In Virunga, Eastern Congo, where Original Beans has been developing (organic) cacao farming among thousands of farmers since 2008, 2018 has brought an exceptionally good harvest for the Cru Virunga and Femmes de Virunga chocolates.
The exceptional Congolese men and women of our local NGO, IDAD, have trained and equipped hundreds more women for beekeeping, textile making, and other microeconomic activities that offer incomes to make the women independent and self-determined. And under Original Beans’ One Bar : One Tree programme, dozens of new nurseries have been set up and 2500 family members are benefitting directly.
Alas, among the villagers hundred and more have been killed by militias in the ongoing strive for resources, power and ideologies in Eastern Congo.
Most dramatically, on 1 August 2018, the Ministry of Health of the Democratic Republic of the Congo declared an outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Virunga region. Already one hundred inhabitants and four medical staff members have died from this terrible disease.
Now, Ebola is threatening the lives of our cacao farmers and their families. Their remote villages remain forsaken of any help. Here, the lack of medical staff, medication, and protective gear prohibits any kind of prevention, let alone dealing with Ebola patients.
Many villagers are making sense of the disease in traditional ways, explaining it as a result of witchcraft and so they don’t expect that gatherings during market days can be potentially deadly.
As Steve McAndrew of the International Red Cross told us, access and acceptance in the communities is very difficult for international organisations and our contribution is vital.
So we are including Ebola education in our regular farmer trainings and village classes. And we are organising a large campaign that includes radio broadcasts and educative posters, and the installation of hand wash kits at important public venues in the villages.
Our customers, have contributed to this campaign with your donations in the last weeks of 2018. We have been able to double our Ebola campaign budget for 2019 and will make the most of the year, for our farmers, customers and a more sustainable world.