers by coming to help and getting in the way.  Global Exchange you provided me with guardian angels.

My hope was to find cobblers in Afghanistan that would want to sell their product to a nonprofit or for profit that would also give back a percentage to the little street children that do not deserve this awful situation. My hope was to help the economic situation in Afghanistan.   We are not going to be getting our US service boys home, unless American citizens empower themselves and help out.  The statement that there is nothing to fear but fear itself is a reality.  American citizens have become so fearful of others.

Global Exchange your love of people and the world made the difference.  You brought me back to reality.  You emailed me and said; we can design your trip; we can help you even if you have your trip planned.   We have wonderful guides and drivers.  Here are their emails.  We have been very successful with our exchanges all over the world to every country.  Would you like to contact people?  Would you like to come see us in San Francisco?   This simple reassurance allowed me to get back to work on my project.

Engaging with Shop Keeper in Kabul, 2009

I would recommend you to the world traveler that hopefully wants to help the world. I wish I could express how grateful I am to organizations such as Global Exchange that want to replace fear with peace, prosperity and hope for mankind.

The driver and guide you sent asked if they minded if they brought their kids.  It was wonderful.  We saw more of Afghanistan than we saw with other guides or on our own.  We met our cobblers.  We met Afghans everywhere.

We were not targets, but we did dress with respect for the Afghan culture.  We dressed like the Afghans, because we respect them and did not stand out.  We met Babur and we walked back in time.  We went to the Afghan markets and bought kites in the old city to fly on the hill on Fridays.

We began to understand that you do not need to take items from America for the children, like harmonicas.   One must buy from the Afghans for the Afghans. Items like bottles of water and simple things like food are wonderful items readily accepted.  We began to see the little children and feel their hunger and realize that child labor laws here are even ridiculous. When your tummy is empty,  is it better to starve?  They would love to be able to work for food.  Their begging is the sole supply of revenue for their families.  Schools like Aschiana school try to educate the street children and help the families with small micro loans for business.  Our countries are planets a part.

My husband was so fearful before we went with the help of our guardian angels relaxed.  He began to give to the children, “but you must give to all not just to some”.  We began to learn and listen to the store keepers on the empty streets.  We began to understand the pride that has been taken from people that just want fair trade prices and to be treated like respectful business people.  We began to make friends.  Thank you for your help Global Exchange.

The US soldiers want the situation to get better and return to their own families.  Every American needs to pitch in and help the situation or we need to go home and help rebuild another way through groups such as Global Exchange.

Thanks to the Idlers for taking the leap of faith to call Global Exchange and customize their first visit with us to Afghanistan. You can too. Visit our customized tour page for more information. 

Time for another Fair Trade Roundup…your healthy dose of Fair Trade news.


Last week the Raise the Bar Hershey campaign urged consumers to take action on Hershey’s Facebook page to support the campaign that is calling on Hershey to go Fair Trade. As the Raise the Bar Hershey Campaign explains:

Hershey is America’s favorite chocolate brand, accounting for 42.5% of the US market. Yet, inside almost every Hershey chocolate product is the bitter truth that the cocoa used to produce the chocolate may very well have been produced under harmful conditions, including forced labor, human trafficking, and abusive child labor.

Since at least 2001, the Hershey Company has been aware of the problems that exist at the start of its supply chain, yet it continues to source from this region without ensuring that labor rights abuses do not occur in the production of the cocoa it uses.

That was last week. This week there have been more labor abuse accusations made against Hershey, this one from the United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS). Earlier today John Fitzgerald from Penn State USAS sent the following announcement:

Today, guestworkers and local workers staged a sit-in at a Hershey chocolate factory in Pennsylvania to protest the disturbing exploitation of student guestworkers and demand living wage jobs for local workers. USAS activists will join Pennsylvania workers with a delegation to the factory soon, but right now we’re asking you to take action to support the guestworkers.

