An introduction to Luma...

As part of our initiative to raise awareness of our efforts within the local community, we have asked our Model Human Rights - MUN - intern to write up her thoughts on what she has learnt whilst with employed with us. Please read on to learn about the insight she has gained :)

______________________


A LITTLE BIT ABOUT ME

A quote by John Stuart Mill; Philosopher, Political Economist (1806 - 1873):
“If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.”

My name is Luma. I am a 22-year-old debate enthusiast who just can’t seem to keep my mouth shut!

I love to read, play the piano and debate, slash argue, with as many people as I can in my spare time. I’m only kidding... I love healthy discussion! Do I do anything not so boring with my life? Well, the typical story. Travel, gaming and FIGHT ON BEHALF OF PEOPLE WHO ARE STRIPPED OF THEIR BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS!

So far, my life has taken me to great places. I’ve travelled to New York in America to represent London at the annual MUN conference and am very much a huge advocate for becoming part of their community. It’s a great opportunity to enhance and enrich a person’s cultural capital.

It’s only natural that my adventures led me to The Good Coffee Project. I say this with a smile because I cannot think of a better place to not only express my opinions but to create actual change. A coffee company with a heart-centred approach that promotes ethical coffee, by focusing on the root issues within the supply chain and the wider industry. It’s as if the opportunity to effect real change in the world has fallen into my hands!

There are so many injustices in this world. It can be massively overwhelming at times and it may seem as though there are no solutions. So what do we do? Sit back and watch it all solve itself? I mean, is it going to solve itself? When does it end?

These are just a few questions that run through my mind daily. I’m probably just like you; an obsessive thinker who can’t seem to wrap her head around the fact that we need more people who are willing to stand up against the abuse of power in the lIves of our families and friends. Why do we struggle to become unified and fight against the things that cause the most sadness and pain? It’s on the news almost every day. We turn on our TV’s, scroll through our phones and witness nothing but war, mass manipulation and abuse of authority. I have felt for some time that I would like to be able to stand up for the voiceless and in the company Chantel is building, I see a future worth building.

One of the most valuable takeaways from my time so far with TGCP is this... The next time I drink a cup of coffee, I will make sure that not only does it taste good but it also needs to be ethically sourced. 

I have been digesting the coffee industry over the month and have made some observations that I would like to share, under the following subheadings, ‘Education’ and ‘Equal Pay’.

These are just my findings so far in these areas, besides the other areas I am still gathering research on to produce more articles whilst researching on behalf of TGCP.

Education

In my opinion, a little bit of the right education can go a long way, especially in an emerging economy.

There are some who would believe this ideology is bizarre, to educate slaves - but to a villager say somewhere in Sierra Leone, this is the difference between a torturous life and a bearable one. Countries plunged into poverty struggle to make ends meet everyday. Many do not even know what their wages should be. They work tirelessly for days at a rate of less than a dollar, if paid at all. They “accept” this sum, assuming it is what the beans are worth. It’s difficult for me to believe that this could be the reality of another human being...

This is where I believe education can help.

I for one strongly believe in the use of education to create power for these people. Workers are being sidelined, deprioritised and forgotten about due to their inability to communicate the injustice they are suffering having adopted the life of a coffee farmer in a remote community, A strong education could change this outcome.  These people need other people to care. It is even more unfortunate to realise that the governments of these people have no priorities regarding the workers. In many countries where poverty is thriving, the government do not intervene. To be honest, a lot of these governments thrive off of corruption. Arguably, they add fuel to the fire, as these inhumane acts are happening right under their noses. I cannot fathom how neglected farmers within the coffee industry feel. It is saddening to further acknowledge that this needs to be changed but the governments of these people are not visibly working to resolve this issue. Historically, they have benefited hugely by abusing the rights of others, forcing them to work in miserable conditions with little to no pay, further to that incurring debt to maintain their livelihood crops. How are workers supposed to get out of this cycle? To me, its an urgent global matter that needs to be addressed. We must help these people authentically find their voices and stand up for themselves. It has been too long that they have been silenced. They need to be educated on the principles of growing coffee as an enterprise; equipping them as business men and women in the marketplace, like everyone else making a profit for themselves and their families, respectfully...

An example of how education has helped to effect change is through the BROCAP®️ Trap. This simple, yet amazingly effective device has resulted in increased production and a better system. A small change which has directly contributed to overall benefits in the coffee industry. It is an amazing story which I read over and over again to remind myself of how it takes a single person to create dramatic change. For this reason, the power of a single individual should not be undermined. Our minds are capable of so much! It is evident to me that unified minds can create a greater world to live in; a utopia even.

