NEWBERRY — A few years ago Eddie Long had his eyes opened to what he calls modern day slavery, he said heard about it, but never realized how bad of an issue it really was.
“Came in all different forms, from bonded labor, to forced labor, sex trafficking, I was blown away that there are 27 million slaves today in our world,” Long said. “I heard stories from people who have been rescued from modern day slavery. As I learned more and more about it, it became less and less an issue, and more of a person, it had a name.”
Later on, Long would watch a film about extreme poverty, he said that prior to the film he never linked the two issues together.
“The film did have a hopeful message, in 1981 52 percent of the world lived on less than a dollar a day, by 2006 that number had been cut in half, the standard also changed from a dollar to two dollars a day,” he said. “Going at this rate, extreme poverty will be gone by 2035.”
At the end of the film, a family was shown where the father took out a loan to feed his family, in order to pay it back, he was employed at a rock quarry, but he wasn’t paid enough money to pay off the debt. His family had to live at the rock quarry and work off the debt, and Long said that is how modern day slavery happens.
“When he dies he will pass the debt on to his kids, when they die they’ll pass it on to their kids,” he said.
Later on, Long took a quiz online from a place called Made in a Free World, he put in all the products he consumes on a daily basis, and all the items he had in his household, and by the end of it the quiz tells you the “slaves” that you own.
“I couldn’t be complicit anymore. I searched the Internet for hours and hours, to figure out what I could do. I thought there has be something, I don’t want to contribute to the problem. It is really hard to tell if products we consume have slave labor in them. Everything we have is made out of something, the materials come from farmers, artisans and people,” Long said. “It is really hard to find where those supply chains come from, I searched for hours.”
Long eventually gave up, and asked God if he wanted him to do something, show him, because Long didn’t know what else to do.
“I got on Facebook, and an ad from a company Trade as One came up, it was about Fair Trade and I didn’t know exactly what it was,” Long said.
As it turns out, Fair Trade works to make sure products with their label are not made from slave labor.
“They make sure workers aren’t only paid fairly, but also help communities lift themselves out of poverty. People can get jobs and help provided for themselves,” Long said. “Coffee is a huge industry, second most traded commodity in the modern world, next to oil. The United States consumes a fifth of the world’s coffee.”
Long said Fair Trade cuts out many of the steps that brings coffee into the consumers hand. The chain starts with a small farmer, who is a part of a farmer cooperative, the coffee will then go directly to an exchange, who then sells it to a store, who in turn sells it to the consumer.
It is through this process Long is bringing a new business called Genesis to Newberry.
“Our vision is to enable people to do good in the world, both in their consumption of everyday goods, chocolate, tea, coffee, and in their production of the digital arts, that can be video, audio, photography and things like that. We are starting with the consumer side of Fair Trade,” Long said. “We would love for Newberry to become a Fair Trade town, want people to get signed up for subscriptions where we deliver you coffee for your business, church, office, on a monthly basis, or every other week. People are able to sign up for a subscription, deliver it at no charge, delivering locally in Newberry County. We are also opening a cafe next to Steven W’s.”
Long said they will also offer a locally roasted Fair Trade coffee, that will be roasted by Andrew Morris.
Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625 ext. 1867 or on Twitter @TheNBOnews.