Watch the video National Guestworker Alliance’s video here:

USAS was alerted to human rights abuses of international workers in the United States. This summer, hundreds of students from around the world each paid $3,000-6,000 for what they thought was a cultural exchange program. What they were actually greeted with were chocolate packing jobs at sweatshop conditions, poverty pay, severe pain, no cultural experience, and virtually no chance to make back the money they paid for the program. All this is going on at a Hershey Chocolate factory at Hershey, PA, in Penn State’s backyard. Hershey Chocolate is exploiting international student labor instead of bringing much-needed jobs to Pennsylvanian families.

Take Action: Click here to e-mail Hershey’s CEO John Bilbrey and demand an end to the exploitation of student guestworkers, and/or call his office at 717-534-4200.


Check out the report pdfs here:


WPRI Eyewitness News had an interesting segment about Fair Trade. They did their best to inform consumers about the complexities of Fair Trade product labeling. You can watch it here:


Photo Credit:


Last week called on fans of restaurant chain Cosi to tell the company that “life should be delicious” for cocoa farmers who currently live in poverty.

So for the past week Fair Trade activists filled Cosi’s Facebook Wall with posts about Fair Trade chocolate to encourage Cosi to use Fair Trade Certified cocoa for its popular tableside s’more treats.

A fan posted on Cosi’s wall, “I just went to Cosi 15 minutes ago and then found out on Facebook that this company does not take the problem of child slavery related to the chocolate trade, seriously. Please go with Fair Trade chocolate and take a stand against child slavery in the cocoa trade!”

So what was the response from Cosi?

What response?

One fan asked, “Cosi, why will you respond to all customer concerns EXCEPT those about the type of chocolate you use? I work around the corner from a Cosi and will eat there a lot less if the company isn’t willing to address this issue” and another fan posted “I would really appreciate it if Cosi could provide some kind of response to the fans who are concerned about child labor and other abuses linked to our favorite Cosi chocolate products.”

From looking at Cosi’s Facebook wall posts, it seems pretty clear that while eager to address customer service comments, requests and complaints, Cosi does not appear to be responding to any Fair Trade related comments.

Exhibit A: One hungry fan posted “why is your there no “made your own” sandwich option on your online ordering?” About 2 hours later, Cosi responded to the grammatically-challenged post with “we definitely see the importance in this and we’re working hard to add it as well as other capabilities. Thanks so much for your feedback.

Cosi’s has been silent in response to Facebook fans’ concerns about child labor. To take action, sign the Cosi Petition “Stop Child Labor, Use Fair Trade Chocolate to Make Your S’Mores.


This is the last week to vote for your favorite Fair Trade themed photos in the Fair Trade Calendar Photo Contest. Voting only goes through Saturday, July 17th so vote today if you haven’t yet.

As a member of the Fair Trade Resource Network Board of Directors, I helped launch the first calendar a few years back, and I have to say, the photo submissions this year are some of the best yet! Seriously, you should check them out.

Voting is really easy and free. You simply put a check mark next to your 5 fave pics and enter your email address and voila, consider your votes counted.

Check out a few of the photo contest submissions:

Photo Credit: Baskets of Africa


Photo Credit: Alter Eco





Photo Credit: Julia Baumgartner of Just Coffee Cooperative














The first ever Fair Trade Towns & Universities National Conference is happening in Philadelphia, PA September 9-11, 2011.
The conference will bring together leaders and activists who are organizing or planning to organize a Fair Trade campaign in their town/city or university/college. Organizers, activists, faculty and students will come together to share experiences and resources, sharpen skills, and build momentum for Fair Trade.

All Town and University campaign organizers are welcome, and financial assistance is available on a first-come-first-serve basis.

To learn more about and register for the conference click here

To learn about the opportunity for financial assistance click here

Photo Credit: Ecouterre /Brit Liggitt


Here’s your roundup of Fair Trade news and updates:

The ‘Raise the Bar Hershey’ rally took place in front of the Hershey store in Times Square. Lots of people turned out, including school kids and Kerry Kennedy, and Global Exchange’s Adrienne and Emily.

Check out Hey Hey! Ho Ho! Child Labor has got to Go! to read all about it and see pics. And check back here on our Fair Trade blog in a few days for a new video from the rally.


