Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Do you know who's behind your morning coffee? I do.

When I saw that Oxfam were fighting against poverty, I was intrigued. When I saw I could help fight their cause, and do my part? I jumped. This post is the first in a two part series about how we can help fight against the disease which is poverty - sometimes, without even trying.

Imagine.

The scene is a dreary Monday morning, you just survived the commute into the city and you have your heart set on the one thing which can make this Monday more bearable. Coffee.We all reach for it in times of need, and I'm no exception - although after writing this, I admit, I'm doing my best to ensure I'm giving thanks to those that provide me with my caffeinated sustenance. Not the baristas. Not the workmate with her emergency jar of coffee.

The real people behind my mug of coffee.

Meet Pedro Cruz, one of the people behind that coffee currently swirling around your mug.

Photograph Credit: Eleanor Famer @ Oxfam

He doesn't have the job of serving you the coffee, nor does he make it for you. But he's the one reason you have it in your mug today, and it really is time you got to know him. He lives in Central America where coffee production is often a pivotal part of family life. They tend the coffee plantations, harvest the coffee and sort it so that your mug of caffeinated goodness is the best it can be. Unfortunately, it isn't all great.

At the moment, a fungus is currently wreaking havoc on coffee plantations - it's something known as 'coffee rust' and thanks to climate change, its happening faster than ever. Pedro, can't pick beans that have been blighted by coffee rust so not only is our coffee suffering - Pedro and his family are. But you don't know Pedro and his family, do you?

Photograph Credit: Eleanor Famer @ Oxfam
Wrong. You do now. This is Pedro, his wife, and their four beautiful children. Jeffrey* is 9. Carlos-Danie*l is 5. Jonathan* is 2, and Joseline* is 11. They all live in a town called Plan Del Socorro in Western Honduras in a small but humble home. The place they call home is only accessible by foot, and has no toilet facilities - and they collect the families supply of water from a local well.

Pedro, is what is known as a 'coffee cutter' - an agricultural laborer who specialises in the drink we all know and love. His job provides the income for the whole family - that is two adults, and four children. Thanks to the industry being impacted by the devastating fungus you heard about earlier, that income has been severely impacted. His income has gone from £3.50 (120 lempiras) to £2.90 (100 lempiras) per day. That means that each member of the Cruz household is surviving on £1 a day. That isn't enough to keep up with feeding a family of six, I'm afraid..

Photograph Credit: Eleanor Farmer @ Oxfam
“Sometimes we don’t eat so the kids can. We’re adults and can take the pain more.” “When food runs out the children just eat tortilla and salt. They ask for more food. I feel so sad when they’re asking for food and I can’t give it to them. I say ‘children look-there’s nothing here.’ It’s very hard.”
 - Maria Cruz (27)
Photograph Credit: Eleanor Farmer @ Oxfam

Photograph Credit: Eleanor Farmer @ Oxfam

Photograph Credit: Eleanor Farmer @ Oxfam

Now, Oxfam are working alongside Pedro, his family, and other people in the coffee industry to try and minimise the impact on working families like the Cruz's. They're educating people in sustainable farming, so that people can cope with climate change and the horrors it brings a little better. This safeguards the lives of the families who rely on the coffee plantations, as well as that hot steaming mug in your hand right now.

You can help.

By visiting Oxfam.org.uk/donate, you can donate the price of your beverage (or more if you wish to) to help aid the work overseas.

£3 each week is enough to help farmers like Pedro to provide for their families. 
£20 is enough to buy seeds for a family to grow rust-resistant coffee and earn a good living for a whole year. 
£40 is enough to pay for everything a farmer needs to replant with new coffee seeds and tend the land for a year.

So please, when you finish your local commute and head to the coffee shop - think about donating the cost of your drink to people like Pedro and the Cruz family. I know I logged onto the website and donated £3 - the usual cost of my pre-work latte. Even a little can go a long, long way.

*Names have been changed due to children being under the age of 18.
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