Is chocolate your guilty pleasure?

Abdul is 10 years old.  While many children his age are in school, Abdul spends his days harvesting a bean that is an essential ingredient to a symbol of decadence, love, and happiness in the western world. But to him, it represents pain, toil, and sadness.

Abdul is a child slave working on a cocoa farm in Cote D’Ivoire -- where 35 percent of the world’s cocoa originates -- to make the chocolate you and I love.  Abdul has never tasted chocolate. He says he does not even know how cocoa beans are used.

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    Millions of Melkas

    More than 60 percent of Ethiopian girls will be married before they are 17. It's a startling fact.

    But when we see and hear the story of a girl who was forced into marriage when she was just 14 years old, statistics are transformed from mere numbers to a face. To a voice. To reality.

    Meet Melka, a 20-year-old Ethiopian woman who was married off by her parents at age 14. Now, through a World Vision program, Melka shares her story and teaches young girls about their rights in an effort to prevent the perpetuation of child marriage in her community.

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      Participating in protection

      Editor's note: The following is a message that was shared with our staff around the world from Kevin Jenkins, president of World Vision International. As we share it here, we hope you find it as intriguing and worthwhile as we do.

      What helps children to prepare for -- and cope successfully with -- disasters?

      Why not ask them?

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        Hard facts about labor trafficking

        When I was 15 years old, I got my first job as a lifeguard. Before I started, I had to obtain a work permit with my parents' consent and the consultation of my school. There were strict rules governing the hours between which I was allowed to work, as well as how many hours I was allowed to work per week while school was in session. All of these regulations were in place because I was a minor.

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          Birth registration: The first step in child protection

          Editor's note: Birth registration -- documentation that ensures the government knows you exist -- is a growing issue worldwide, especially in fragile states where governments are either unable or unwilling to implement effective birth registration policies.

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            Cartoon wisdom

            This balloon is a symbol of the sorrows a teenage girl is letting go after being rescued from a life of sexual exploitation. She now lives at World Vision's trauma recovery center in Phnom Penh, and is starting to heal. (Sopheak Kong/WV/2009)

            One of my eccentric hobbies is discovering theological insights from animated cartoons. A favorite is “Road Runner.” The dastardly coyote is always devising ever-more fantastic means to capture the elusive bird, but his wicked schemes invariably and hilariously backfire, causing maximum pain and humiliation for the coyote.

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              Why registration matters: Children are cared for and protected

              Editor's note: This is the last of four posts that will relate to World Vision's child well-being aspirations. Aspiration #4: Children are cared for, protected, and participating It’s the middle of the night in the Albanian capital city of Tirana. Romeo looks into the policemen’s eyes. He tells them his name. They go to look him up. They find no record of little Romeo. They don’t know where he was born, who his parents are, or how old he really is.

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