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Visiting Ethiopia - Meeting the Leader of the Girl's Club and Some Families Behind Our Coffee

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My daughter, Riley, and I just got back from Ethiopia and it was a great trip! We traveled there with our importer, Matt (my old prom date) from The Bushwick Seed Co (BUSECO) & Think Coffee and Kerry, the owner of the Tar Pit Cafe. It was so cool to get to see some of the great programs that BUSECO has in place to help the coffee farmers and their families in the village of Kellensoo, which is where our Ethiopian coffee is grown.  BUSECO builds financial support for these projects into the purchase price I pay for the green coffee.  So when I buy BUSECO's coffee I am indirectly investing into these programs.  

When BUSECO first started importing coffee from Kellensoo, they met with the village elders to see how they could help the community. Together they decided to address the problem of the high school drop out rate. To tackle this issue they took a two step approach. One project focused on building a library for the local students and the second program was designed to provide girls with re-usable feminine hygiene pads. The second program has been the most successful so far. Without the re-usable pads, the girls would be missing a week of school each month resulting in them getting so far behind in their studies they end up dropping out of school. This program has kept 700+ local girls in school. 

We met with the leader of the girls club and discussed the next steps in the program, which is to enable the Girls Club to make pads. By teaching the girls in the Girls Club to sew the pads, they can continue to provide them for girls coming of age in their village.  Additionally, it will provide a potential business opportunity where pads can be sold to girls in neighboring villages. Having the Girls Club make their own pads will also stretch the money allocated for the program because the pads can be made cheaper in Ethiopia than in the US.   We are working out how Prosum Roasters will contribute directly to this phase of the program. I sew, so maybe you will read a future post about me creating a sewing video that is going to be translated into Amharic.  Below are some pictures of our trip.

Kids outside of their home

Kellensoo kids outside of their school library which BESECO and Think Coffee built to address the issue of school drop out rates.

Meeting with Zenesh, the leader of the girl's club.  BUSECO & Think Coffee deliver the pads to the girl's club and then the girl's club distributes the pads to Kellensoo girls in need.   Here we just finished discussing how to enable the girls in the club to make their own pads.

One of the coffee mills we visited.  Shown here are African drying beds - some under repair.  When it is harvest time these beds would be covered in coffee drying in the sun.

A closer look at African drying beds.

The coffee exporter, Dahwitt, with one of the coffee farmer's babies.  This baby was so cute and so happy! 

Green coffee cherries.  When these cherries are ripe they will be red and will actually taste sweet.  The pit in the middle is where 2 coffee beans can be found and what will be sold as green coffee.



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