Empowering Dreams in Colima, Mexico: How GROW and Project Amigo are Transforming Lives Through Education

Transforming Lives Through Powerful Partnerships

In the heart of Mexico, Project Amigo, a remarkable nonprofit, is leaving a lasting impact by annually supporting over 400 students from elementary to university levels in Colima, Mexico. Among these remarkable individuals are the GROW students, embodying the transformative power of education, innovation, and social responsibility. The profound influence of the GROW program isn’t confined to banana sales alone; it’s evident in the positive growth of each student it touches. We take immense pride in knowing that the proceeds from our GROW banana sales play a crucial role in supporting exceptional organizations like Project Amigo. Year after year, witnessing the incredible effects of this program continues to inspire us.

In 2005, we embarked on the GROW initiative with a vision that extended beyond benefiting banana farm workers; it aimed to uplift the entire community. Our initial partnership with Project Amigo marked the inception of our GROW journey. In the midst of Colima’s impoverished neighborhoods, families with children found a glimmer of hope through GROW. Through various avenues, including education, dental and vision support, access to clean drinking water, affordable milk for children, and opportunities for small business owners, GROW has been the catalyst for a positive transformation throughout these communities.

Educational Triumphs for our Scholars

This year, the GROW Educational Program celebrated the graduation of eight students across various academic levels. These remarkable individuals serve as living proof of the program’s unwavering commitment to nurturing young minds. Their accomplishments have left an indelible mark at the University of Colima, with GROW graduates excelling in diverse fields like Architecture, Law, Economics, and Primary Education.

Looking ahead to the 2023-2024 school year, we enthusiastically welcomed 21 new faces into our scholarship program. Each newcomer received a backpack filled with essential school supplies, symbolizing a bright path ahead.

In addition to our new scholars, we continue to provide unwavering support to our existing students, many of whom have achieved academic success beyond their families’ wildest dreams. Their journey is a testament to the hope and opportunity that GROW brings to their lives.

Our new scholars, ready for the school year ahead with their new backpacks.

A Lasting Difference On Future Generations

We celebrate the journey of these remarkable students and are grateful for the incredible impact our GROW program is creating. We look forward to a promising future where dreams are nurtured, lives are transformed, and communities are uplifted through education and compassion, forging pathways to a brighter future one box of GROW bananas at a time.

GROW’s Remarkable Impact in Guayaquil, Ecuador in Partnership with Children International

Transforming Lives Through Powerful Partnerships

In our relentless pursuit of transforming the lives of vulnerable children and youth through our GROW program, we are proud to share the resounding success of Children International, a nonprofit organization in Guayaquil, Ecuador that our GROW funds help aid. With every box of GROW bananas sold, proceeds are distributed to different social responsibility initiatives, Children International being one of them. They have been able to provide thousands of children and adolescents with access to critical medical and dental care in Guayaquil, empowering them with the tools to lead healthier and happier lives. It is exciting to see their tremendous growth last year and be able to say we played a helping hand in supporting this amazing organization.

Optimizing Healthcare Access

Last year proved the impact communities can make when they join hands. Through Children International’s Medical Services Program, they provided basic medical services to every child and adolescent in the programs. This included crucial medical exams, life-saving medicines, and essential supplies, ensuring they received the care they deserved. In total, they facilitated an impressive 17,843 dental exams and 7,014 health services paid for outside of the program through referrals.

The Telehealth Revolution

One of the highlights of their program’s success lies in their innovative use of telehealth consultations. Through this technology, they were able to deliver 15,974 telehealth consultations, bridging the gap between children and specialized health services. Telehealth not only improved access to care but also allowed them to address medical concerns promptly, providing children with the support they needed.

Program Success Is In the Numbers

Their dedication to sustainable change forged strong partnerships with local government health care providers. By working together, they ensured that families were well-informed about external health services available to them. This partnership approach yielded remarkable results, with 44% of those seeking healthcare services receiving help from the State, and 41% accessing services provided by Children International.

Children at a Health Festival

Empowering Communities Through “Health Festivals”

Commitment to empowering communities extended beyond immediate medical care. Children International firmly believes that knowledge is a powerful tool for change. As part of their program, they implemented strategies and events to share vital health information, called health festivals. These health festivals served as a platform to educate families about nutrition, healthy habits, and illness prevention, with 3,587 in-person services conducted to further reinforce this knowledge.

Developing Safe Environments for Teens and Pre-Teens

Addressing the comprehensive well-being of the children and youth remained a top priority. The Youth Health Program played a pivotal role in supporting youth aged 10 to 18 years, promoting their socio-emotional development in safe environments. Through this program, they provided education on reproductive health, access to services, and effective strategies to reduce alcohol, tobacco, and drug use.

