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All images provided by CARE & Cargill

The impact of the CARE and Cargill partnership goes beyond empowering cocoa farmers

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Cocoa, the key ingredient found in your favorite chocolate bar, has been a highly revered food product throughout human history. It’s been used for religious ceremonies in Peru, royal feasts in England and France, traded as currency for the ancient Mayans. And considering that many of us enjoy chocolate on a regular basis (mochas and candy bars, anyone?) it seems like that love is still going strong even today.

And if you are someone who looks forward to that sweet chocolate pick-me-up on a regular basis, you likely have the women of West Africa to thank.

Women like Barbara Sika Larweh, a mother of six who works as a cocoa farmer in Larwehkrom, a community located within the Sefwi Wiawso Municipality in the Western North Region of Ghana.

care, cargillMama Cash now empowers other women to gain independence

Nearly 60% of the world’s cocoa comes from both Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, where Barbara and other mothers make up over half of the labor force. These female cocoa farmers shoulder the same physical burden as their male counterparts—all while also running households and paying for their children to go to school. And yet, they typically don’t receive equal income. Nor do they have access to the resources that could help them achieve financial independence.

Thankfully, positive changes are taking place. Barbara’s story exemplifies the impact of programs offered by CARE and Cargill, such as Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA), which are small groups that offer low-interest loans to individuals living in poverty, helping them to build savings without going into devastating debt.

Through these initiatives, women, like Barbara, are equipped with vital knowledge like financial literacy to improve household incomes, sustainable agriculture practices that improve yields, and nutrition education to diversify their family’s diets.

“They came and trained me on the VSLA. I dedicated myself and volunteered so that I would be able to train my people, too,” Barbara explains.

Within the first year of using the programs, Barbara and the people she trained profited—earning her the nickname of “Mama Cash.”

This is no isolated event. In cocoa-growing communities supported by CARE and Cargill programming between 2019-2022, the number of households living below the national poverty line decreased by nearly 32% in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana - as a direct result of increasing and diversifying income through using these programs.

Like Barbara, who today is an executive member of the Community Development Committee, more than 2.4 million women have used their success as entrepreneurs to transform into leaders and decision-makers within their communities. Whether it’s giving most of their earnings back to their families, reducing child labor, or exponentially increasing overall farm yields, the rippling effect is profound.

The impact of the CARE and Cargill partnership goes beyond empowering cocoa farmers. The joint initiatives have fostered progress on complex global issues related to social justice, such as gender equality, climate change, and food security. By improving access to quality nutrition, water, and hygiene, the joint programs have positively influenced the cocoa communities’ well-being.

Suddenly there’s a lot more to think about the next time you eat a candy bar.

Find out more about the important partnership between CARE and Cargill here.

WSAZ's Tim Irr and Tori Yorgey.

Former “Saturday Night Live” star Tina Fey once said that live television will “never be perfect, but perfect is overrated. Perfect is boring on live TV."

Who knows that better than TV reporters, who are sent out to brave extreme weather events, interview members of the general public and get quotes from sweaty athletes on the sidelines.

TV reporters are trained to handle just about anything that comes their way, but I’m sure none of them have ever been trained to stay on the air after being blindsided by a car.


Tori Yorgey of NBC affiliate WSAZ was reporting about a water main break on the side of the road in Dunbar, West Virginia when she was struck by a car on live television. “Oh, my God! I just got hit by a car, but I’m OK," Yorgey told anchor Tim Irr.

Yorgey was knocked out of frame for a while but she regained composure and bragged that it wasn’t the first time it’s happened. "I actually got hit by a car in college just like that," she explained.

What makes Yorgey even more resilient is that she was all alone when it happened. She set up her own camera and had to put the shot back in order after the car plowed through.

Some people who saw the video thought that Irr’s reaction to his coworker being struck by a car was a little cold. But he later cleared things up by saying he wasn’t able to see her get hit by the car.

After finishing her report, Yorgey went to the hospital to be checked out and she's said to be doing fine.

Pope Francis in Prato, Italy.

One of the most powerful commandments attributed to Jesus Christ is to “love thy neighbor as thy would thyself.” These words are a lot easier to say than put into action. But the pandemic provides a perfect opportunity for people to do so.

The best way someone can show their love for themselves and their neighbors during the current crisis is to get a coronavirus vaccination. A vaccination helps people protect themselves by making them less likely to get the virus and face hospitalization. It also makes it less likely for them to spread the virus to others.

