Guest Author - Gayle E. Santana
Amidst the bad news in Haiti with a phenomenal number of dead, slow moving food and water distribution, and a growing unrest, there is hope. Miraculous rescues continue to defy all scientific evidence as to how long one can go without food or water, public displays of faith and thankfulness just to be alive, and even as the hope of finding more survivors dims, Haiti’s future is already in the planning stages.
As long as there is life, there is hope. Granted, there will be many years of rebuilding, possibly even decades to come. While Haiti needs immediate help from the world, we can begin now to help Haiti to become better than it was, making it self-sufficient by supporting its economy.
Haitian coffee has always been available and if we create a greater demand now, this can be a significant part of its economic growth. According to an article in the New York Times called “Building Haiti’s Economy, One Mango at a Time,” “Excellent coffee is grown in the Haitian mountains, but much of it is sold informally across the border to coffee producers in the Dominican Republic, who reap most of the profits.”
Just Haiti is an organization that was formed in 2007. It is a non-profit whose first project was to help coffee growers in Baradères, Haiti to export their organic, shade-grown coffee.
According to their website, “Just Haiti works with Haitians and others to alleviate poverty, hunger, illiteracy and disease in Haiti. We seek to create an environment for justice and peace through fostering and sponsoring activities that include sustainable business and community development, education, employment opportunity, health and medical services, infrastructure development, and improvement of environmental quality.”
Kafe Lespwa, meaning Coffee of Hope in Creole, is “a fair-trade-plus coffee: growers receive the full fair trade price up front, and all sales proceeds go to benefit the growers' association. Baradères is 100 miles west of Port-au-Prince, but the earthquake has reached there in the form of refugees seeking care and comfort with relatives. Kafe Lespwa is roasted and marketed locally in the Chicago and Washington DC areas, and also sold on Just Haiti's website at justhaiti.org.”
Just Haiti is also asking supporters to contribute to an earthquake relief fund for Baradères, home of the coffee growers who produce Kafe Lespwa. You can donate online at http://www.justhaiti.org/donate.htm. Contributions are tax deductible.