Welcome to Schoolyard Chillies. You might have heard of us and been a previous customer, or this might be the first time you’ve visited our website. Either way, it’s worth sticking around as we’d like to share our story. We think it’s a good story.
We started out in 2016 with simple yet lofty aims. To work towards end the Worst Forms of Child Labour (WFCL) in Africa and ensure all children have a chance at going to school and getting an education.
Let’s talk about the Worst Forms of Child Labour. The term is a kind of catch-all for awful things that include child slavery, trafficking, debt bondage, forced labour, and serfdom. The children involved can be as young as five years old and up to 17. These children are frequently subject to abuse, malnutrition, and neglect. Many don’t see their mums, dads, brothers, sisters, and grandparents for years. Sometimes they never see them again.
In addition to the dangers of the actual work, they are pulled out of school to do it and miss out on their education.
Child labour is a significant problem in in Ghana. It affects around 2 million children, most commonly in either the farming or fishing industries. Child worker use machetes to cut brush, carry heavy loads for hours at a time, or dive in treacherous waters with knives to cut and free tangled nets.
So, why is child labour such a widespread issue? The answer is poverty. Families are often so poor that they are forced send their children to work so they can help support them. In other cases, children are sold to traffickers by family members. Because children miss out on school, the cycle of poverty continues.
We saw a way to try to fix this problem in the farming communities. If we could pay them a fair rate for their produce and offer increased financial security, farmers would not be forced to remove their children out of school and hire them out as expendable labour to larger land owners. And that is how Schoolyard Chillies began – a fair exchange of goods on condition that no child labour is used on any of our farms.
As the project grew, we found spotted other opportunities to ways to support our partners in Ghana. Farmers often struggle to farm efficiently. They lack knowledge, quality tools, and good fertilisers. Also, climate change is making crop yields less consistent. So, we decided set up the Ghanaian Chamber of Farmers (GCF).
The GCF is a membership organisation and it supports farmers by providing access to good quality seeds and fertilisers, and training to help farmers to adapt to the climate emergency. This helps them to grow better and become more professional. We also made membership to the GCF conditional. Farmers can only join if they ensure that no child labour will be used on any their farm.
Doesn’t this sound like a fair deal for everyone? We think so.
All of the chillies we use in every single Schoolyard Chillies product comes directly from GCF farmers in Ghana. Every penny we make from our sales goes back to Ghana. We hope that as the word spreads and people learn more about our story and get on board with what we’re trying to achieve.