It also helps reduce the stress on our strained healthcare system and frontline workers.

Pope Francis stressed this point on Monday in a speech his advisors accredited to the Holy See, an event that lays out the Vatican’s foreign policy goals for the year.


Previously, the pope had called getting vaccinated an “act of love” and that it was “suicidal" to refuse a vaccine. In Catholicism, suicide is one of the worst acts a person can commit.

On Monday, he further pushed his followers to get vaccinated by referencing Christ’s call to “love thy neighbor” by saying that getting vaccinated shows “respect for the health of those around us. Health care is a moral obligation,” he asserted.

The pope also took dead aim at the politicians and opportunists who’ve spread misinformation about vaccines. “Frequently people let themselves be influenced by the ideology of the moment, often bolstered by baseless information or poorly documented facts,” he said, adding that people need a dose of “reality therapy.”

He made clear that vaccines are the most effective tools we have to combat the deadly virus.

“Vaccines are not a magical means of healing, yet surely they represent, in addition to other treatments that need to be developed, the most reasonable solution for the prevention of the disease,” he added.

The pope holds incredible sway over the 1.3 billion Catholics living around the world so it’s wonderful that he uses his pulpit to combat misinformation and to encourage people to look out for themselves and one another by getting vaccinated. That could be why Catholics have some of the highest percentages of vaccine acceptance among religious people.

A recent PRRI-IFYC survey found that 80% of U.S. Catholics support vaccination, with only 7% as "vaccine refusers."

That number runs counter to white evangelical Christians who are among the most vaccine-hesitant of all religious groups. Recent studies show that somewhere between 30 to 40% of them refuse to get vaccinated.

The discrepancy between two different groups of Christians shows the importance that religious leaders can have over their congregants. A study published by Deseret News found that “82% of religious attenders with pro-vaccine pastors are fully vaccinated, compared to 58% of religious attenders with faith leaders who are either anti-vax or avoid the topic of vaccines.”


U.S. speedskater Brittany Bowe.

Brittany Bowe, 33, couldn’t bear to go to the Beijing Winter Olympics without her “skatesister” Erin Jackson, 29, so she did one of the most generous things an athlete could ever imagine. She gave up her spot in the Olympics and gave it to her.

Jackson had an unfortunate bumble in the U.S. Olympic Speed Skating Trials in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on Friday in the 500-meter race. The misstep caused her to drop to third place on Team USA behind Bowe and second-place finisher Kimi Goetz.

Before the slip, Jackson was the No. 1 ranked skater in the event.


Only two U.S. women are guaranteed Olympic berths. Although there is a small chance that a third spot could be reallocated from another nation.

Bowe, who already qualified for the Olympics in the 1,000-meter and 1,500-meter thought Jackson deserved the spot more than she, so she relinquished it to her teammate.

“I didn’t want to have this moment without Erin out there,” Bowe said according to HuffPost. “I called her late this morning and said that I wanted to officially give her her spot. In my heart, there was never a question.”

“It’s the right thing to do,” Bowe told NBC Sports. “There’s not a doubt in my mind that she wouldn’t do the same thing for me.”

Jackson was moved by the selfless gesture. “I’m just incredibly grateful. Really humbled,” she said. Before she was given a spot on the team she was distraught over the misstep. “I couldn’t turn my brain off,” Jackson said. “It’s been really stressful, being in limbo for so long and just disappointed because I was really excited to show a good race.”

The Beijing Olympics will be the third for Bowe and second for Jackson, who became the first Black woman to make the U.S. Olympic long track speed skating team.

The two skaters are both from Ocala, Florida, and have forged a close bond over the years. They both started inline skating alongside three-time Olympian Joey Mantia.

“We have a photo of Erin standing between myself and Joey,” Bowe said, “and she comes up to maybe our chest. We go back very far.”

Bowe believes that her display of generosity is what the games are all about. “This is bigger than just me. This is the Olympic Games and it’s about Team USA and giving everybody the opportunity to showcase what they got,” she said.

Ultimately, Jackson hopes that this saga will end with the two of them winning medals together.

“I was kind of given this gift from a very close friend of mine,” Jackson said according to USA Today. “And it would be awesome for both of us to be able to stand on the top of the podium in our races and just kind of share that moment.”

The 2022 Winter Olympics will take place from February 4 to 20 in Beijing and venues near Yanqing and Chongli in the People's Republic of China.