We've been getting our bananas from Central and South America for many years. Why wouldn't we – the climate is ideal and the bananas are some of the tastiest in the world! But that's not the whole story. The key to delicious, responsibly produced fruit is an effective partnership with the local grower community.
What Makes a Community?
Together, with our longtime partner Unibán – the largest banana co-operative in the world – and its social foundation Fundación Unibán, we are supporting grower communities in the Colombian regions of Urabá and Magdalena.
We're dedicated to local projects driven by local needs, helping banana workers build up their communities so that people of all ages can get together, learn and celebrate shared interests and ambitions. And every time you buy a Fyffes Colombian banana, you're helping to make that possible.
What Is the "IVAN DARIO" Project?
As part of this long-term commitment with Unibán, we've been working with local people in Urabá to develop the IVAN DARIO project, a comprehensive community initiative that focuses exactly on the needs of the people living in this area. To be precise: 148 families and around 740 people benefit from this project.
A brand-new, state of the art playground has been built, meaning that children can have fun and play together safely, developing social skills that contribute to healthy adult relationships. And importantly, the new play area is located close to families' homes, meaning mom and dad can keep a close eye on their little ones while they play!
An outdoor fitness track next to the playground offers a range of equipment that is free, and easy to use. Exercising together is a great way to socialize and meet new people at all ages – not to mention being great for your health! The idea is to promote long-term healthy habits that help the community to thrive.
As well as this, the community center works with the National Service of Learning (SENA) – a national public entity whose mission is to invest in the social and technical development of Colombian communities – to offer training in cosmetology, child care, to name a few. This partnership provides women in the area the opportunity to develop different skills, which allow them to generate an additional income for the household.
So What Do They Think?
Diana Cecilia Arcila Vega, who works with Fundación Uniban and coordinated the IVAN DARIO program says: "The foundation worked closely with members of the community from the start to make sure we were responding to their needs and providing something that would be genuinely useful. They told us they wanted an outdoor fitness space, community rooms, and of course, a playground for the children! It was important that everybody contributed to the project, from concepts to implementation, so the community took ownership of the project. The hard work has really paid off!"
Living in the new area, Claudia Zapata David is a huge fan of the IVAN DARIO facilities, saying: "The new playground is perfect, as the children can play together right next to our houses. It's also a space for the whole family to enjoy – we have a great time – sitting, chatting, laughing, playing chess!"
Joan Roa Garrido is a dance teacher who comes to the new center: "The children love coming to dance class – you can see how proud they are when performing in front of their family and friends. The center has given everyone a place to integrate with each other, have fun and share special experiences. It works really well!"
As well as dancing, the children adore the new playground, and it's not hard to see why. With colorful slides, swings and ultra-modern climbing frames, it's playtime heaven. Rosa is 11 years old, both of her parents work on the banana farms. "The best time to come is just after school”, she says. “I look after my younger siblings, so we come together to play, have fun and spend time with friends."
The community center has been well received by its members and is already helping them to generate their own business.
Angela Maria Hoyos Guzman is a student at the SENA classes, and says: "I've been training hard to improve my skills, with the aim of improving my income. I work as a pedicurist and manicurist and it's going really well – it's easy to see the rewards of the classes already. The ultimate goal is to have a large salon with comfortable chairs for all my clients!"