By Michelle Fish
It was a beautiful Saturday night here in Saugatuck, Michigan when we sat down on our deck with our dear friend Kim Cooke for a socially distant evening of conversation, libations, and an update on our friends and partners at the Living Hope International Orphanage in Ndola, Zambia.
Kim serves on the Board of Living Hope International, our Farm Direct partners behind the Living Hope Ubumi Coffee that supports the orphanage and community there.
If you need a little inspiration, a reminder that there are people doing real good in the world making change for the most vulnerable, read this. You’ll meet Davies Chipoya, their Executive Director on the ground in Zambia. The orphanage takes children from the “bush” whose parents have died, usually of AIDS or Malaria, and raises them up in love and light. This orphanage isn’t about adopting children out to the world. Instead, they are growing the next generation of leaders in their community. Every child receives an education that takes them at least through High School, and sometimes to college.
In fact, Kim told us that four of the graduates this year had been accepted into Northrise University in Ndola.
We are very proud to be partnering with them, bringing their coffee crop to BIGGBY Nation. Not only does it support the care and education of the kids at the orphanage, but it’s providing jobs and improving infrastructure for their very impoverished community. And the coffee is delicious.
We had been all set to go back to visit the kids and see the coffee in Ndola, Zambia this past May before Covid-19 changed the whole world’s plans. We have been checking in periodically with our friends to see how they are weathering the pandemic, and the news has been good.
Covid-19 has not yet had the wide spread impact in Zambia that it has had in many other parts of the world. It is a very poor country, with little in the way of health infrastructure, and we remain very concerned for their welfare.
Kim told us that they have taken every precaution at the orphanage. Fortunately, they are well set up to be able to isolate themselves from the community at large. They have implemented a variety of protocols, including temperature taking and mask wearing, to keep the children safe. To date, there have been no cases at the orphanage, and very few in Ndola.
One of the largest obstacles they faced in their land-locked country was getting this year’s harvest of coffee out, when so many borders had been shut. But the coffee is finally on the back of a cargo ship, headed to the United States and BIGGBY nation.
Kim shared some very good news with us… next year’s crop is on track to be over than 50,000 pounds, which is more than double what they produced in 2018. This is in part because they are expanding their knowledge of better agricultural practices. Their pruning, for example, has improved their yields. They are also planting companion plants that provide the right kind of shade for the coffee and the right kind of nutrients for the soil. As they continue to grow in their sustainable agricultural practices, their crop will get bigger and better.
More than that, many of their neighbors (mostly women) have wanted to switch their small plots of land from subsistence farming to growing Living Hope coffee. So they are adding acreage, and also providing many in their community with the means to lift themselves out of the kind of crushing poverty that is, sadly, norm for most Ndolans.
BIGGBY’s Farm Direct partnership means that we buy the coffee directly from Living Hope at price that is well above the standard contract price. By cutting out all of the brokers and middlemen, the money goes directly to Living Hope. This allows them to reinvest in the orphange and their community with a degree of surity that they will be able to sell next year’s crop at a price that is sustainable.
They are doing the heavy lifting of changing the world. We’re just buying their great coffee at a fair price, serving as their partners in this endeavor by sharing our knowledge, and bringing it to you.
And that is now easier than ever, as Living Hope Ubumi Coffee is now available through BIGGBY’s store on Amazon, as well as at your local BIGGBY Coffee or on line through BIGGBY. You can help to support the work Living Hope does in Ndola simply by buying a bag of coffee. It’s the most delicious way I can think of to make the world a better place.
None of us know exactly what the next few months will bring in terms of the ability travel safely. But we are making tentative plans to go back to Zambia in December. Stay tuned for more updates.