The third annual Fair Trade Calendar Photo Contest is in full swing. The time is NOW to submit Fair Trade themed photos on behalf of your business or organization for the chance to be included in the 2012 Fair Trade calendar. You can enter photos from producer or consumer countries. The 12 winning Fair Trade photos will be featured in the 2012 Fair Trade Calendar.

Here’s What to Do:
1) Submit Photos (June 1-26, 2011)
1.    Read contest Guidelines/Eligibility for details on qualifying, specifications, etc.
2.    Email each photo, with a caption up to 50 words to;
3.    Pay submission fee of $10/photo at Fair Trade Resource Network’s Online Store;
2) Vote for Photos (June 27 – July 16, 2011)
Vote online for your favorites, with a link announced on FTRN’s website on June 27. The 12 winning photos will be featured each month in the 2012 Fair Trade Calendar. Over 1500 people voted for their favorite photos in last year’s contest!

To learn more about the Fair Trade Calendar Photo Contest, visit FTRN’s website or email


Thanks to Fair Trade Sports for sharing this gem on its blog. That’s where I first discovered it. According to the post, TMB Bank launched this short film as part of a new brand vision, “Make THE Difference,” to inspire people to start thinking differently.

This video encompasses the wonderfulness of kids, soccer (er, football), and well, life in general! 1,380,434 people (and counting) on YouTube have watched it. Have you?

3blmedia: Fair Trade USA and Textile Exchange Form Strategic Partnership
Going Green Examiner: Why Choose Fair Trade?
axiomnews: United Kingdom Sees Meteoric Rise in Fair Trade
GOOD: Finding a Sweet Spot for Fair Trade Sugar Farmers
PRNewswire: On-Trend Products Defying Economic Downturn
Evening Times (UK): Schools to go into battle for Fairtrade cup

Check back here on our Fair Trade blog for more Fair Trade News Round-Ups…your one-stop shop for current Fair Trade news and events. And if you’ve got big Fair Trade news to share, email me!

World Day Against Child Labor was on Sunday, June 12th. Four days prior, the ‘Raise the Bar Hershey’ rally took place in front of the Hershey store in Times Square.

School children and social justice activists, along with Kerry Kennedy, President of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, and Lee Cutler, Secretary Treasurer of New York State United Teachers Union, rallied to call on Hershey to eliminate forced, trafficked and child labor from its cocoa supply chain.

The reported:

Students from Public School 87, Brooklyn International High School and Benedictine Academy from Elizabeth, N.J., were among the 150 demonstrators, yelling, “Hershey’s: tastes good, feels bad.” The students have been studying global issues and were there as part of a field trip.

When reached for comment, Hershey’s spokesman, Kirt Saville, did not address the company’s child labor practices, but said it has been committed for the past 50 years to improving the West African cocoa communities.

One thing is certain; Hershey lags behind its competitors when it comes to taking responsibility for the communities from which it sources cocoa.

The rally was a spirited success, as you can probably tell from the pictures. If you’d like to see more pics from the event, check out these Flickr pages:


Kerry Kennedy speaking out against Hershey

TODAY is the day to ask Hershey to end child labor and trafficking in the cocoa fields!

If EACH ONE OF YOU takes just 5 minutes to take action, together, we will flood Hershey’s with thousands of calls and emails, and we will make a difference.

Please speak out in solidarity with youth, concerned consumers, human rights advocate Kerry Kennedy, and NY State United Teachers Secretary-Treasurer Lee Cutler rallying with Global Exchange and our campaign partners at the Hershey Store in NYC’s Times Square today, as part of our Raise the Bar Hershey Campaign.


  1. Join others and Call Hershey TODAY (details below)
  2. Sign the petition to Hershey here
  3. Share and Retweet this Post
  4. Check out rally updates and pics on Twitter:  #HersheyGoFair

Almost ten years after companies like Hershey committed to ending child labor, forced labor and trafficking in their supply chains, these abuses continue in West Africa. Hershey is currently lagging behind its competitors in using cocoa that has been certified by independent third parties to comply with international labor rights standards.  World Day Against Child Labor is this weekend, and we’re calling on Hershey to do more to stop these abuses by committing to sourcing Fair Trade cocoa.

