Enroute to Côte d’Ivoire

It is 14:11 local time and I am flying at 36,000 feet directly over Algiers on an Air France 777. In a few hours, the next phase of my journey will officially begin – Africa… Côte d’Ivoire!

I have spent the last week learning about UTZ Certified. The mission, the people, the successes and challenges. Overall, I am incredibly impressed with their story. At their core, they are all about the farmers. I grew up on a farm in Georgia. The farmers – they are why I am here. I want to know their story. Who are they? What does a normal day entail for them? And what about the children? Their education opportunities? Do they want to be just like Mommy and Daddy?

Ironically as I was taking my malaria medication this morning, I saw a CNN story on the news about a malaria vaccine. The story stated that over 600,000 people die each year in sub-saharan Africa. The majority of them are children. I’ve been away from Lewis and Grayson, my boys, for two weeks. To think that hundreds of thousands of children die from mosquito bites every year is sobering. As an American with an abundance of everything, I’m inspired that the work I’m doing could contribute to better lives for these children. At the same time I feel a sense of guilt and wonder if I am ready for this?  We will see.

3 thoughts on “Enroute to Côte d’Ivoire

  1. David H Deans

    Chris, I just read the press release about your visit. What a wonderful opportunity.

    Here’s something for you to consider. Think like a storyteller (not a Mars employee) as you write your reports from Cote d’Ivoire. Don’t just tell the stories of what you see and hear, explore the back-stories of the people that you meet.

    What do I mean by backstory? More details here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Back_story

  2. Denise

    Chris, what an awesome opportunity. I have heard stories about African cocoa farmers who barely subsist from the income they earn. For many of them, farming cocoa was a family business, but many say the younger folks are no longer interested and are walking away from the farms simply because the wages are only enough to keep them poor. Is it really true that a that the cost of a candy bar in the U.S. at the corner store is what a cocoa farmer in Africa makes in a day? I look forward to following your blog and hope that you will follow David Dean’s advice and write like a storyteller. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Randall

    Fantastic to hear of your journey so far and putting in perspective how we take for granted certain aspects of our lives. Looking forward to reading more of your experience and the difference you are making. Truly inspiring!!


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