Is there a child’s blood on your chocolate? Slavery is real.

Check the Choclate in your easter eggs. Is there a child’s blood on it?
“Slavery…I didn’t know about all these forms that existed. I think it’s largely because we
aren’t expecting it. It is hidden.
Generally people would not believe that it is possible under modern conditions. They would say ‘No, I think you
are making it all up’, because it’s just too incredible…”
Archbishop Desmond Tutu,
Hull, UK, 1999

For many people, the image that comes to mind when they hear the word slavery is the slavery of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. We think of the buying and selling of people, their shipment from one continent to another and the abolition of the trade in the early 1800s. Even if we know nothing about the slave trade, it is something we think of as part of our history rather than our present. But the reality is slavery continues TODAY.

Millions of men, women and children around the world are forced to lead lives as slaves. Although this exploitation is often not called slavery, the conditions are the same. People are sold like objects, forced to work for little or no pay and are at the mercy of their ’employers’.

Slavery exists today despite the fact that it is banned in most of the countries where it is practised. It is also prohibited by the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 1956 UN Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery. Women from eastern Europe are bonded into prostitution, children are trafficked between West African countries and men are forced to work as slaves on Brazilian agricultural estates. Contemporary slavery takes various forms and affects people of all ages, sex and race.

What is slavery?

Common characteristics distinguish slavery from other human rights violations. A slave is:

forced to work — through mental or physical threat;

owned or controlled by an ’employer’, usually through mental or physical abuse or threatened abuse;

dehumanised, treated as a commodity or bought and sold as ‘property’;

physically constrained or has restrictions placed on his/her freedom of movement.

What types of slavery exist today?

Bonded labour affects millions of people around the world. People become bonded labourers by taking or being tricked into taking a loan for as little as the cost of medicine for a sick child. To repay the debt, many are forced to work long hours, seven days a week, up to 365 days a year. They receive basic food and shelter as ‘payment’ for their work, but may never pay off the loan, which can be passed down for generations.

Early and forced marriage affects women and girls who are married without choice and are forced into lives of servitude often accompanied by physical violence.

Forced labour affects people who are illegally recruited by individuals, governments or political parties and forced to work — usually under threat of violence or other penalties.

Slavery by descent is where people are either born into a slave class or are from a ‘group’ that society views as suited to being used as slave labour.

Trafficking involves the transport and/or trade of people — women, children and men — from one area to another for the purpose of forcing them into slavery conditions.

Worst forms of child labour affects an estimated 126 million** children around the world in work that is harmful to their health and welfare.

Visit the site and help stop these crimes.

Can this be true:


A day in the life of an ordinary saint.

Rodgers is a seven year old, mentally and physically challenged boy who can’t talk or walk. His mother died at birth and when Mary found him, his only company was a dog. He needed residential care but was neither an orphan or under five and so didn’t qualify for any care.
Mary rattlled some heads together and Beartha appeared, volunteered, took him in and found a carer.
Now read the recent mails.

From: thenjiwe ngoma []
Sent: 02 March 2007 11:07
Subject: Dear Mary
Greetings from Malawi.Hope you are fine,am fine with the family
Good news,Rodger can now alter a word go-go which means grandmother and tries to stand for three times. i just praise God for that,we are encouraged that one day he will stand and walk alone.
The bad news is that Rodgers sponsor, Chris and Paulilne of Rafiki Foundation are no longer working with Rafiki, they have gone back home(USA).
Am wishing you all the best as you will be returning to MAlawi-mzuzu soon.

your friend,
Bertha Ng;oma(mrs) …

John Coyne wrote:
Dear Bertha,
We are delighted to hear of Rodgers’ progress and saddened to hear about his sponsors.
Mary will be happy to support him until we get back again on April 11, hopefully, God willing.
Please let us know the financial requirements and we will try and get the money to you, via Harrisen Amin in SJOG.
We really appreciate your interest and concern.
God Bless you.
From John,
For your friend Mary Coyne

Hope you are alright together with the family.Am fine with my family despite i lost my aunt last week.
I praise the Lord for Rodgers health which is improving daily I know that God has a purpose for him.And about his basic needs are
1:clothes, shoes, those that you bought are worn out.
2:With june coming,he’ll need another blanket,sweater
3:and basic needs such as soap,creams.

In addtion i wanted to add a rise of salary to the lady who is looking after him beacause she is doing a great job.But i can not manage because i have to pay school fees for 13 children(5 mine,4 little orphans,2 nieces and 3 nephews).
I know Mary that i have asjked too much but whatever you help is ok, i will appreciate very much. May God Bless you.

