In the United States, apples rule. They are grown in all 50 states – red, green and golden, just waiting for us to take a bite. We eat apple pie, applesauce and apple salad, and drink apple cider. In fact, every American consumes, on average, 46 pounds of apples a year.
But in many other countries, it’s all about mangos. In fact, ten times more mangos are consumed worldwide than apples.
Why are we telling you about mangos? Well, our goal at REI is building people to build nations – and in Indonesia, mangos have a starring role in accomplishing that goal.
This island nation produces more than 2.2 million tons of mangos every year – but this exceptional crop means oversupply, thousands of tons of waste, and falling prices. As a result, the daily wage for picking mangos is $1. Just a dollar a day for hours and hours of backbreaking work.
Worn and barefoot, Toyo climbs a rocky path to pick mangos. After working under the hot sun to collect 150 pounds in his basket, he lifts them to his back and makes his way back down the path. “I don’t understand why I never see success,” he says. “I work hard and am not wasteful.”
But REI sees potential in this abundance of mangos, developing the technology and processes to turn the fruit into an in-demand product enjoyed year-round – SunREI Dried Mango Slices. We hire local men and women, train and equip them, and pay them a fair wage that far exceeds what they could earn in other local jobs. We offer them regular work and a future.
Through SunREI, hard-working villagers like Toyo are able to earn enough to provide the basic needs for their families – food, an education, housing, clothing, and medical care.
Tony stopped by SunREI recently on his way home from a day labor job making tile. “I want to work with you,” he announced with hope in his voice. His goal? Steady employment where he can work daily, and not have to scrounge for another job when there is no work for tile-makers. He got the job!
Dewi, the daughter of one of SunREI’s employees, was doing well in high school but begged for after-school tutoring. “I could be the best student in the class!” she exclaimed. Her father’s work at SunREI paid enough to provide the education Dewi longed for, and today she attends university where she is studying accounting — possibly the key for her family to end generations of poverty.
Toyo, Tony and Dewi – just three of the people who are already benefitting from REI’s work in Indonesia – More jobs, more income, more hope – that’s our dream for hard-working families in Indonesia.