The Power of One!

Human trafficking and slavery still exists today, even in Australia. It involved an act of recruiting, transporting, transferring, harbouring or receiving a person through use of force, coercion or other means for the purpose of exploitation. People are trafficked for sexual servitude, forced labour, forced and servile marriages, domestic servitude and organ transplants. It is, of course, a crime against humanity and is a global problem as every country is affected by human trafficking, whether as a country of source, transit or destination. Ambassador Luis C. deBaca, the Director of the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, at a Vatican conference on May 18th, 2011, stated that, “estimates of the problem of modern slavery today run as high as 27 million people.”

One hidden way in which we unwittingly contribute to this problem is by buying products from companies that use slave labour to enable them to sell their products at cheep and competitive prices. It is a huge problem, and it can seem daunting or impossible to make any difference for justice.

Helen Keller once said, “You are one. You are only one. But you are still one! You cannot do everything, but you can do something. You must not fail to do the something you can do.” One such person, who showed up the power of one, is Melbourne child care worker Morgan Rayner who started a Change.org petition that grew to 110,000 supporters and won an incredible victory.

Just months ago, major chocolate companies Ferrero and Lindt were refusing to make a public commitment to eradicating child labour in their supply chains. They hadn’t budged despite years of pressure – in fact, they were the only two global chocolate brands who were yet to publicly act on the issue.

Morgan Rayner launched the Change.org petition just days before Easter, calling for a public commitment to a child slave free supply chain of cocoa. Her petition took off and in less than four days grew to 110,000 signatures around the world. It sparked a social media storm, and soon senior executives from both Lindt and Ferrero reached out directly to Morgan.

Within weeks, both companies had committed to 100% audited cocoa supply chains by 2020, ensuring an unprecedented commitment to wiping out child labour in the production of their chocolate.

Of course groups like ‘Stop the Traffic’ deserve a huge amount of credit for their long and sustained work on this campaign. Their work, together with the amazing surge of energy from Morgan’s petition comprehensively demonstrated the public’s desire for these chocolate companies to make this move.

Morgan’s experience shows the amazing ability of one person to take a small but powerful action, and spark a huge movement for change. You can do the same, if you have an issue concerning your local community or of international concern by going to Change.org and starting a petition. You must not fail to do the something you can do.

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About Passionist JPIC Australia

I am a priest with the Passionist Congregation and a part of our Australian Province which includes Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Vietnam. I have been ordained since December of 1992. I was born in the Philippines, though am from Spanish decent. I came to Australia in 1972 with my family when I was 11 years old, and we settled in Brisbane. That is where I did the rest of my growing up. On completing high school, I went to Queensland University where I studied for 4 years, completing a B.Sc. with a major in Microbiology. The following year I decided to enter into the Passionist Congregation to study for the priesthood. I trained for 9 years, and have been a priest for 25 years. In my time as a priest I have been Director of the Passionist Family Group Movement in Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland; conducted over 400 Parish Missions all around Australia and New Zealand, but particularly in Victoria and Western Australia; worked in adult faith education, Sacramental preparation for children and parents; Hospital chaplaincy; High school chaplaincy, in-services and retreats. In the year 200 I became engaged in developing young adult retreat teams and training them to carry on our high school retreat programs. I am also chair of our Province’s committee for Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation (JPIC). I am also a member of ACRATH (Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans).
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