Our Beginning

Five years ago, I went to Ecuador  for the first time to volunteer on a childhood malnutrition survey. Since then, I have  returned several times to help address other problems–like water quality issues and improve river access to the village for the indigenous Chachi people who  live by the Cayapas River in northern Ecuador. Numbering only about 5,000, the Chachi are marginalized and poor and eke out a living by subsistence agriculture and fishing. We want to work together in partnership to build a chocolate cooperative to produce and export their single-source chocolate. 

We determined that poor water quality likely contributed to significant occurrence of childhood malnutrition in the village
Before the project, villagers had to climb from the river to the village.
We completed a small project to build a stone based approach to the village

During my many visits as I worked alongside the Chachi, I learned that cacao is the main source of income for everyone that in their communities.  However, because they lacked a facility to properly ferment and dry the cacao, they were forced to rely on middlemen to sell their product. The reliance on middlemen combined with a poorly developed market resulted in a continued cycle of poverty.  We took action by building a new drying structure and encouraging the villagers to participate in government-sponsored training on production techniques to improve their skills.