We love chocolate ice cream: Phish Food, Chocolate Fudge brownie (now in both dairy & vegan friendly versions), the list goes on! And part of the reason we love our chocolate ice cream is because the cocoa that we use to make it is Fairtrade. Recently our friends at the Fairtrade Foundation went on a visit to the farmers’ cooperatives that Ben & Jerry’s support through Fairtrade cocoa. We wanted to share one of the amazing stories they brought back – the story of a woman called Pauline.
For more than 15 years, Pauline has been a member of CAPRESSA in Cote d’Ivoire, one of the cooperatives that Ben & Jerry’s support through Fairtrade cocoa. Pauline has three children: a girl aged 21 and two boys aged 20 and 18. In Pauline’s community, land rights pass down along male relatives; and so when her husband died it was her uncle who inherited her farm, not Pauline. Fortunately, her mother was able to give her a small plot of land. By cultivating cocoa on it, Pauline learnt about Fairtrade and saw the positive impacts it was having on people around her – so she decided to join too.
The Fairtrade Premium has provided many things for Pauline, but perhaps the most impactful change has been access to an education through literacy classes for women in the cooperative.
“I attend the classes to learn literacy. Before we were a part of Fairtrade, we would never have been able to learn how to read, and never had the opportunity to learn how to write. It is Fairtrade that has opened our eyes. Before, all I knew was cocoa.”
CAPRESSA oversee the farmers growing the cocoa, looking at the way they harvest, process the cocoa and manage the seasons. Pauline now considers herself a bit of an expert; she trains, supports and monitors farmers’ progress, teaching better practices to producers. Pauline also sits on the security council at the cooperative and works to inspire single mothers who are members. “Before, there were women who would not know how to speak before many people. But now they are at school and speaking in front of lots of people. Today, they are learning.”
We’re happy to say that Pauline’s story doesn’t stop there. She has purchased land with her Fairtrade Premium, saving little by little, and now she has started saving to build her own house.
Ben & Jerry’s support Pauline’s cooperative, plus a couple of others in the nearby area that produce Fairtrade cocoa. So next time you’re spooning a tub of chocolate fudge brownie, remember Pauline, and that by buying Fairtrade products you’re supporting Pauline and people like her to live better lives