It is in times of crisis that every society has the greatest duty to protect human rights
-Dr. Dennis Mukwege, Founder and Medical Director of Panzi Hospital, Bukavu, DRC
The Democratic Republic of Congo has been plagued by violence for decades. Equal Exchange founded the Congo Coffee Project with the Panzi Foundation as a means to bring Congolese coffee to market in the United States and raise awareness about the alarming rate of sexual violence that takes place everyday.
Sexual violence has affected thousands of people in the Congo over the last two decades, and for women, men and children in need of medical attention there are not many options; they are sometime ostracized, abandoned or ignored with no where to go. Survivors of sexual violence seek refuge and assistance at the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, DRC, a bustling place with more than 360 staff and thousands of visitors each year. The hospital treats patients with various ailments, but has become known as a safe place for survivors of sexual violence to seek treatment and heal from their trauma.
Since inception in 2011, the Congo Coffee Project has raised more than $60,000 for survivors of sexual violence. Through this effort, Equal Exchange has worked with numerous organizations to tell the story of the DRC to the world, to encourage peace in the Congo and contribute to economic empowerment through the purchase and sale of our Congolese coffee. We believe it is our duty to educate, participate in industry events and stand up for the voices that need to be heard.
The Panzi Foundation
Panzi Hospital was founded by Dr. Dennis Mukwege, a world renowned gynecologist and out spoken activist on behalf of the women he treats. Dr. Mukwege was honored by Women for Women International in November of 2015 with the Champion of Peace award and has been nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work with Congolese women. He is supported by an amazing staff and his sister, fondly known as Mama Zawadi, is the Director for the Maison Dorcas aftercare center.
The Maison Dorcas aftercare center provides survivors of sexual violence with a place to heal, receive counseling and vocational skills training. Over the last five years, money earned by the Congo Coffee Project has been dedicated to vocational and skills training. Survivors are taught sewing and weaving skills to be later used when they leave the aftercare center and Equal Exchange’s support has helped to bring to market a woven plastic bag that we call the Panzi Bag.
“Beyond investing in individual women, Equal Exchange is also investing in creating a sustainable, entrepreneurial program at the hospital, importing beautiful Panzi Bags made by the women at Miason Dorcas for sale in the United States," said Naama Haviv, Executive Director for Panzi Foundation USA. "Lives, livelihoods, and communities are rebuilding themselves. It’s a remarkable partnership”
Equal Exchange is proud to partner with Panzi Foundation USA, purchase coffee from our partners at SOPACDI cooperative and work with like minded organizations and activists to bring the conversation to life. We believe that through action and financial support we can help to contribute to the Congolese economy and assist the women, men and children by telling their story and supporting the power to heal.
We cannot close our eyes and ears when someone denies and challenges another’s humanity
Thanks to you, Equal Exchange has donated over $60K to the Panzi Foundation to date!
Buy the Coffee - Your purchase will directly benefit the Panzi Hospital and Equal Exchange's producer partners in East Africa.
Learn about our partnerships and allied organizations working for peace:
- From the Shores of Lake Kivu, Roast Magazine, Jan/Feb 2016
- Making Connections in the DRC
- Saveur du Kivu, Part 1
- Saveur du Kivu, Part 2
- Saveur du Kivu, The Preparation: Day 1
- Saveur du Kivu, The Preparation: Day 2
- Saveur du Kivu, The Preparation: Day 3 & 4
- Saveur du Kivu, The Competition