My Experience Volunteering at Chocal-a Cacao and Women’s Chocolate Cooperative

 

As we made the 40 minute drive to Altamira outside of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic to participate in our first *Fathom ‘Impact Activity’*, I couldn’t help but feel nervous. I had no idea what to expect. While there were plenty of interpreters, I don’t speak Spanish and that bothered me. How was I meant to connect with these people? And more importantly would we really even be making an impact?

 

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We were heading to Chocal-a Cacao and Women’s Chocolate Cooperative. This tiny organic chocolate factory does a lot for the women who run it. Not only does it allow them to earn a living but it gives them the opportunity to stay closer to home and to their families. They are able to avoid traveling several hours each day just to work. This project has already provided at least 30 jobs to this area.

 

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Me with one of the co-founders of Chocal

 

The women were very welcoming and seemed happy for us to be there. I was anxious to get to work.  While we did have the chance to see how the chocolate is molded (and of course try it for ourselves), we were really there to help with their productivity. We sorted thru beans and nibs and packaged products. This allowed the women time to focus on the process of actually making the chocolate.

 

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Travelers with Fathom have made such a huge impact on Chocal. In the time my group of approximately 30 were there, we were able to get several days worth of work done! In the 6 sailings to Puerto Plata, Fathom travelers have cleaned 1,679 pounds of nibs which equals 49,550 FINISHED chocolate bars. And have helped package and prepare 25,008 products for sale. This is incredible and far exceeds what I could have imagined the impact to be. This is only in 6 weeks. Think about what can happen in a year and beyond.

 

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I was concerned we wouldn’t really make a difference but I left Chocal feeling otherwise. It was sad saying goodbye to the beautiful women of this business. Their determination and hard work is truly inspiring. While we accomplished a great deal in just a couple of hours, my biggest disappointment was not being able to spend an entire day working along with them and learning each of their stories.

 

 

*This was a sponsored trip provided by Fathom Travel however all opinions are my own.* 

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