Doña Digna Molina
With dignity in the skin and the name of
Shiroles, Talamanca, Costa Rica
Doña Digna Molina Kabraka lives in Shiroles, Monte Sión, an hour’s distance from Bribri, the main town in the canton of Talamanca. She is a native Bribri indian. Quite some time ago she lost her husband, which is why she now works the plot of land with her eighteen year old son, José David, and her fifteen-year-old grandson, Elvin José, who are second- and third-year students of the college. “Only the younger one has a scholarship. They help on the plot of land on Saturdays and also when they don’t have school.” Sometimes she hires a farm labourer. “It was more difficult before when the children were small. When I was sick I couldn’t take care of the plot.”
Cacao, banana, palms such as palm fruit and palm heart, as well as more than ten types of fruit trees grow on the one-hectare plot. All the fruit is for the family although sometimes the surplus is sold. There are also two pigs, chickens, two horses, and five cows on the plot where tilapia are also produced.
Doña Digna is a member of APPTA, the Talamancan Association of Small Producers. It is her link with this organization that enables her to export cacao to Switzerland, where chocolates, sweets and cocoa powder are produced, for subsequent sale in Italy and Canada. But cacao also has domestic uses. “I use it, and my daughter uses the oil on her face. The oil is excellent for eliminating scars, and she sometimes sells it. I also use it for making cakes.”
Doña Digna organizes her time well so as to cope with the responsibility of two boys by establishing a working agenda: “Tomorrow we’re going to clear the land and de-leaf the bananas; afterwards we must prune the cacao trees, cut the young branches so they don’t grow, taking care not to harm the flowers and the small fruits....” Each day is quite different and doña Digna likes to do everything. “In the house I have different chores to attend each day. On two days I make little pies and rolls that I cook on the wood-burning stove, and sell them here. Another day I take care of the farm, while on another I tend the animals. I like everything a little, and can’t afford to overlook anything. I do tend to overlook the housekeeping, because there’s no time. I’m a woman on her own without a fixed job. If I can’t sell a chicken I sell a pig.” By doing different jobs and being highly organized is how doña Digna has managed to raise her children and keep the farm running.
And when she has time she takes care of other people. Now she is taking care of a woman friend who is ill, so the daughter takes care of the farm, and on Sundays Digna tends the animals.
But her day doesn’t end there. Digna is part of the organization ACOMUITA, the association of Talmancan indigenous women, and is also studying. “We’ve just finished a field-school course given by CATIE (Tropical Agricultural Research and Training Centre). We have had three training sessions this year.”
Her bright spirit, her tenacity, her courage and commitment have enabled doña Digna to succeed in bringing up her children and grandchildren. Her hands, and those of her son and grandson harvest the cocoa that titillates your palate in the form of sweet chocolate.