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Craft work for a humanitarian purpose: Helping Cobalt Children

If you’ve come across the Sky News report: Meet Dorsen, who mines cobalt to make your smartphone work - you’ll know that the film has impact. Dorsen is 8, working a 12 hour day for as little as 8p. When filmed he hadn’t eaten for 2 days. He was in pain and exhausted. It seemed to be the worst day of his life - but it was just a normal day for him.

That film did something to me. I cobbled the website together: www.cobaltchildren.org and started campaigning for corporates to take action to help these children. The cobalt, mined in DR Congo, is used in rechargeable batteries to make smartphones, cameras, cars work. Companies such as Apple, Samsung, Daimler, Volkswagen, Sony - profit from cobalt mined by children, but make excuses so that they don’t take responsibility.

Anyway - while there’s a battle going on with corporates, even £1 makes a huge difference to a cobalt child. I’ve made contact with a charity called Kimbilio who support and nurture children escaping the streets and mines in DR Congo. I’m making fabric smartphone sleeves and 100% of any sales will be sent to help these kids. You can see the film on Facebook. Here’s the link. It’s had 44 million views, so people do care. Let’s hope the corporates also step up to help these children. https://www.facebook.com/skynews/videos/1659591590722098/

While I can try and empathise with these poor children and I completely respect what you’re doing- I feel like a lot of ‘donate x amount’ charities don’t fix the root of the problem. In fact- they often stop the companies who’re causing the problem from seeing the need to do anything about it in the first place.
You’re right- it needs to come from the source to fix the problem. People will buy smartphones, cars, cameras etc regardless. While people could donate thousands of pounds to help these poor kids- nothing will change on the surface and each day they will be doing the same job for 8p- everyone else will just be helping subsidise things by topping up their wage. While that’s a good thing straight away (helping avoid starvation/having somewhere to live etc)- it needs to move to lobbying the companies who’re taking advantage of these people in the first place. Yes- people could stop buying smartphones and cars etc, but they won’t. Certainly not on a scale big enough to make the companies do something about it.

It’s so sad that people are exploited in such ways- and videos like that do draw people’s attention to the problem as a lot of people have no idea (though a lot also turn a blind eye) but, the problem will never go away if people just donate money. It allows the companies to continue to get away with it because everyone who donates is picking up their slack.

I’m very much a believer in people should get paid what they’re worth. And mining for cobalt all day is certainly worth a lot more than 8p- especially given that the final product is being sold for more money than they will ever see in their lifetime.

It is heartbreaking. I can see why the video caused you to do something. Let’s hope the companies educate themselves and do something about it. And well done for acting!

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