Wakami’s journey began with a dream. After graduating from Cornell University with a Masters in Biology, Maria Pacheco returned home to Guatemala. Her country was suffering. A 32-year civil war had destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure and the people who suffered the most were women and children from rural communities who faced violence, malnutrition, and displacement. She dreamed of restoring the country’s ecosystems.
In collaboration with local farmers, she began to plant trees. To make the project sustainable, they began to sell wooden toys and home décor. The venture was called El Conejo de Sacalá and over the years it has grown, supporting over 2,500 rural Guatemalan farmers.