Number to Dial: +1-800-468-1714, Option “0”
Back-up Number: 717-534-4200

Suggested Call-in Script:

Hi, my name is ___ and I’m calling from ___. I am a huge fan of [insert your favorite HERSHEY candy here]*. I’m calling today because I want Hershey to raise the bar for responsible cocoa sourcing and commit to begin using Fair Trade Certified cocoa for my favorite chocolate. Ten years after Hershey committed to ending child labor, forced labor and trafficking in its cocoa, the abuses continue and Hershey needs to do more to end this exploitation. While I cannot be in New York City today, I support those who are rallying outside the Hershey store in Times Square. Thank you for your time!

If you are not a fan of Hershey’s chocolate, you can leave out the sentence about your favorite candy bar and say “my family member’s favorite bar is___” or “I used to like___, but I am discouraged from eating it since it’s not Fair Trade“ or whatever reflects how you feel!

Before you call: you may want to review our consumer’s report in which we address the issues in their supply chain and how they can change them here.

For more information on the campaign, please visit

Human Rights Awards Fair Trade Models Jocelyn, Rae, and Zarah

Here’s your roundup of Fair Trade news and updates:


The Ninth Annual Human Rights Awards was a great success!  The sold out event included inspirational speeches by three incredible honorees, witty banter by event emcees Ben & Jerry (in tuxedos!), and the participation of the entire Global Exchange staff, board, and community. Guests in attendance included folks from Ben & Jerry’s, Dr. Bronner’s, Fair Trade USA, Thanksgiving Coffee, and World of Good.

Check out photos from the evening!

Models donned Fair Trade outfits & accessories and “Ask Me About My Outfit” sashes or swatches. They strutted their stuff on the big stage to showcase some of the Fair Trade goodies being auctioned off during the silent auction, while guests enjoyed Fair Trade Certified Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream.

All in all, the 9th annual Human Rights Awards Gala was a great time. If you weren’t able to make it, we hope to see you there next year!


The “Raise the Bar, Hershey!” Campaign is planning a rally in front of the Hershey Store in Times Square happening Wed! Kerry Kennedy, President, Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, and Lee Cutler, Secretary Treasurer of New York State United Teachers Union, will both be there, along with school children and social justice, Fair Trade, labor rights, and faith based organization representatives. They’ll be calling on Hershey to stop child labor in its cocoa and start supporting Fair Trade.

When: Wed, June 8th 2011, 10:30am – 12:30pm
Where: In front of the Hershey Store in Times Square (1593 Broadway; Northwest corner of Broadway and 48th Street, Manhattan)
RSVP: On Facebook

Follow Rally Updates: Follow the hashtag #HersheyGoFair on Twitter for live tweets from folks at the rally (including us @gxfairtrade!)

More info:
Read the Op-ed Why I am Marching at Hershey’s Store in Times Square by Ariana Taveras, a student in the class of 2012 at the Benedictine Academy in Elizabeth, New Jersey
Check out the post Kerry Kennedy to Join Youth in Rally to Demand That Hershey ‘Raise the Bar’ to find out more details about the rally, including who will be there.
Sign the petition telling Hershey Interim CEO John Bilbrey to Raise the Bar Hershey!


The first ever Fair Trade Towns & Universities National Conference is happening this Fall. The conference will bring together Fair Trade campaign organizers who are promoting and advancing Fair Trade in their communities and on campuses across the country.

When: Friday-Sunday, September 9-11, 2011
Where: The Hub Conference Center, Philadelphia, PA
Registration: FREE!
More Info:


Hear from pastors, theologians, Fair Trade experts and the Fair Trade Towns leadership on why and how churches are becoming powerful partners in the Fair Trade movement.
When: Tuesday, June 14 • 1:00pm – 2:00pm
Register: Here

Coldplay's Chris Martin


Check back here on our Fair Trade blog for more Fair Trade News Round-Ups…your one-stop shop for current Fair Trade news and events. And if you’ve got big Fair Trade news to share, email me!

