This Mother's Day...
Support Moms Around the World with Equal Exchange
We want to acknowledge and celebrate the mothers in farming communities that are contributing to their families' coffee, cacao or tea production, while also running their households — cooking, cleaning, and tending to the children, animals, and gardens. It's a lot of work, and often requires getting up before dawn and being the last to go to sleep. We are continually inspired by these women and all that they do for their farms, families and communities.
Your support of fairly traded products helps support moms in co-ops around the world. Thank you. In honor of Mother's Day, we're highlighting a few of the special women that Equal Exchange works with around the world.
We know these stories will inspire you as much as they inspire us. Share this page with friends and family to celebrate moms with us this Mother's Day.
Location: Dipilto, Nicaragua
Co-op: La Union, PRODECOOP
Role: Caretaker of the home, former coffee farm worker, wife of Roberto (member of the co-op), mother of four, grandmother of two.
Reyna was born and raised in Dipilto, a small community in the mountains of Nicaragua, and has lived among coffee her entire life. Her husband, Roberto, is a member of the primary co-op, La Union. They have been married for over thirty years; she recalls meeting him as they were both picking coffee as teenagers. "It was love at first sight," she remembered.
Now, they have four grown children: three sons and a daughter, plus two small grandchildren. Reyna doesn't work in the fields any more, but is still very connected to the daily work of the farm. Her husband Roberto and her sons Joel and Elger are out in the field every day, tending trees, picking coffee and processing fresh coffee cherries in the depulper behind their house. Meanwhile, Reyna prepares meals, washes clothes and manages the household while watching over her grandchildren (Fernand, 5 and Niva, 2). Reyna is proud to be sending her middle son, Maynor, to university to study agronomy. Maynor says of his mom, "She's the best cook in Nicaragua."
Shop Nicaraguan Coffee to support moms like Reyna:
Location: Mount Elgon, Uganda
Co-op: Buginyanya, Gumutindo
Role: Co-op member, model coffee farmer, mother of six
Beatrice belongs to the Buginyanya primary society, which is part of the Gumutindo co-operatives. She is an active member of the co-op, participating in meetings and women's group activities, and she is a model coffee farmer. While coffee is her staple crop and income, she also grows cassava, bananas and beans and has two cows and two goats of her own. On top of that, Beatrice is a widowed mother of six. Her strength and ability to overcome the challenges of life shines through her quiet and soft-spoken demeanor.
The Buginyanya community received the first round of energy efficient stoves from the stove project in 2013, and Beatrice now uses one of these stoves in her home every day for cooking and warmth. She said: "I use less firewood, it cooks well and it saves me money. And the smoke is out of the house."
Shop African Coffee to support moms like Beatrice:
Marta Zatalaya Isuiza
Location: San Martin, Peru
Role: Cacao farmer, co-op member, mother
Marta is a cacao farmer and mother who has been a member of ACOPAGRO since its early days. She participated in one of the Cooperative Development Project's farm field school activities and contacted technician Miguel Trujillo because she wanted to invest in her farm after seeing the results. One of the first activities she decided to invest in was massive pruning of her trees for disease and pest control. Her neighbors laughed at her, she said, and told her that she was going to damage her plants. Even her husband thought that she was going to kill the cacao with that much pruning. Time has proven her foresight however, and the farm is flourishing as a result of her work.
Both Marta's mother and daughter help with farm activities, meaning three generations of women work together on one farm. Right now they are producing about 700 kilos of cacao per hectare, but she could start to produce more than 1,000 kilos in the same area with continued work and investment in the land.
Shop Chocolate to support moms like Marta:
Location: Bukavu, South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo
Organization: Maison Dorcas Aftercare Program, Panzi Hospital
Role: Director of Maison Dorcas
Mama Zawadi is the Director of the Maison Dorcas aftercare program at Panzi Hospital, a refuge for survivors of sexual violence in the DR Congo. She is the proud mother of eight children and a mother figure to over 300 women and children in her care. Maison Dorcas provides important counseling, vocational training and education to help these women and children during their emotional and physical recoveries. "When I first started doing this work, I would cry all the time," she said, and it seems the work hasn't gotten any easier. When her husband tragically passed away in 2014, grief made it difficult for her to return to the hospital – but the women needed her, so she did. Despite many emotional challenges, Mama Zawadi's dedication, strength and kindness has created a safe and loving space for survivors to heal.
Equal Exchange's Congo Coffee Project directly benefits the Panzi Hospital: $1 per bag of Congo Coffee goes to the Panzi Foundation, and in 2015 we reached a milestone contribution of $50,000. This will ensure that the essential work of Mama Zawadi and Maison Dorcas will be available to the many women and children who need it.
Support moms at Panzi Hospital:
Fatima Lopez Lopez
Location: Esteli, Nicaragua
Role: Quality Manager
Fatima is the Quality Manager of PRODECOOP, a talented coffee cupper and a mother of two young children. As the daughter of a coffee farmer and one of eight children, she grew up watching and learning about the coffee process. This has given her a unique understanding of all sides of coffee, from seed selection, harvesting techniques and export requirements to the nuances of roasting, tasting and quality. Fatima has been working in coffee quality since 1998 and with PRODECOOP since 2002, and her passion for learning has earned her Star Cupper status and she is now a licensed Q Grader. In 2004, Fatima spent a week with Equal Exchange’s own Quality Manager, Beth Ann Caspersen, learning about the U.S. specialty coffee market. Over the last decade, they have worked together to select delicious coffee from each harvest. Through her leadership and her drive for excellence, Fatima is a role model for women cuppers and farmers in Nicaragua and beyond.
Shop Nicaraguan Coffee to support moms like Fatima:
Uganda Stove Project
In the spring of 2014, we raised $4,720 to help Ugandan women build 118 energy-efficient stoves in their communities, surpassing our goal of 100 stoves!
These new stoves make a remarkable difference in the lives of mothers and families. They reduce the amount of firewood necessary to cook by 50%, meaning a substantial savings in money, labor and time. These stoves can cook more dishes at once, and faster, meaning less time in the kitchen. And, they prove a warm, smoke-free environment for families to spend time together in.