Thank You,
Your friend Bertha


Credit where Credit is due

On Thursday last we visited St Anthony’s and Claddagh Credit Union in Galway City at the invitation of longtime friend Peadar ó hIcí, who has been a voluntary worker with the Union for longer than any of us care to remenber.
What we found was a wonderful example of co operative community togetherness. A financial co – operative, owned and controlled by its members, serving the financial needs of their community on a not for profit basis. Everything about the experience was inspiring. They have a state of the art complex in Westside Shopping Centre. From the front of the house business end to the offices and boardroom and their enterprise centre, everything says “professional”, but all of this has been developed from a spirit of of mutuality, volunteerism, self help and not for-profit philosophy, using their collective wisdom and business acumen for the good of their members. This is volunteerism at its absolute best. All I can say is “what a crew”.
Each year the committee and members agree to made a donation to worthwhile charitable causes. This year they donated €5000 each to the Alan Kearns Charity , working in Zambia, Friends of Albania (Galway), a group of surgeons, doctors and nurses working in Albania and ourselves Wells for Zoe, working in Malawi.
We are extremely thankful to the people of this Galway group for this huge cheque, and for showing no bias against outsiders from Roscommon and Mayo!!. I felt very much at home there, not only because of the warm welcome but also because I spent four years of my college life, just accross the field in Rahoon Road.
This more than generous gift will be all used to promote the Credit Union ethos in some of the poorest, most remote areas in the world. We will be giving a jump start to rural villagers who, for the most part can’t read or write and most of whom have never had money, ever, but who have a spirit we can only dream of nowadays, where paid work is a rarity and survival is the best they can pray for.
Much of the microfinance will go to women and because these women rarely own more than one or two pots or pans, these loans are character-based rather than collateral-based. A group of five women all vouch for each other. The women are not only individually responsible, but their group is also liable for the loan. The first enterprises will be around small farming projects. The pictures, later, will show their, our and your success story.

Special Olympics success for “Mary’s Children” at St John of God, Mzuzu

News from Ellen at St John Of God, Mzuzu.

Special Olympic Games – National Event

This year the competitions for all the three regions took place here in Mzuzu – Upper stadium on 4th March 2007. It was a preparation for the World Special Olympic games to be held in China on 10th October 2007.

All centres for special Olympics from the Southern and Northern region came including, St. Andrews High School, Feed the Children (Cheshire Homes) and Lilongwe SOS Village.

After the competition three athletes from our school were each awarded with a gold medal and one athlete with silver medal. The rest received ribbons.

Out of nine Malawian athletes to represent us in China during World Special Olympic games competition this year, October 2007, we are happy to report that two of them are Children from St. John of God. One is a girl, Sakira Mfune from our resource unit and Robert Chirambo from Umoza Program. Here, our centre included children from Special School, Umoza and Institute of Vocational Training. Only those with Mental Retardation (MR) were eligible. Since special Olympics are games for people with intellectual disabilities from 8 years to 55 years old.

Everything in preparation for their journey except passport will be provided by Special Olympics in Malawi. However our two athletes Sakina and Robert have no passports so they need well wishers to assist them as soon as possible to raise money for their passport fee between March and April in order not to miss the chance on 10th October 2007. Their registration forms with photographs have already been sent to China.

(Is’nt this great news – John?)

Visit to St Joseph’s, Presentation College, Lucan

Today, we met with and spoke to fifth and sixth year Geography students as a result of the interest their teacher, Sean Casey, has in our project We are very appreciative of the great welcome and help we got from everyone.
Our idea was to show a relationship between our work in Malawi and their Geography programme in terms of concept and content.
Mary spoke on her experiences in the St John of God school for the mentally challenged and on her work with the street children while I spoke on trying to achieve sustainable progress in remote rural villages, on gender issues, poverty and water.
We hope our visit has afforded the girls a small glimpse of the harsh realities of the day to day struggles of subsistence farmers, the gender issues and the real sins of injustice in a world where we in Ireland have everything while others have nothing.
Thanks to all concerned for the opportunity and the interest.

Our friend Sue…. Transforming Lives

Sue Cansdale is another wonder woman in my life

Dear Friends and Well-wishers,

Just to bring you up to date with progress. We tried the condensed version of Transforming Lives, but it was immediately clear that it no longer had the ‘pick me up and read me’ appeal of the original version. The pages of solid grey type with reduced margins were very off-putting. We did not want to lose any of the stories either, because each one is important in showing the breadth of transplantation.

We asked if we could raise the difference in the cost of producing the 100 page original version as against 64 pages. (21 tons of books instead of 13 tons!!!)

Jacqueline Gold has kindly agreed to print 40,000 copies of the original version free of charge instead of 50,000 of the slimmed down version she offered on the programme. That really is terrific news.

The books will be printed at the end of March to fit in with other printing commitments Broglia Press has.

Fergussons of Blyth, the haulage company, have offered to collect the books from Poole in Dorset and bring them up to Northumberland where they can store them in essential, clean, dry conditions for a few months. That is a wonderful offer and a big relief.

I am now working on creating a distribution network.

More news as it happens…. Sue

March 8, feast of St John of God

Just received an email greeting from Br Aidan and the family of St John of God in Mzuzu, Malawi.
Mary and I are so happy to be considered part of this family as we follow in the steps of St John of God, who was a miracle worker in his time and whose followers worldwide continue this great work today with those who are mentally challenged.
We greet you all, worldwide, on this festive day.