BRICKS TO BREAD COSTA RICA PROJECTS
SANDI CHANTO – LAS MELLIZAS
Las Mellizas de Sabalito is in the Coto Brus district of southern Costa Rica- a border community with the province of Chiriquí in Panama. It is peacefully located high in the mountains of Talamanca and is made of coffee producers, founded approximately 60 years ago. Among the major needs in the community is the lack of employment. The closest city is approximately 24 kilometers, making access to sustainable employment difficult. The most abundant employment opportunities are with local coffee plantations, picking coffee for minimum wage which only lasts about three months out of the year; October to December. There is little opportunity for women in this community, they most often work picking coffee or as in their homes attending to domestic chores. The oven space will also be utilized for meetings and activities, public or private, put on by businesses or institutions.
The Sandi Chanto Family consists of 12 ambitious families who all have a shared dream of starting their own family business. The Sandi Chanto neighborhood includes three generations of hard working farmers and housewives. They are families with limited resources, some of whom live only off the land or their pension income of $139 a monthly. They’ve managed to make ends meet in the past and continue to be creative, finding ways to make progress and dreams of providing a better life for their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A brick bread oven is an ideal opportunity for the family to provide for their community, share in their passions and continue their family legacy of entrepreneurial leadership.
Years ago, the family had a small family business making raw sugar from their locally grown sugar cane. When the sugar market crashed and the family expanded, they began to partial the land to their children and began planting coffee; selling their coffee to the local cooperative. More recently, a plague has affected their coffee production, a plague that is both costly to control and requires chemicals affecting their desire to maintain organic coffee.
With the entrepreneurial spirit embedded in the Sandi Chanto family genes and an ongoing need to find creative ways to support their families, the women began to sell tamales, pizzas, and breads door-to-door within the community. They reunite regularly to cook and bake together in a simple kitchen originally designed for their sugar business.
With the support of Bricks to Bread, the Sandi Chanto family has a beautiful brick bread oven and a new industrial kitchen where they will produce enough breads and pizzas to support the local demand. They will make and sell pizzas regularly and plan to expand the gathering space to share with the whole community; inviting all to come together, enjoy a cup of freshly brewed coffee and break bread together.