My name is Charito …

Hello! I am Charito.

I was born in the Pachiza district. When I was an eleven-year-old girl, I used to visit my grandparents at the Alto Huayabamba Valley. In the community of Dos de Mayo we grew corn, bananas and cassava. We also raised farmyard animals. Life had much to do with nature then. When I turned 25, I married Oswaldo and went to live at Santa Rosa. I am the mother of three children.

Suddenly, drug trafficking and terrorism crept into our lives. We all started to cultivate coca for the narcos. We made money but fear was ever-present. All this would quickly come to an end : the 90’s ended the drug trafficking and, although it may sound positive, the whole valley sank into extreme poverty. These years were very hard on us: corn was sold for 100 soles per ton ($30) and bananas for 1.50 a bunch of them (50 cts).

The end of the 90’s brought alternative development projects, replacing coca crops with cocoa trees. This marked the beginning of a new life for my family. Since we did not have money to pay salary, the choba choba was common practice (collaborative farming and economy). We used to work from 6am till 6pm in all weather conditions and often hungry. We have suffered a lot until we saw at last our first cocoa production. From this moment our quality of life started to slowly improve which allowed me to raise my children.

Thanks to the cocoa, I made new national and international friends. All this support that we have been receiving during the last 15 years makes me feel so glad. We also founded FUNDAVI, an organization whose objective is to preserve our forests.

One day, among all these new friends, Eric and Christoph jumped into our lives. After travelling a few times to Huayabamba, they became our brothers and we founded together the Choba Choba project. They trust us and we trust them. This is undoubtedly the best collective project and a second major change for us. Choba Choba has turned upside down the professional relationship that we had accepted for years. Choba Choba has brought us the wind of change and values our know-how. I am convinced that we will get very far. Our voice is now taken into account in the chocolate industry.

Rosario "Charito" Paima Mendoza

 - My name is Charito …