Question of the day: How do your consumer choices affect the ethical decisions of businesses and the global distribution of wealth?

Quote of the day: “No enterprise can exist for itself alone. It ministers to some great need, it performs some great service, not for itself, but for others. Or failing therein, it ceases to be profitable and ceases to exist. ”– Calvin Coolidge

In 1970, the people of Salinas, Ecuador lived in extreme poverty. About 4 out of 6 kids died due to the poor living conditions. The salt mines were a way for the people of Salinas to earn a living and make their livelihood better. Salinas has created several high-quality products including cheese, chocolate and wool clothing that they export to other parts of of the world. We visited Quesera where they make six different types of cheese. We even got to try them and they were delicious!  We also learned that 90% of the people that live in Salinas make their living from producing milk for the cheese.


Tasting the cheese!

The salt mines of Salinas, Ecuador was a sight like no other. The walk to and from the mines was about a mile each way, but the view was spectacular, so spectacular that we even got to see a cloud float by right where we were standing. It was hard to know whether we were out of breath because of the altitude of 12,000 feet above sea level or the number of times we walked up and down those stairs! It felt like there were thousands. While at the mines, we learned about how the people from Salinas make their salt, and the reason for their name; SALinas– in Spanish “sal” means salt. The three main sources where they get the salt water comes from craters about 3 feet deep into the mountains they were called el sol, la luna, and las estrellas. In the summertime, the people from Salinas roll down buckets of salt water down to other craters for the water to evaporate, then they boil the left over salt and sell the product to consumers as a source of income.

One of our amazing PCs, Alex.

Group picture at the salt mines!

After our visit to the Salinas salt mines, we had the chance to visit one of the wisest and most accomplished people we personally have ever met. His name? Padre Antonio Polo. Padre Antonio came to the village of Salinas as part of a retreat from his church in Italy. He spoke about a sign that came to him when he came that made him want to stay and help–he saw three huts lined up together with smoke coming out of them all in unison. At the beginning of helping to develop this community, Padre Antonio Polo set a goal of getting rid of the major financial issues the people from Salinas had endured. Padre Antonio Polo introduced the cheese business to the community, which later became one of the greatest sources of income for the community, helping the living conditions greatly. The way the people of Salinas make their living is by helping to produce milk, and every 15 days they get paid by how much milk they produce by the liter. One of the greatest challenges Salinas faces is developing new areas of work for the next generation so the cooperative can be maintained. It took Señor Polo 50 years to help change this village for the better.  As Padre Antonio Polo ages and passes on the word of his beliefs and innovations to the community, he also showed us how powerful the act – how the change starts with one person– you. “Fill the world with less arrogance and more with curiosity and love.” – Padre Antonio Polo.

Picture with our esteemed guest!

Playing Jenga

P.S. Our PC Joshua interrupted our lunch to tell us about some amazing news! Smiling from ear to ear he informed us that after months of waiting his girlfriend was approved for a visa to travel to England with him! Congratulations to him and his girlfriend! We are so happy for you.  

Yay Joshua!


Taleya and Anahi