Many of the children in the area where we source our Vietnamese cinnamon do not attend school simply because they live too far from them and have no way to get there and back everyday. We're helping these kids go to school through our Well Earth sustainable sourcing program.
Well Earth ensures that the production methods used to produce the botanicals we purchase are ethical, sustainable, and maintain the high quality standards expected from our co-op. The program also gives back to the communities where our botanicals are grown. So far, Well Earth has provided lodging and food for 475 children of the people who provide our high quality, sustainably sourced Vietnamese cinnamon — the cassia growers, the hired day laborers, the seed gatherers and other workers.
There are 12 schools in the four villages of this 190 square mile area. So far, the program has provided 64 dormitory-style bunk beds for children who stay at their schools during the week and subsidizes their daily meals.
Each bunk has a straw mat base that is covered by their roll-up bedding when it's time to sleep. Desktops are attached to the headboards, allowing each bunk to serve as an individual study station.
Our Well Earth program also provides funding for cafeteria tables, books and school supplies.
The schools represent dramatic change in the diverse Vietnamese society. They offer the opportunity for education and improved lives for the region's many ethnic groups. Some, like the Dao, were semi-nomadic just a few decades ago and are still adapting to the idea that education is important for every child. Just 20 years ago, it was rare to see girls older than 12 or 13 in school at all. Now, they are commonly among the 2% of students from the region who go on to study at a university.
The Vietnamese economy continues to grow at a breakneck speed. In the region we visited, the Vietnamese cinnamon industry is expanding as new markets re-discover this treasured spice. The schools are helping create a literate people who are better equipped to be a part of a modern and industrialized Vietnam.
The Vietnamese people have a number of expressions that, roughly translated, are variations on the notion that "tomorrow will be a little bit better." We're proud to be helping that come true for the communities that provide our Vietnamese cinnamon.
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