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Together we are strong

Our cacao forest in Nicaragua is a project close to our hearts. We not only want to protect a piece of nature, but also create future prospects for people in Nicaragua. The project is supported by family and friends from Nicaragua, Germany and all over the world.

Susanne – from capital market into the jungle

Looking back, the employment office couldn't have done a better job recommending a career after I graduated from high school. I should become a biology or social worker. Instead, I studied business administration and went into the financial market.

 

BUT at the age of 34 it was over. I moved out into the wide world, with consequences that were unimaginable at the time: On my travels, I was captivated by the joy of life and warmth of the Central Americans. I discovered my love for cocoa and for the forests and jungles of Central America, which are brimming with flora and fauna. I worked on cocoa plantations alongside local and indigenous peoples and eventually found a second family in Nicaragua.

On a spur of the moment I bought a piece of land on the remote Rio San Juan to plant cocoa there. This has now become a sustainable farm, which I continue to expand with my husband Julio in order to provide us and the people in the region with food and to create fairly paid work. In the end, instead of finances, interest in biology and working with people won out.

Susanne prepared for the plantation

Susanne on her way to the plantation

Julio – Nicaragua meets Germany

Julio fills the finished Bokashi compost into bags

Julio always lends a helping hand

As a true Nicaraguan, my husband Julio is used to hard work. He left school at the age of 13 because he saw no prospects in better education. Instead, he went to Costa Rica to make a living. He worked his way up from being a day laborer on a coffee plantation to becoming a foreman in heating, air conditioning and plumbing. With his salary he was able to build his own finca and a small livestock farm in Nicaragua. Today he is back in his homeland and looks after the common land together with me.

 

Over time, his perspective on many things has changed. By “Nicaraguan standards” he has become a real order fanatic. The paths on our facility, a proper tool shed – his idea! Julio also cares more about nature now. Wherever he can, he collects seeds, cuttings or plants for our garden and the cocoa forest. He was immediately enthusiastic about the idea of ​​a botanical garden. And he now prefers to protect the 10 hectares of forest on his finca instead of cutting them down for profit.

Don Cristóbal – loyal soul in our cacao forest

Finding a reliable, hard-working worker to support us on our farm was not that easy. Fortunately, after a few failures we came across Don Cristóbal, a real stroke of luck. He has a natural understanding of the interconnections of nature and the advantages of a species-rich ecosystem and has learned a lot with us about cocoa cultivation or the production of compost and natural insecticides. We have already benefited a lot from his craftsmanship in many projects, be it building a chicken coop, bridges or a shelter for our worm farm. For us he has now become part of the family and his stepson Daniel also finds a profitable living here from time to time.

Don Cristobal pfanting cacao trees

Don Cristóbal is always busy

Yorleni – creative executive officer

Yorleni painting

Without her it would be difficult to keep track. Thanks to the name tags that Yorleni designs for your trees, we can easily find them in the natural wilderness of the forest and assign them to their owners at any time. Yorleni decorates the names of our trees artfully with native flora and fauna such as heliconias, hummingbirds and butterflies. She also runs a small gift shop in "El Castillo" where she sells her cheerful artwork and handmade holiday souvenirs to tourists and locals.

Artist Yorleni at work

Family and friends – support from all over the world

In Nicaragua I found a second family in the people I live with. Doña Tina and her family gave me a home in and treated me, as if I was her own daughter. Fran always had food on the stove when she came back from the exhausting work on the plantation. Her husband Jairo, as a cacao expert, always had useful advice when it came the best planting period or the perfect compost. And his brother Marvin, owner of Hotel Grand River Lodge, offered me inexpensive accommodation in one of his cabañas for a long time. After I met my husband Julio, my mother-in-law Juliana and my sister-in-law Chila also take great care of me. Juliana knows a lot about cocoa and is happy to share her traditional knowledge about medicinal or other useful plants with me. Even though the people here have so little, they have so much to give. Everyone is very familiar with the local conditions, seems to know all of Nicaragua and always has a solution up their sleeve - even if that sometimes means "waiting and seeing".

 

And of course there are family and friends in Germany. Without their support we wouldn't be where we are now. You can only go to a foreign country alone with the security of being able to return at any time and be welcomed - come what may. My neighbors and professional colleagues were also involved right from the start and diligently collected donations for the village school and the preparation of the cocoa plantation. Many of them are also cocoa sponsors that regularly support our work. With their interest, enthusiasm and support, they still contribute a lot to the implementation of our project.

 

Thank you for your support!

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