We recently returned from Kellensoo. We have been receiving fruity and aromatic natural-processed Ethiopian Sidamo coffee from this village for several years. Our contract pays for a library, school supplies, and feminine hygiene products.
Our price of coffee includes finances for the village to build a library. In October, we saw that the school left the library largely unused and unstaffed. This trip, we only got good news. The people of Kellensoo have taken the library over from the school, hired a full-time librarian, and created a real lending system. We're going to get them more books now that we know the library is in use.
A lack of feminine hygiene products prevented many girls from returning to school after hitting puberty. 760 girls have now received their own personal reusable materials, with instructions. And these girls are all thrilled to be in school. The Kellensoo Girls' Club formed to distribute these kits. The Club is now organizing a kit-manufacturing company with hopes of selling kits to neighboring villages and NGOs across the continent.
This trip we brought our exporter's son Biniyam out into coffee land. A long long ways. We're not sure he thoroughly enjoyed himself, but we thought it was important he see how far his farmers carry coffee on their backs to pay for his lifestyle. It's important for all of us and that's why we go often: to make sure the farmer's lifestyle gets closer to what they would prefer every year.
What we experienced during this trip to Kellensoo lead us to further believe our efforts are both valuable and necessary to the sustainability of our trade and the farmers' right to work for themselves. Nobody needs to get rich off their backs. They should be in control. They are in control.