Thursday, February 2, 2012

Don Justo Coffee with Dignity

I was recently asked to write a little ditty for our Don Justo Coffee with Dignity coordinator in Iowa.  I think I’d like to share it with you.  For those of you who know the coffee and already enjoy it but are not ‘in the loop’ of emails when it comes time to order, it might encourage you to drink more. 

For those of you who do NOT know the project – maybe it will motivate you to investigate and start purchasing and enjoying it yourself.

Briefly –Don Justo Coffee with Dignity is a project in support of the work of the Pastoral House – it is “fairly traded” – we cannot say we are a Fair Trade product because we are not actually certified as fair trade.   We do, however, follow the international standards of fair trade.  And take it a step beyond perhaps. 

Don Justo Coffee with Dignity is organic.  The producer receives more than the going rate for fair trade coffee.  In addition to the fair payment, the producer does not pay for bags, labels, shipping, etc.  The producer pays their workers more than the average price per pound than other coffee farms on the mountain.   There is only one modestly paid middle man (well – a married couple actually) who coordinate the promotion and sales in Iowa.  The proceeds from sales – after all those things are paid by the project (the bags, labels, shipping, etc.) come back to El Salvador to support community projects here.  In the past, those projects have included the purchase of water collection tanks for families, repair of community water tanks, fertilizer purchases, roof reparation for schools, community centers, and churches, food packets for a couple of groups of old folks, chair purchases for 4 different community leadership groups, donations to church committees for food and/or travel to church events, financial assistance for funeral expenses for several families throughout the year, roofing or heavy plastic to help ‘leak-proof’ a few homes, etc.

Our little slogan is:  It is not just a cup of coffee … it is a JUST cup of coffee.

Here is an excerpt from the most recent message sent to some of our clients.

“This is a new year – and we are already off and running in good directions.  Every New Year the Pastoral Team gathers to evaluate the old year and think about the new.  Always we think of ways to improve upon what we are trying to do.  None of us are perfect – and mission is an ever-evolving effort.  Thank God we are not stagnant!  And thank God we are not alone!  Thank God we have Him to guide us.  We pray for wisdom to hear His will for us: and how He sees our call to help build His kingdom.  After that we pray for strength to follow through!

This year we will be focusing on new efforts.  Not that the old efforts were bad mind you.    But we are concerned about the youth.  And work.  There simply is none. You would be saddened to hear how many young people only complete up to 4th or 6th grade because it is just too far to have to walk to 7th grade – literally, it could be a 5 mile walk.  The youth who are lucky enough to succeed in obtaining a high school diploma often end up back in the fields with their cumas (like a curved machete).

So we want to focus more on self-development within the communities.  It is beautiful to give a tangible gift (a new church, a community house, fertilizer, a new fence for this or that, etc.) – but we would like to take advantage of all the different trainings and workshops that are being provided by NGO’s like InterVida, ProComes and ProVida.  With the training that some groups have, we want to encourage them to form again, become organized and begin to think about how they can put into practice what they have learned.  And if they can organize themselves – to then present us with a solicitude so we can then present that to their partner church who just might be able to support them with some start-up materials – which is the biggest hurdle.  The idea is – if a trained group can obtain start up materials – they can produce goods to sell and become self-sustaining in time.  We are hoping to help form mini-cooperatives.

So what does all this have to do with you – our beloved Don Justo coffee drinkers - and especially those of you who help promote it within your churches or businesses and friends? 

There are communities that we work with and support that DO NOT have a partner church to help them. 

You know that every time you buy yourself a pound of Don Justo – the proceeds from that purchase end up back here at the Pastoral House.  With those funds we are able to help out with the random needs of those un-partnered communities.  Their needs are actually greater than those who have partners – for obvious reasons. 

So drink up.  Your cup of coffee may be helping a youth group or women’s group with start-up funds for hammock making … or candy making … or a mini-bakery … or natural medicines … or … let your imagination soar.   It may not make people rich – but it will be cooperative work in groups – creating a little bit of income for their families and helping provide a little dignity and self-worth as these humble people see that they can begin to provide for themselves.  Sometimes all it takes is a wee bit of funds and a gentle push of encouragement.

Thank you for doing your part – helping with the funds by drinking and supporting Don Justo.  We will do our part by giving that gentle push of not just encouragement – but advice on how to begin and maintain such an endeavor.

Here in faith and with hope,
Kathy and the Pastoral Team”

If you want to order some please email Betty and Maurice at

They are the most delightful people you will ever meet and will do all they can to get some coffee to you!  They live in central Iowa, but they can ship to other states.  And if you want to get your church involved in supporting this, they can arrange a visit to your mission committee - or those who would be interested in becoming involved.  Several churches have a coffee kiosk in their foyers for their congregation members to make purchases easily! 

Drinking coffee is a really easy way to support mission. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kathy, how wonderful all the things that the you and the pastoral team would like to accomplish with the proceeds from the coffee project. So yes lets all drink up. But lets not forget that the pastoral teams salary um i mean recognition is also funded by the coffee proceeds.