The Café Femenino Foundation was very excited to venture on our first trip to Guatemala and visit the women who submit the grants. After a couple of days in Guatemala City we all loaded up in a small bus and headed up to Nahuala. There we had our first meeting with the women who shared their appreciation for the Foundation. After introductions many of the women poured their hearts out to the hard work they do and the love the have for it. After the meeting we were invited to visit the local pizzeria… yes a small place within the home of a local family. The family was very proud and delighted to show their entrepreneurial spirit. We then took a short walk down to the farms and witnessed some of the most lush and beautiful coffee plantations. These were truly natural shade grown coffees. Another project we help to fund was an Organic Fertilization Project, there they produce their own products for their farms and to sell to others.
Next up was to visit one of our favorite projects we funded. The school library was full of books on every subject and meeting the librarian was a genuine treat. She was so enthusiastic about the project and the work she does with the children and the local women. She makes house calls for the women to teach them on a variety of subjects.
We jump back on the bus to head down to our resting place in Quetzaltenango before heading over 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, roasting and cupping. After a brief meeting about what they do we were off to Soloma for the night before our next four hour trip to Puente Alto.
Puento Alto was one of the more remote communities as we all jumped out of the bus and into the backs of pickups to get into the area. There we were greeted with welcomed arms and a nice meal. The speeches turned to some of the horrors of the early 1980’s when the Guerrillas massacred many of the native Indians and took their land. It was very disturbing yet a story of perseverance. Afterwards we trek up a hillside that seemed like it was straight up the mountain side. Back down the hill we witnessed a large chicken coop that we funded as one of the food projects.
Now we’re off to HueHue a six hour drive that took us up to over 11,000 feet and unbelievably we stopped the bus to play in the snow! None of us expected to see snow in the tropics. After an overnight stay we headed down to Panajachel to spend a day of relaxation. As we headed out to Antigua, we had a big scare as the bus overheated and the driver pulled the radiator cap off. The cap blew off and spread hot water and steam inside the bus. We were so happy that no one was hurt! We all gathered our water bottles to get us by, just enough to get to a waterfall up the hill a few miles. That did the trick as we had no further incidents with over heating.
The beautiful part of the trip was such an incredible welcome from those who we’ve only known via email. To meet the women, see their faces and get to know them is what we all found to be the best part of the trip. We look forward to funding even more projects in Guatemala and our next visit.