Carly leading the financial loss activity
The first few months of Peace Corps service are mostly spent getting to know your community members and learning what activities have the potential to work and which ones you shouldn't waste your time on. Although I've loved taking it slow for awhile, I am SO excited to really get to work and start planning activities.
Counting damaged cocoa pods for a cost analysis activity
Other than my community analysis meeting, my first actual activity was what I´ve been referring to as "Chocolate Day." It just so happens that the national Cocoa Coordinator is a neighboring volunteer, and she is awesome. Of course, this made it that much easier to plan a full day´s worth of activities revolving around chocolate. Have I mentioned recently that I love my job?
A few of the producers that were present...
And my pup, who is always present.
In the morning, Carly talked with a group of producers about small steps they can take to produce higher yields and improve their cocoa. Since I´m focusing on the business aspect of things, we also completed a little activity to find out how much money a particular farmer was losing due to a controllable fungus. The results were astounding- Over $2,000!
Although Carly had to leave shortly after our producers´ meeting to get back to her site, we continued the day with a baking class where we made brownies over a fogon- essentially a campfire type set-up that the majority of families use to cook with.
Some of the baking class attendees
Using only locally available ingredients, we made some prettttty awesome dulces if I do say so myself. Shortly after reaching for brownie #3 (or was it 4...) I realized that the attendees were being polite and holding back. Once I guiltily told them to pack some for their families though, it was like flies to a lightbulb. Though it was certainly a fun activity for the local women, I´m really trying to organize activities like this to also empower them and encourage them to think about alternatives to simply selling their cocoa beans unprocessed. After all, what tourist wouldn´t want a delicious, locally produced fudgey brownie?
Watching as these kids discovered the delicious world of brownie batter= Priceless
I would include pictures of our brownies... but they didn´t last that long :)