The Cafe Femenino Foundation's "A Coffee Child's Christmas" is an annual program aiming to truly make it a Feliz Navidad for the children in poverty-stricken coffee communities. The children receive hot chocolate, Christmas bread and books for their school. While it seems like so little to us, we can see by the shy smiles on their faces that it brings tremendous joy!
Funding for this program is sent out in early December, so get your donations in early:
|Nine year-old Elena Guerrero Araujo reads her letter to the Cafe Femenino Foundation at the "Chocolatada" in San Antonio Peru, December 2008. Click on the letter to see the full size version.|
A New Christmas
In my village of Progreso San Antonio, we spend Christmas Day very happy. All the children get together to sing very emotionally many carols until after 9pm in the night. To all the children they bring delicious tasting tamales or tortillas with honey and then we return to singing once again. The adults are happy because of the happiness in the church.
But also we feel sad because we do not receive any gifts. On the radio we hear about the children in the cities receiving toys and eating delicious Christmas breads and putting on their new clothes and all the grown ups are thinking about the children on this special day.
How I would love to hear that in our village we are equal to the cities and all the children to have new clothes and we would feel happy and not so sad because there is no gift of a toy. But in the end we make our own toys like beautiful dolls from the plantain leaves that we paint with brown clothes and we play very happy and for this I feel happy. But maybe you can give us a gift or maybe we can try the Christmas bread under the light of a little candle. I am writing to you under a little tree to tell you the all the children are very happy for this activity and we would like to thank you very much for this year giving us a new Christmas.
Elena Guerrero Araujo
It wasn't held in a ballroom of a fancy downtown hotel and there was not a waiter carrying a silver platter full of appetizers to be seen for miles --but we enjoyed this time like no other.
Heading out on the dusty road north by northeast, in two Toyota Hiluxes filled with supplies in brown boxes, Gay, Marilyn, Dustin and I, from the USA team and Isabel, Marco and Renario from the Peruvian team left out from Chiclayo in the very early morning anxious to start the first 16 hour leg of our journey to San Antonio. Once there, we would be delivering the first of three Christmas parties - known as Chocolatadas – to the children of some of the most isolated communities in the Amazon basin of Peru. We were going because it is here that Café Femenino is produced and it is from here that the women of the program have asked us to come.
The Chocolatada, an annual event, funded and supported by the Café Femenino Foundation, takes place in several quiet remote villages and for many, it is the highlight of the year and indeed the Christmas season. It was originated by Isabel Uriarte, a board member of the Peruvian Café Femenino Foundation and its simple mission is to bring pure happiness for an afternoon to the children.
The beauty of the day pales in comparison to the beauty of the village that welcomes us with open arms, literally, and open hearts. They have prepared an afternoon of songs, poetry, dancing and inspirational speeches. Finally, the children are instructed to line up, with cup in hand, brought from home, and to arrange themselves youngest to oldest. They do so excitedly, helping each other, laughing and smiling with great anticipation of the wonderful treat they are about to receive.
The wonderful treat is a single cup of hot cocoa and a piece of Pantone bread to eat.
This very simple gift of cocoa and Pantone is to them a celebration they wait for all year long. With huge smiles they collect their bounty and head off to a spot on the ground to sit and enjoy. Their parents watch them and are pleased. For one afternoon the children of this community where Papa Noel does not come; has never come, will forget about what they do not have. Instead, they will get to just be kids.
As we leave, packing up into the trucks, they are full of gracias, thankful words for us. What they can never understand is how much it meant for us and the supporters of the Café Femenino Foundation.
This program is an annual event sponsored by the Café Femenino Foundation with generous support from several coffee industry organizations. It is called "A Coffee Child's Christmas" program. It began several years ago when the owners of OPTCO looked at how much money they were spending to send fruit baskets to various roasters as Christmas gifts. It occurred to Gay that the amount of money they were spending to send peanut brittle and bon-bons to clients who may or may not want more goodies in their offices was enough to do something really good for the coffee farmers in Peru. And with that notion, A Coffee Child's Christmas was launched and continues to this day.
Our heart-felt gratitude goes out to the coffee industry that supports us and partners with us to bring a day of simple happiness to the children of Café Femenino.