Origin Trip #44: Mababu, Tanzania- 2019

 Mababu, Tanzania

“This years’ profit share was one of our biggest ever because it was a great year for sales of chocolate made with their beans. We always couple the profit share with tasting chocolate, which Lawren and I hauled in our carry-ons. The farmers loved the new Dark Chocolate + Avocado Bar (“parachichi” in Swahili!) made with their beans, as well as our Chocolate Covered Malt Balls.“ - Shawn

Mababu, Tanzania

“This year my husband, Scott, was able to travel with us. It was extremely special to host a session with him for 200+ Empowered Girls and Enlightened Boys about healthy relationships.

We discussed topics like respecting yourself and your partner, setting healthy boundaries, choosing someone who supports your dreams and being your own support system above all else. We fielded astute questions from these bright students for hours past our allotted time, until our conversation spilled out onto the road.I look at these students and know: our planet is going to be OK with them as our future.” - Lawren

Mababu, Tanzania

“This month marks the three-year workiversary of our Tanzania Field Representative, Saraphiner. In a great circle of events she, herself, is a graduate of Empowered Girls. Saraphiner manages our Empowered Girls and Enlightened Boys Clubs, works with our farmer partners weekly on cocoa bean maintenance and has been overseeing the creation of the Chekechea we’re building in partnership with our farmer partners. In short, she’s a force and it’s been an honor to watch her grow in this role.” - Lawren  

Mababu, Tanzania

“This year, we won a medal from the Academy of Chocolate for our Dark Chocolate + Peppermint Bar, made with our Tanzania cocoa beans. As a principle, we always share these awards with our farmer partners– we wouldn’t win them if it weren’t for their outstanding cocoa beans. At the conclusion of our profit share meeting, we presented the farmers with a banner recognizing this award and ballpoint pens engraved with the honor.” -Shawn

Mababu, Tanzania

“If you’ve followed us for a while, then you’re familiar with the story of my friend, Twawbwike, whom I met on my first visit to Tanzania in 2014. Twabi has overcome adversity unlike any I have known, and she rose to become not only the top girl at her school… but the top girl at school EVER, in the history of its existence. She also became president of the chapter of Empowered Girls at her school. She’s now thriving at university in Dodoma and hopes to work in community development when she graduates. Each year she accompanies us to Mababu village to work with our farmer partners for the week, and it’s always the highlight of my trip. She is a light.” -Lawren

Mababu, Tanzania

“We were able to spend more time than ever with our farmer partners in their homes and shambas. We inspected some trees, discussed certain pests and fungi they’ve been dealing with, celebrated the electricity some have been able to bring to their homes (part of the co-op’s Vision plan my dad and I helped them write back in 2014) and shared snacks in their kitchens. We also visited two separate farmers who had recently lost loved ones and paid our respects (called "pole” in Swahili). One of the farmers was a widow, and I was particularly moved when Mama Mpoki (the Chairwoman of the group we work with) explained that the co-op decided a few years ago to extend membership to the widows of former members, as long as they wished to carry on the cocoa harvesting.“ -Lawren

Mababu, Tanzania

"On this trip, we were able to witness the immense progress on a very special project: a Chekechea (preschool) that will begin educating 300 kids in January. This is a project initiated and owned by our farmer partners, and our Chocolate University Foundation has funded the construction and start-up costs. The farmers are providing all operational funding and management of the school. As something that we’ve been working on with the farmers for over a year, it was an emotional experience to see the actual building, which is being built brick-by-brick by folks in the village. It’s truly a community effort. Students are beginning to register soon, and I hope to be back for the grand opening of the school in January.” -Shawn

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