Since 2004 when the Café Femenino Foundation was founded, we have been funding grant requests that we received directly from the women in Guatemala who grow the Café Femenino coffee. This year for the first time we, as a Board of Directors, we able to travel to Guatemala to visit the three groups we have supported from the beginning.
Our first visit was to Solola. There we had our first meeting with the women who share their appreciation for the Foundation and the buyers of their Café Femenino coffee.
One of the first project the Foundation funded was the Library and Librarian for the small rural library. The children of this community and near by communities were not educated and therefore could not pass the government’s standard testing and were not eligible for education funding through the government program. The Café Femenino Foundation, along with Child Aid and Bridge Builders, built the library and provided the books and the librarian/teacher to run the library and education the children. Today, the library aka school classroom operates year-round. The library has become a place for not only the children to come and learn, but where adults can come for basic educations. The librarian also makes house call for the women to then on a variety of subjects. They now also offer a Summer Reading Program and book mobile-type of service so that the children don’t fall behind in the summer months. The Café Femenino Foundation, along with Cup for Education, still fund the librarian and programs each year and the children are now passing the standard tests. Education is the key to their future and this library has made a significant impact on their lives.
We then moved on to tour the Biofactory Products facility. This is an ongoing production of organic biofertilizers, organic products to control coffee rust, fertilizers for flowers, disease control, as well as, fertilizer for growth. The goal is to produce quality organic products for the coffee, vegetables and other plants. Over time, the organic fertilizers can hopefully be sold to others as another source of income.
A visit to a coffee community is not complete without a visit to a coffee farm. We walked through the fields and into the most beautiful coffee finca where the owner spent time sharing their experiences, challenges and strengths in producing some of the finest Café Femenino coffee in Guatemala.
Day Two took us to FECCEG, an organization that represents the commercialization of Fair Trade Organic Coffees for over 1,900 small producers of which nearly a third are women farmers. We toured the whole process of sorting, grading, roast and cupping. The Foundation has funded grants to strengthen the organic coffee production and income diversification and to assist them in control and the coffee rust problem a few years ago.
On Day Three we traveled to Puento Alto, one of the more remote communities. After hours we were greeted with open arms and a meal prepared by the community members. The leaders then addresses us sharing history and struggles of this little community. In the early 1980’s the Guerrillas massacred many of the natives and took their land. This is a community of survivors determined to rebuild only to then face the dreaded “roya/coffee rust” devastation. This was very disturbing yet a story of perseverance. The community strongly embraces Café Femenino and the leadership model. The woman leader was even confident enough to ask to be invited to the United States to attend the next Specialty Coffee Association.
Afterwards we trekked up a hillside that seemed like it was straight up the mountain side through the coffee farm to visit one of the other projects funded by the Foundation in this community – the Chicken Coupe Project. We provided funds for the tools and supplies for the women to improve the conditions of their farms by building proper roosts for the chickens and hens for the use of eggs and meat in their diets without harm from other animals in the area. The addition of the chicken coupe has improved the breeding of healthy chickens and is providing a continuous food source for the women and families.
Back down the road into the community to tour coffee, cup coffee and visit with the community before ending our journey in Guatemala.
The beautiful part of this trip was such an incredible welcome from those who we’ve only known via email or met at SCA. The meet the women, see their faces and get to know them is what we all found to be the best parts of the trip. We look forward to funding even more projects in Guatemala and look forward to a return visit. If you are interested in supporting the projects in Guatemala please visit the Current Grants section on our website.