APONTE // COLOMBIA
THROUGH COFFEE WE CAN REBUILD FARM WORKER HOMES
Think Coffee finds a farming community torn apart by a natural disaster.
First round of materials distributed to 20 families to rebuild their homes.
A total of 74 families have received materials to rebuild homes away from the fault line.
Since January 2016, many homes have collapsed due to the movements of a nearby geological fault line- the local school and church have crumbled and 80% of houses have been destroyed, forcing nearly 40% of the population to leave and resettle elsewhere. Despite some presence from international and Colombian aid organizations, the effects of the shifting fault line have largely not been addressed.
Think Coffee has partnered with the local coffee cooperative, Cooperativa de Cafes Especiales de Nariño, to mitigate the effects of this misfortune. 40 cents per pound of green coffee we import will be invested into purchasing construction materials. Specifically, the farmers have asked us to buy brick, concrete, metal, and roofing, so that they can rebuild their homes in fault-safe zones. This way, we are truly partnered on this project together: the farmers will be in control of their individual needs, but we will continue to fund it and travel back to Aponte to make sure that we are working in the best way possible.
YEARLY PROJECTED GOALOur next steps include completing the homes of the current group of beneficiaries. We have figured out what final construction supplies they need, so once they are finished building, we can move on to the next group that will receive materials.
Because of COVID restrictions, we have been unable to visit Colombia but have been in contact with our partners at origin throughout the pandemic. Everyone’s focus has been to keep each other safe and look forward to the day when we can visit all the farmers and their families.
Our hope is by the end of the year, we can pick up where we left off and can continue our important work there.
Enrique returns to Aponte to find the next group of beneficiaries. After numerous visits to this community, he finds many coffee farmers, those who own land and sell their coffee to us, some of which who have received materials from this project are in need of our help but aren't the only ones. There are people in the community who have been overlooked. There are families who own no land or have no coffee to sell. These families are the farm workers of the community and have no security or consistent income. Enrique decides to add this vulnerable group to the list of potential beneficiaries. After meeting more than 40 different families during this trip, he finds the next group of beneficiaries. A mix of coffee farmers, farm workers, and single mothers with children who are also farm workers. Our goal is to always find the most vulnerable and those who really need our help.
Enrique and Lacy travel to Aponte to touch base with the beneficiaries, find out if there are any who may need more supplies and deliver them what they have requested. Reconstruction in Aponte has been well under way, and we are seeing great progress with people’s completed or nearly completed homes.
Enrique travels to Aponte with Paul, photographer and barista from our Hudson Yards store. Together, they visit 42 housing sites to asses how the project has progressed. So far, 17 beneficiaries will continue to the next phase of the project, 13 are still constructing their homes with the initial materials received, and 12 have completed construction.
Noah visits Aponte to follow up on the progress of the original materials distributed. 5 people have almost completed their homes! The rest have been lagging, for a variety of reasons, so Noah and Fercho establish guidelines and deadlines for construction for the original 20 beneficiaries. Another 20 people whose homes have collapsed are chosen to benefit from the next purchase.
Coop Especiales sends us an update with photos to show how each beneficiary is doing. Click here to read our April 2017 report.
Noah, with 6th Avenue barista Chad Steed & Shaun Morrissey, return to work with Fernando and Jose on executing the project. They spend one day reviewing each farmer's construction needs, one day purchasing everything requested, and the next several days delivering and distributing materials among the families.
Noah travels back to Aponte to begin concrete talks for our project. Here, he has a meeting with the 21 coffee farmers to communally figure out the best way to implement the project. Noah and Jose initially propose to design a simple template for houses and to build as many as the budget can fit. The farmers counter that the largest help will be for Think and CoopEspeciales to purchase each family the materials they need for construction, that way they can do their own rebuilding in marked safe areas.
Noah Welch, Director of Coffee and International Projects, and Enrique Hernandez, District Manager of the West Side Stores, travel to Colombia to find Colombian coffee for our blend. Here, they make contact with Jose Gomez of the Nariño Coffee Cooperative, who introduces Noah and Enrique to the farmers of Aponte.