Hence, why education must be prioritised. It is without a doubt that the right education will equip coffee-growing communities with the knowledge to suggest changes to legislation on coffee farming as well as promote the adoption of new laws, which will help create the ripple of change needed to make waves. Children bemit pulled out of school at the age of 9 to work on coffee plantations is unacceptable. This is a pivotal age in which we have information at our fingertips that we can absorb and learn utmost amounts of information from. To impede on a child’s upbringing like this is detrimental to society and the world at large. It creates a vacuum and vicious cycle in which these children will grow up and find difficult to alleviate themselves from, again without being educated of the resources that should be made available to them as a generational expert on coffee growing.

Education never stops for the average person. People continue to learn and improve their own livelihoods but for many others, this is a distant dream, if even considered. Governments should  intervene to ensure these children stay in school until the age of 16. Who will step in though to say enough is enough?! The Good Coffee Project are doing exactly this. Shining a light on the people at the very beginning of the supply chain serving the insatiable appetites of coffee drinkers around the world, who have been left in the dark to fend for themselves with they have, nothing in their lives indicative of the incredible value they provide. These people should at least be enabled to educate their children about the industry and pass on the knowledge they have pain-stakingly precessed with very little to show for their efforts. It’s initiatives like these that educate their children, their communities and the wider world on what they are worth as human beings who grow coffee, as a choice.

Change is always possible. It is our choice to emenace it or not.

Equal Pay

Why should sone one get paid less for being a woman?

The answer is, one should not. Being a woman myself, this is a subject I feel very strongly about. It seems absurd to think that people are still being judged for the bodies they were born into and not the work they are capable of producing. Within the coffee industry, there is a huge injustice being cast upon women. The idea that women are any less capable of fulfilling a specific role that may or may not require a specific knowledge, and often when it comes to our physical differences. Let’s take the abominable instance where a female farmer may want to own her own land to secure her future as well as her male equivalent. Supposedly, enyerprise is too complex of a thing for a woman who often works more than 12 hours a day to perfect the growth of a premium agricultural product such as Arabica coffee, to comprehend. Given, its forced manual labour, does this sound comprehensible to you?

It’s a sad reality to live through. Equal pay and equal treatment seems to be all we are fighting for these days. However, the women working in harsh conditions with mouths to feed and households to run, have it harder. They cannot fight. They are forced into hopeless situations that deem them powerless and often they do not know where to even start when standing up for themselves. The ultimatum they often face is to either make-do with the situation they are in or dare to speak out and potentially lose everything.

Must-haves for us, like a stable home with a steady flow of income is otherworldly. It’s crazy to think that this is how some women are being treated aNFT in households where there is a male figure, women have no chance to be considered “bread-winners”. There is no opportunity for them to keep hold of their own income. Many of us take for granted the few pennies we have lying around, behind the sofa or on our countertops but these pennies are sadly all that is needed for a family to be fed for a day. You might be asking yourself, what’s so important about women having their own money. It’s simple; the power of economy.

Having a steady income would enable a woman to own land and earn a respectable living for her family in cases where the man is spending his and her money on items outside of the benefit of the family unit. These women will be empowered with decision-making power and be treated as an equal rather than someone who is valued less than someone else doing the same job. Needless to say, many women have challenging lives just for being a woman, but add the frustrations of not being able to buy what you want or even need due to your male counterpart having control of your money. I doubt I would cope very well in that scenario.

Nonetheless, we must not become complacent and settle for anything less than what these women deserve also. They also deserve to be paid for their hard work and they deserve to have better working conditions and better lives using money they have earned as capable individuals.

The coffee industry is expanding but shouldn’t we prioritise how it is expanding? To let massive corporations ride freely on the backs of a tortured people in order to achieve their best outcome whilst others suffer is unjustifiable. As consumers, we can be more mindful when buying everyday things like chocolate, tea and coffee. A lot of companies will claim to provide more money to the farmers but they do not paint the true picture and often leave the women in the background. Not good enough. Not okay.

The idea behind The Good Coffee Project is that we look for opportunities to address inequalities in the industry that need to be addressed. With your help as our consumer, we can make waves.

This brings me on to the conclusion that the strapline that Chantel came up with is extremely fitting for the effort she makes when it comes to her role in the coffee space.

“We don’t just do good coffee. We do good with coffee.”

Written by Chantel Daniel