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CFCA stories

Chocolate unites 8-year-old and Guatemalan mothers

December 20, 2010

Liberty in Guatemala with CFCA
Liberty makes a new friend in Guatemala. The 8-year-old from Kansas
raised $1,500 to help a mothers group in Guatemala buy a chocolate
grinding machine.

Raising $1,500 for charity can be a daunting task for anyone, but when a child takes on the challenge, that’s impressive.

Being a compassionate child who loves chocolate, Liberty Sementelli was inspired to help the chocolate-making venture of the Good Samaritan mothers group of Choacorral, Guatemala.

Her mother, CFCA sponsor Christine Sementelli of Wichita, Kan., raved about the women and their project after visiting the operation during a mission awareness trip to Guatemala in April 2009.

Liberty, who was about to celebrate her 7th birthday, was motivated to take action.

“We should do something for them, Mom,” Liberty said.

Mother and daughter crafted a letter asking CFCA what they could do for the group. CFCA responded that the group needed a chocolate grinding machine, an expense of about $1,500.

“CFCA did not expect us to buy the grinder,” Christine said. “They just told us that’s what the ladies wanted.”

Liberty helps make CFCA chocolate

Liberty helps make CFCA chocolate

Liberty helps grind chocolate in Guatemala.

Without their own grinder, the women had to make a one-hour trip into the city.

“They had to carry a big bag of cacao beans to the bus stop, pay for bus fare, ride the bus to Guatemala City, rent the grinder, and carry the ground chocolate back on the bus in a big burlap sack,” Christine said. “The whole process took them all day.”

Liberty wanted to raise the money to help the women buy their machine. But how does a child raise $1,500? One dollar at a time.

Liberty started doing small jobs for her neighbors. She walked dogs, ironed tablecloths, folded socks and watered plants.

For her 7th birthday in May 2009, Liberty had a party and asked each guest to donate $10 in lieu of a gift. She donated money she received for First Communion and Christmas.

“This is for the chocolate ladies,” she told her mother.

As a way to reinforce good behavior, Christine developed a chart and rewarded Liberty with an “X” each time Liberty did something good. Liberty earned $1 for every “X.”

It took Liberty one year to save the $1,500. While the money added up, Christine made arrangements to take Liberty on the July 2010 mission awareness trip to Guatemala.

Christine sent the money to CFCA in late spring of 2010, about two months before their trip.

The CFCA staff in Guatemala took Christine and Liberty to Choacorral to visit the women and see the grinding machine made possible through Liberty’s efforts. Liberty, now 8, was impressed.

“It was really amazing,” she said. “I saw a big, brown machine, as big as a horse, grind the cacao beans.”

The mothers group had changed since Christine’s first visit.

Mothers group in Guatemala making chocolate
Liberty's mother, Christine, and the mothers group in Guatemala.

“I noticed a difference just in the one year since I first met them,” Christine said, “in their confidence, sense of goals, having ideas and working as a team. One of the staff members told me they are learning about business, banking and other things they never would have done.”

While it’s unusual for a child Liberty’s age to raise $1,500 for charity, it’s not unusual for Liberty. In 2007, she raised $50 for victims of the tornado in Greensburg, Kan. Liberty has even recruited her first CFCA sponsor: a teacher’s aide at her school.

“She’s just that way,” Christine said about her extraordinary daughter.

After talking to Liberty, one gets the sense this is only the beginning of her relationship with the chocolate ladies.

“I feel good because I did something nice,” she said. “I’d like to go visit them again.”

Watch a video of the Guatemalan mothers group »

See how a mother makes hot chocolate for her family »

Make a cup of traditional Guatemalan hot chocolate »