With World Day Against Child Labor right around the corner, students,  social justice leaders including Kerry Kennedy, and groups will rally in front of the Hershey Store in Times Square on June 8, 2011 to call on Hershey to eliminate forced, trafficked and child labor from its cocoa supply chain.

Despite almost ten years of commitments from Hershey and other major chocolate companies to take responsibility for their cocoa supply chains and eliminate child labor, significant problems persist. Abusive child labor, trafficking, and forced labor continue to plague the West African cocoa industry. The farmers in this region, which supplies the majority of the world’s cocoa, live in poverty, while major chocolate corporations continue to amass large profits.

Hershey lags behind its competitors when it comes to taking responsibility for the communities from which it sources cocoa. Hershey has no policies in place to purchase cocoa that has been produced without the use of labor exploitation, and the company has consistently refused to provide public information about its cocoa sources.

Will you join us in calling on Hershey to do more to stop child labor, forced labor, and trafficking in its cocoa supply chain and to start sourcing Fair Trade Certified cocoa?


When: June 8 2011, 10:30am – 12:30pm
Where: In front of the Hershey Store in Times Square (1593 Broadway; Northwest corner of Broadway and 48th Street, Manhattan)

Who will be there:

  • The Raise the Bar, Hershey campaign members (Global Exchange, Green America and the International Labor Rights Forum)
  • Kerry Kennedy, President, Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights
  • Lee Cutler – Secretary Treasurer of New York State United Teachers Union
  • Marie Hogan – 11 year old Global Exchange Sweet Smarts SF chapter leader, along with local NYC-based students
  • Social justice, Fair Trade, labor rights, and faith based organization

RSVP on Facebook


Take other actions to hold major chocolate corporations accountable

Together, we can speak up for children in West Africa and demand that Hershey and the rest of the cocoa industry commit to Fair Trade Certified cocoa.

Global Exchange Fair Trade Campaign Director Adrienne Fitch Frankel making a Fair Trade s'more

Are you ready for some summer fun? We Want More from our S’mores is back, to help you kick off your summer in a fun, Fair Trade style. After all, s’mores are a classic, delicious summer treat.

Please help the Raise the Bar Hershey Campaign reach the goal of making at least 1,500 Fair Trade s’mores.

Your tasty s’mores will help raise awareness and hold Hershey accountable for failing to eliminate child and forced labor from its supply chain and encourage the company to achieve Fair Trade certification.

How to participate
Plan your s’more event: Savor the chocolatey, gooey pleasure of Fair Trade s’mores anytime from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day weekend. Include Fair Trade s’mores in your barbeques and campfires this summer. Or plan a We Want More from Our S’mores event with friends, family, coworkers, or the neighborhood.
Let the s’mores be counted! Count the s’mores you eat and register them online.
During your s’mores gathering, collect signatures on petitions asking Hershey to step up and become Fair Trade Certified.
Screen the Dark Side of Chocolate. Before or after you make your tasty Fair Trade s’mores, show this film to educate others about child labor in the cocoa fields and explain why it is so important to choose Fair Trade Certified chocolate.

Check out this video from Fair Trade s’mores cookin a few years back:

For more info about the We Want More From our S’Mores Campaign: Visit our website, thanks!

Have you heard about Raise the Bar Hershey Campaign’s upcoming rally in NYC’s Times Square happening on Wednesday June 8th?

The purpose of this rally is clear; to encourage Hershey to go Fair Trade.

You are invited to join us at this rally in front of the Hershey Store and ask Hershey to make the switch to Fair Trade.


When: June 8 2011, 10:30am – 12:30pm
Where: In front of the Hershey Store in Times Square
1593 Broadway (Northwest corner of Broadway and 48th Street, Manhattan)

Who will be there: We are reaching out to local NYC social justice groups, students, schools and faith groups that care about this issue. Raise the Bar Hershey Campaign groups (Green America, Global Exchange, International Labor Rights Forum) and our other allies will be there as well.

For up to date info about the rally visit or contact

To download the event flyer click here. (Great for printing out and sharing with others; 2 fliers per page)