BRICKS TO BREAD COSTA RICA PROJECTS

Sandi Chanto -- Las Mellizas

THE TOWN

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 FAMILY

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.

LIVES CHANGED

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.

BRICKS TO BREAD COSTA RICA PROJECTS

Naitami -- Bribri

THE TOWN

Bribri is located on the South-East side of the country along Panama. To travel to this remote location, you must embark on a motorized canoe that will take you up the Telire river to reach your final destination.

THE WOMEN'S GROUP

Nestled in the middle of the tropical moist forests of the Talamancan mountain range near Panama and the Caribbean, the Bribri tribe are known as Costa Rica’s “hidden people.” Their isolated society allows them to retain Bribri culture, ethnicity and religion. They continue to live a permaculture life with a symbiotic relationship with nature, living in harmony with the land, growing what they eat, fishing and hunting. The majority live with running water in open air housing, growing cacao, bananas, and plantain for personal consumption and to sell. With a matrilineal social structure, that is, a child’s clan is determined by the clan his or her mother belongs to, women have a very important place in Bribri society. They are the only ones that can inherit land and prepare the sacred cacao.

LIVES CHANGED

Since the completion of the oven, the women have started a baking schedule of every other week. They sell about 50-60 breads putting their money back into the womens association. In addition, their business plan provides an opportunity for individuals in the womens group to use the oven to support their families; the only requirement is that they provide their own materials.

The women have also used their seed funding to invest in baking classes. Together, they learned how to bake a variety of breads including, guayaba turnovers, french baguettes, pizzas, and much more! The baker traveled from outside of the community making this a very special occasion for the Naitami womens group. They are motivated and excited to continue learning and baking for their community.

THE TOWN

Bribri is located on the South-East side of the country along Panama. To travel to this remote location, you must embark on a motorized canoe that will take you up the Telire river to reach your final destination.

THE WOMEN'S GROUP

Nestled in the middle of the tropical moist forests of the Talamancan mountain range near Panama and the Caribbean, the Bribri tribe are known as Costa Rica’s “hidden people.” Their isolated society allows them to retain Bribri culture, ethnicity and religion. They continue to live a permaculture life with a symbiotic relationship with nature, living in harmony with the land, growing what they eat, fishing and hunting. The majority live with running water in open air housing, growing cacao, bananas, and plantain for personal consumption and to sell. With a matrilineal social structure, that is, a child’s clan is determined by the clan his or her mother belongs to, women have a very important place in Bribri society. They are the only ones that can inherit land and prepare the sacred cacao.

LIVES CHANGED

Since the completion of the oven, the women have started a baking schedule of every other week. They sell about 50-60 breads putting their money back into the womens association. In addition, their business plan provides an opportunity for individuals in the womens group to use the oven to support their families; the only requirement is that they provide their own materials.

The women have also used their seed funding to invest in baking classes. Together, they learned how to bake a variety of breads including, guayaba turnovers, french baguettes, pizzas, and much more! The baker traveled from outside of the community making this a very special occasion for the Naitami womens group. They are motivated and excited to continue learning and baking for their community.

BRICKS TO BREAD COSTA RICA PROJECTS

Daysi -- Sarapiquí

THE TOWN

Daysi lives in the City of Horquetas located in the district of Sarapiquí in the province of Heredia.

THE FAMILY

Sra. Daysi Sandoval Hernandez

Vanessa Talavera (20 years)

Katherine Talavera (15 years)

Christopher Talavera (11 years)

Jose Talavera (Infant, Grandson)

LIVES CHANGED

Daysi is a widow and a mother of four and she is also providing for a brand new grandson. She used to live in San Marcos de Cutris, but moved after her husband lost his battle with leukemia so she could be closer to her mother and sister.

Daysi is the sole provider for her family. She does small sewing projects in order to get by; making roughly $200 a month. Daysi is an immigrant from Nicarague and has experience with baking and selling bread. In Nicaragua her mother had a mud oven and baked bread to sell. Daysi spent part of her childhood selling her mother’s bread to their community.

Talavera Family Updates

July Build Recap Josie Kietzmann

BRICKS TO BREAD COSTA RICA PROJECTS

San Marcos

THE TOWN

San Marcos de Cutris is a rural town in the Northern Zone of Costa Rica. Located 30 kilometers down a long, winding dirt road, it is unmistakably an agricultural community; the majority of the estimated 400 people who live in San Marcos, and in the surrounding towns, work on family farms or at local pineapple plantations. Days are either long and hot or wet and rainy in this beautiful blend of abundant farms and rain forests. Statistically, the Northern Zone is one of the most marginalized and impoverished regions of Costa Rica. In this region, there are also very few opportunities for women to financially contribute or support their families.

THE FAMILY

Perez matriarch, Cristina, creates beautiful artisanal woven crafts and plants an array of orchids on her property. At the time the bread oven was built she raised chickens and ducks in order to sell their eggs and meat. Unfortunately, since then a large industry moved in which can sell their animals and eggs at a lower price. Prior to 2012 her husband, Perez, took care of a large forest reserve that has since been purchased by another large corporation and closed. Two of their sons work long, hard hours in the local fields of nearby pineapple plantations. Their adult daughter, Laura, who had previously worked as a nanny in San Jose, now lives at home and helps with the family chores.

LIVES CHANGED

Cristina and Laura are two of the few lucky women who are able to provide something most women can’t. The Pérez family loves their oven. They bake on the weekends, heating the oven up to 600 degrees to bake sweet breads. They make over 800 empanadas, cinnamon & pineapple rolls, corn biscochos and other basic breads each time they fire up the oven. They take special orders for pizzas, cakes, doughnuts and specialty breads, selling to neighbors and nearby farms. They currently have a 50% profit margin, earning roughly $50-70 each time they bake. Their long-term goal is to have a food license with a local brand that will allow them to sell and distribute to more communities, local stores and cafeterias with demand high enough to bake at least three times a week ($7,700 annually). With the average income in San Marcos being $3.00 an hour, earning more than $6,500/year would be a considerable achievement for the Pérez women. Without this opportunity it is hard to say how the Pérez Family would make ends meet.

The oven has also become a directional marker and a community gathering point. Every Christmas Cristina and Laura host a Christmas party for the children in the community.

Perez Family Updates

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