The Cacao Project is turning two years old this year. Our team has nourished the project with helping hands and guidance, but we can take no more credit than that. The farmers are the real drivers of The Cacao Project, a collective dream come true.
About a two years ago we sat with this farming community and asked them what they wanted to do with the money they would receive from their cacao sales. Together, they decided they wanted electricity. Living high up in the mountains and working as long as the sun is up, their day ends as soon as the sun goes down. Meaning, the window of time the farmers have to spend time with their families with light is about 20 minutes per day. However, in order to get electricity installed, there needed to be a road leading up to the community where the equipment would arrive. Building a road would necessitate involvement from everyone in the community and collaboration with other organizations, creating opportunity. Building a road also means the community leaders needed to find the resources to start building.
Since it is an agricultural community, they have always needed access to the main highway to sell beans, corn, coffee and oranges. Due to the rain fall, a natural path ran through the community but it looked more like a dried, sometimes very muddy, river bed that occasionally filled with water. Prone to mudslides, the road is very dangerous to drive.
To begin the process, the community worked together to gain governmental approval to access materials to improve the road. The government agreed and provided about 10 tons of the clay from the mountains. With small tools and wheelbarrows, the community went to work cutting the river bed by hand and compacting the clay material to make the road. A small creek also crossed the rural road and the group began planning to construct a bridge to allow vehicles to pass. Four large concrete tubes were planted and the bridge was built from concrete. All of this was done by the hands of the farmers and their families.
The road is now accessible for vehicles to easily enter the community for the first time in their history.
Connection is everything to the farmers. Without the ability to connect with other communities, cacao buyers, and businesses, cyclical poverty will continue. This road that they created is a major part of the solution to lack of connection.