Project Helps Young Female Migrants Towards a Sweeter Future - Gaia Education
Following article is written by Gaia Education.
Project Helps Young Female Migrants Towards a Sweeter Future.
The Youthful Herbal Chocolate project is a transformative partnership of Gaia Education, Lush, Passwork, L’Arcolaio, RSF Social Finance, Global Whole Being Fund and Antica Pasticciera Corsino based in Sicily. The project aims to build the capacity of young migrant women to create a new life for themselves through acquiring practical skills in the traditional art of organic chocolate making, social communications and business production.
Between January 2017 and September 2018 nearly 220,000 refugees and migrants escaping war, poverty, political instability and climate impact have arrived into the Mediterranean (IOM 2018). Sicily is one of the most active landing points in Europe: over 16,000 registered refugees have arrived in Sicily since January 2018. Some of the most vulnerable people forced to take this dangerous journey across the Mediterranean are young women. The Youthful Herbal Chocolate project provides an opportunity for women, with otherwise uncertain futures by encouraging an environment in which they can learn, grow and thrive.
As the project has evolved the women have worked through several key milestones, each one bringing them closer to collaboratively producing a successful chocolate brand. The first milestone concerned with the social component (building community and embracing diversity) taught valuable skills such as deep listening and inclusive decision making. This first milestone also encouraged a sense of community, helping the young migrants feel more a part of their new environment.
Later Milestones, focused on identifying medicinal and aromatic herbs, becoming acquainted with the physical process of chocolate making and exploring ways to combine the two. The women produced chocolate prototypes using local organic herbs and inspired by traditional recipes. Whilst creating the physical product, the women also made a workable business plan, assessing costs that had to be taken into consideration, calculating a breaking point and pricing the chocolate accordingly.
To refine the final products, the women took part in technical sessions at a 150-year-old family run pastry shop, Antica Pasticciera Corsino. Using only the best local ingredients, the participants refined recipes and created their first chocolate bars in six different combinations: three white chocolate and three dark. The final stage in the chocolate production was to produce a brand that both represents their wishes and resonates with consumers.
The women’s final product, Courage Chocolate, designed, produced and packaged by them, was trailed at the Lush Showcase in Manchester, September 2018 and sold out. The overwhelming success of Courage Chocolate in Manchester means now the project and the women can move onto the next stage of their journey, maintaining a successful business for a brighter future.