Water for Life Group in front of Civilization Museum

Water for Life...for All study tour in Cameroon

In January 2016, 26 Barry Callebaut employees from around the world were invited to visit Cameroon, one of the cocoa origin countries where Barry Callebaut has implemented cocoa sustainability programs. The employees are part of the company’s initiative “Winning Together” aiming to engage employees in corporate social responsibility activities. The 26 Water for Life Champions participated in a week-long immersion experience in cocoa in Cameroon, with a special focus on water-related challenges and solutions in cocoa growing communities.

This is an excerpt of the travel diary of our Water for Life Champions: Meet Arrizqiya from Indonesia, Christina from Pennsylvania, Sarah from Ontario, Nova from Quebec and Iwona from Poland!

Starting with a tour back in Cameroon’s history

Sunday, the 26 Water for Life Champions started their study tour by visiting the Civilization Museum in Dschang.

Water champion Arrizqiya from Indonesia discovered Cameroon’s history: “ We saw the Civilization Museum and Traditional Chieftaincy in Foumban. A lot of interesting and unexpected historical information, such as the desire for power that has dominated the country’s history. “

Barry Callebaut Water for Life champions during Cameroon cocoa study tour - at the Civilization Museum in Dschang

Meeting proud cocoa farmers

Monday, the team visited a cocoa plantation near the village of Penja – for all Water for Life Champions this is the first time they touched a cocoa pod.

Christina from Pennsylvania felt the pride from both the production and plantation workers when discussing their roles in producing cocoa beans.  “I was astonished to see how much work goes into producing the cocoa we enjoy. I will appreciate eating chocolate even more.”

Barry Callebaut Water for Life champions during Cameroon cocoa study tour - visiting a cocoa farm in Penja

Learning about certification programs on-the-ground

Tuesday, the group met with cocoa farmers from the cooperative of Socoprocato. These farmers participate in Barry Callebaut’s sustainability program to produce and sell certified cocoa beans. The farmers told the visiting team about the certification programs and the training they receive, which help them improve their yields and their income.

Barry Callebaut Water for Life champions during Cameroon cocoa study tour - at the cocoa farmer cooperative Socoprocato

Witnessing the impact of water filters on the lives of cocoa families

The Water for Life group visited families who had received a water filter and witnessed first-hand what positive difference they make to the lives of all the family members.

Working with communities to provide clean water and basic health services is one of the core focus areas of Barry Callebaut's community development activities.

Barry Callebaut Water for Life champions during Cameroon cocoa study tour - water filters in cocoa families

Sarah from Ontario witnessed how important the water filter had become to a family : “To see the pride of the mother who installed a shelf for her filter was truly something. She had it custom built to fit the filter, a shelf for glasses and one for bottled water. For us it was very emotional to realize how the access to clear water is helping this community and what positive impacts it has on all of them.”

Barry Callebaut Water for Life champions during Cameroon cocoa study tour - water filter in cocoa family on custom-made shelf

Supporting primary schools through the distribution of school supplies

On Wednesday, the Water for Life Champions distributed school supplies at two primary schools. Supporting educational infrastructure is one of the four focus areas of Barry Callebaut’s Community Development program.

Barry Callebaut Water for Life champions during Cameroon cocoa study tour - distributing school supplies at primary school

Sarah was very touched by the visit of the school: "The experience for me in the classrooms was very emotional. As I handed one little boy two blue pens, he looked at me and said "Thank you", then kissed them and held them in his lap – it was a very precious gift for him. This made my heart melt."

Barry Callebaut Water for Life champions during Cameroon cocoa study tour - in primary school

Sarah continues: “As we were at the Biakoa's public school,  watching Marina, who runs the Water for Life program, with the school director was truly amazing. You can see the love and passion she has for this school and for the children and their families. The welcome at the primary school in Goura was equally touching. Then going into the classrooms to see the children,  to see the expressions on their faces, was something I will never forget.”

Barry Callebaut Water for Life champions during Cameroon cocoa study tour - at Bioka primary school

“I am proud of being part of Barry Callebaut…”

On Thursday, the Water for Life Champions attended a training about the cocoa sustainability program Cocoa Horizons.

Water for Life Champion Nova from Quebec recaps: “Everything we saw in the previous days, like the training given to cocoa farmers to increase their yields, the premiums paid under Rainforest Alliance  and Cocoa Horizons, the educative material we gave to children, the construction of schools, the water filters given to families, it all falls under Barry Callebaut’s sustainability program Cocoa Horizons and the industry’s CocoaAction strategy. All this to increase the sustainability of the cocoa supply chain and have a visible positive impact on communities here in Cameroon. I'm really proud of being part of Barry Callebaut and all these great initiatives!”

Barry Callebaut Community development in Cameroon

Iwona from Poland was also  impressed to see Barry Callebaut’s achievements: “I really appreciate that Barry Callebaut takes care of all these cocoa communities here – for education, health, and farmers practices. And the figures are impressive: a thousand farmers trained, 6 classes built, a thousand mosquito nets and 650 water filters distributed. Here on the ground it’s definitely making a change. Great job! I am proud that I am a member of such a valuable team.”

Barry Callebaut Water for Life champions during Cameroon cocoa study tour
Jens Rupp

Jens Rupp

Jens Rupp, Head Sustainability Communications

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+41 43 204 03 76
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