CACAO COLLECTIVE CREATION STORY
Ruk'u'x Ulew was founded in 2016 by Cecilia Mendoza, (pictured left) a Mayan mother of three. Cecilia was born and raised in San Marcos La Laguna, Lake Atitlán, Guatemala.
Cecilia use to run a small cafe in her village and many local women used to come and ask her for work, but she would sadly have to turn them away as she didn’t have the means to employ more women. Troubled by not being able to help the women in her town, she would pray to God and sit with the fire spirit and ask: “What is the road for me to take? How can I help these women who keep coming to my door asking for work? What can I do to give enough work to many women?” Cecilia use to prepare her own cacao for her family every Christmas & Easter with the highest quality cacao beans that she sourced from an organic family farm in Alta-Verapaz. Her friends and family would always compliment her on her delicious cacao. This gave Cecilia the courage to ask a few of the busy cafes in her village if they would be interested in selling her blocks of cacao. They agreed and the cacao not only sold out very fast, but people’s reaction to her cacao was overwhelmingly good and soon, she could hardly keep up with the orders. “The cacao spirit chose me”, Cecilia says, because she would quickly go from ordering 15 pounds of cacao beans, to 30 pounds, to 50 pounds, then big sacks to keep up with the demands, the orders just kept growing.
This meant that Cecilia was able to put her children and her closest family members to work, but soon she needed more women to help her process all the cacao beans! Her business very quickly grew to hiring 15 women. “It’s a dream for me”, says Cecilia “because, I asked God, please help me to help more women and so God sent me cacao”. Cecilia explains; “I love this work, the cacao is a teacher for me. It is not an obligation for me, it is a loving project. We don’t rush the process, we work with lots of patience and I explain the importance of this to all the women. Our customers tell us that the cacao has more than just cacao in it, our customers can feel our love in it.”
"Our abuelita (grandmother) Magdalena. In Mayan culture only the grandmothers wear this traditional head wrap which is known as a ‘liston’. Magdalena is 73 and loves helping her family peel cacao beans. She was born and raised in San Marcos La Laguna. She has given birth to 9 children, has 22 grand children and 4 great-grandchildren."