Last week I started a personal reflection on my trip to Colombia and this week I would like to elaborate on the workshops we held while I was there.
The activities for the day took place at Finca el Paraiso, owned by William Sepulveda and Gloria Pulgarin, and the youth were already getting started when we arrived. Along with the youth, our circle included three representatives from one of our longtime donors, Peet’s Coffee & Tea. Matt Broscio, Social Responsibility Manager, Andrea Fernandes, Director of Brand Marketing, and Phil Maloney, Director of Coffee Purchasing traveled to visit and see the impact of their contributions to Coffee Kids. Over the course of the morning, the youth rotated through three different stations for various training exercises.
The first exercise was a presentation by William about his family farm. This station was designed to showcase a young farmer who implemented many types of agricultural techniques from his training and created a successful enterprise with his farming business. The second was learning pruning strategies to increase production of coffee trees. And the third was a GPS exercise to create maps of the family farms of each youth. I was impressed with the participation and attention level of the youth as well as the eagerness of the trainers.
It was evident there was a lot of thought and preparation put into creating a beneficial program; the youth were clearly ready to engage and learn from the instructors. The staff of Coffee Kids Colombia is an incredible group, led by Beatriz Fischersworring. Mid-day we broke for lunch prepared by our host, Gloria Pulgarin, of rice, beef, carrots, beets, and fried plantains. I could barely finish my plate; it was so filling and delicious! I am so thankful for the hospitality this family showed all of us.
The afternoon was dedicated to reflecting on lessons learned and sharing business plan proposals. One youth in particular stood out to me- Anderson Castrillon Figueroa. As questions were posed to the group, this 22-year-old youth was ready and willing to share well-articulated insights and self-reflections. Anderson and his younger brother, Diego, wrote a business plan to re-plant 2,000 coffee trees and expand their production by an additional 700 trees on their family’s land.
When asked what is different now in comparison to before the program, Anderson described how previously his vision for the future was very small, but now he has an understanding of how to think much larger. He explained that as a result of the model of the program, he feels he has the skills to create a project, incorporate innovative practices, be disciplined, and take the steps to improve his quality of life. In response to questions about what he is applying from the lessons, his answers incorporated learning to respect others, developing relationships with his peers, and taking on responsibility. And what did Anderson dream about? His dream is to build a better home for his parents and brother, obtain a personal mode of transportation, sell his own coffee, and one day have his own family.
After a series of experiences like this over the course of the week, I sat on the plane to New York thinking, ‘I sure feel lucky to be here, on this earth, surrounded by passionate, motivated people of all ages, striving to make a small piece of this puzzle more positive, bound with stronger connections, and filled with delicious coffee.’
Thank you for being part of this journey and I look forward to meeting and talking with each of you! The future of coffee starts with young farmers.
This post is Part II of reflection by Coffee Kids Manager, Joanna Furgiuele, after her recent origin trip to Colombia.