After 60+ hours of travel, the 2018 Chocolate University Class arrived in Tanzania!! The final leg of the trip included a long bus ride to the remote village to meet our farmer partners and over the next few days we’ll be spending time inspecting and grading our next shipment of beans, sharing profits, tasting chocolate, and launching a couple of really special projects.
With the help of our Chocolate University Executive Director, Missy, and our Tanzania Field Rep., Sarahiner, our group of travelers split into 4 separate groups and visited each of the schools in the district where the Chocolate University Foundation sponsors Empowered Girls and Enlightened Boys clubs– nearly 600 students. We hosted “Straight Talk” sessions– conversations about sexual + reproductive health, agency, empowerment, and visioning + goal setting. Our amazing Chocolate University 2018 students participated in a panel-style discussion and fielded questions from the students, helped them fill out resource worksheets, and soaked up some inspiration and wisdom from the Tanzanian students. There was singing, dancing, laughter, and a few tears. We have so much to learn from this village community and have plans to host more “Straight Talk” sessions in the future.
Have you ever harvested cacao? Our Chocolate University 2018 students have! We spent a very special day working alongside our farmer partners this weekend on origin trip Tanzania. In small groups (plus our skilled Swahili translators), our students spent a morning in the homes of some cocoa co-op members–Gilbert, Mr Livingstone (and Mama Mpoki), and Potifer–and learning how to harvest pods in their shambas. We met their families, learned more about each other’s cultures, and enjoyed tea and snacks together. We learned a lot, but more importantly we deeply appreciated their radical hospitality.
The Chocolate University group supported our Mababu cocoa farmers in launching a preschool (“chekechea”) for young children in the village. You may recall we facilitated a Vision of Greatness with the farmers 4 years ago for their co-op. One of their Vision points was to support children in their community. This week while in the village, we raised a flag to dedicate the future site of the preschool. Even more excitingly, we hosted a day camp with nearly 300 preschool-age children of Mababu, to give them a taste of what the chekechea will be like.
At the conclusion of our 2018 origin trip, we gathered the co-op together for the final meeting of the week and shared profits with our Mababu farmer partners. First, some students addressed the group and shared their thoughts on their experience over the last week. We reviewed the profit share statement line by line, revenues and expenses, in Swahili and English. Then Shawn and Lawren handed over cash that the co-op will decide how to distribute and/or invest. Afterwards, the farmers bid us goodbye with a special song and dance as we boarded our coaster to head home.