A Lasting Difference On Future Generations

The success of the Medical Services Program is a heartwarming testament to the incredible impact our GROW program can have on communities in need. Through your invaluable support, Children’s International has made a lasting difference in the lives of vulnerable children and youth. Their commitment to providing essential medical care, embracing innovative approaches like telehealth, and fostering sustainable change through partnerships continues to yield positive results, and we can’t wait to see their continued growth over the years. Together, we are empowering the next generation to thrive, building healthier communities and a brighter future for these children.

Unveiling Our Carlos Cortes Scholarship Recipient’s Inspiring Journey

Carmen at the lab, doing what she loves most.

The Scholarship Program

At Organics Unlimited, we are dedicated to not only delivering the finest bananas but also fostering a community committed to social responsibility, fair trade, and sustainability. The Carlos Cortes Scholarship honors the work and memory of Organic Banana Pioneer, Carlos Cortes Sr, and is awarded to an individual whose journey embodies the values of commitment to social responsibility, fair trade, and sustainability while pursuing higher education in the food sector. Today, we are thrilled to introduce you to Carmen Leticia Hidalgo Mujica, the first Carlos Cortes Scholarship Recipient, an exceptional individual whose journey embodies these values while championing innovation in the food industry.

A Journey Rooted in Science and Sustainability

From her early fascination with science to becoming a patent-holder and groundbreaking food industry innovator, Carmen’s journey is a testament to the power of passion, education, and transformative ideas. Her career is anchored in sustainability and driven by her curiosity to make a positive impact.

Pioneering in Food Chemistry and Quality with Fair Trade Ingredients

With a deep-seated passion for science, she embarked on the path of becoming a chemical laboratory technician during her high school years. Her journey into food science was a natural evolution, aligning her scientific curiosity with her commitment to fair trade and sustainability.
“Though I studied a diverse array of subjects while pursing my degree, Food Quality Assurance, Food Product Innovation, and Nutrition were the subjects that most caught my attention because I came to believe that they constitute the central axis of the food industry.”

Transforming Ideas into Sustainable Solutions

Her commitment to sustainability and fair trade flourished during her undergraduate years when she developed an edible coating derived from shrimp processing waste to extend the shelf-life of fresh fruit products. This innovation not only showcased Carmen’s scientific prowess but also demonstrated her dedication to minimizing waste and optimizing resources in the food industry. Her achievement culminated in a patent registered in Mexico, a testament to her ability to turn groundbreaking ideas into sustainable solutions.

Carmen relaxing by the lake.

Pursuing Excellence: A Postgraduate Journey in Sustainability

Carmen’s journey now leads her to the postgraduate program in Food Quality and Innovation at the University of Leeds. With courses focused on Food Product Development and Nutrient & Food Biochemical Structure and Function, she is poised to refine her expertise in sustainable practices further. The university’s commitment to sustainability aligns seamlessly with her values, ensuring that her education goes beyond theory, manifesting as impactful, eco-conscious actions.

Championing Positive Change for Sustainable Practices

What sets Carmen apart is her unwavering commitment to societal well-being and sustainable practices. Her vision extends beyond innovative products to addressing pressing public health issues and promoting sustainable consumption. She notes the juxtaposition of a country plagued by food related health problems while having a wealth of endemic superfoods hidden in plain sight.

“In 2019, Unilever published a list of the ‘Future 50 Foods’ chosen for their high nutritional value, relative environmental impact, and flavour among other factors. I was astonished to see many staples of Mexican cuisine on the list which were largely missing their great potential. I would like to focus my attention on the problem of obesity by providing healthier food options.”

Her mission to combat obesity and elevate Mexican superfoods aligns harmoniously with our ethos of fostering sustainable, fair trade practices that benefit both consumers and communities.

A Revolution for a Greener Tomorrow

Through her scientific acumen, industry experience, and academic pursuits, Carmen aspires to revolutionize the food industry’s sustainable landscape.

“The synergy between my previous professional experience and the knowledge acquired during this prestigious postgraduate program will provide me with everything I need to create nutritious products using Mexican superfood ingredients to combat a range of public health problems while introducing new and exciting consumer experiences to revolutionize the food industry for a new generation.”

A Promise for Sustainable Transformation

At Organics Unlimited, we take immense pride in supporting and celebrating the journey of this visionary individual. Her story is a testament to the transformative power of education, innovation, and sustainable practices. As she embarks on this new chapter at the University of Leeds, we eagerly anticipate the far-reaching impact of her efforts and her steadfast dedication to a greener, more sustainable world.

Together, we forge a path toward a future where innovation, education, sustainability, and social responsibility coalesce to shape a more sustainable and equitable world through the realm of food.

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