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Holly Says Goodbye, Jenais Says Hi

Dear Friends,

It is with mixed emotions that I write to formally announce that I will be leaving my position with Thanksgiving Coffee Company. Some of you may know from following my adventures in Uganda that I’ve had a long-standing interest in medicine and serving the under represented. Within this context, I am ecstatic to announce that I will be attending the VA Commonwealth University’s Accelerated Master’s Degree Program in Nursing to become a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner. Within my joy, however, is a deep sorrow at having to move on from a most inspiring line of work. It has been an honor and privilege to share the dream and work for peace, social justice, and sustainable economic development with you.

I am pleased to introduce Jenais Zarlin as the new Mirembe Kawomera Project Director. The following are a few words from her:

“I am excited to be joining the Thanksgiving team in a capacity that uniquely combines my passion and professional experience: social justice and food systems. Holly has worked diligently to share the inspiring story of the Mirembe Kawomera cooperative and her efforts have resulted in a strong community committed to spreading peace through tolerance. She leaves big shoes to fill, but I look forward to getting to know all of you and to continue sharing this message of peace and poverty alleviation together. ”

I’m sincerely grateful for the last four years I have worked with you. I’ve learned more about coffee, true friendship, and what can happen when a network of dedicated people harness their power throughout the world for something important- change; and for this I am indebted. I have confidence that Jenais will serve you and the farmers in magnificent ways and take the Mirembe Kawomera Coffee project to new heights.

With utmost appreciation,

Holly Moskowitz

Please feel free to stay in touch. I can be reached at VWILcycler@yahoo.com and on Facebook.

Holly Says Goodbye, Jenais Says Hi

Dear Friends,

It is with mixed emotions that I write to formally announce that I will be leaving my position with Thanksgiving Coffee Company. Some of you may know from following my adventures in Uganda that I’ve had a long-standing interest in medicine and serving the under represented. Within this context, I am ecstatic to announce that I will be attending the VA Commonwealth University’s Accelerated Master’s Degree Program in Nursing to become a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner. Within my joy, however, is a deep sorrow at having to move on from a most inspiring line of work. It has been an honor and privilege to share the dream and work for peace, social justice, and sustainable economic development with you.

I am pleased to introduce Jenais Zarlin as the new Mirembe Kawomera Project Director. The following are a few words from her:

“I am excited to be joining the Thanksgiving team in a capacity that uniquely combines my passion and professional experience: social justice and food systems. Holly has worked diligently to share the inspiring story of the Mirembe Kawomera cooperative and her efforts have resulted in a strong community committed to spreading peace through tolerance. She leaves big shoes to fill, but I look forward to getting to know all of you and to continue sharing this message of peace and poverty alleviation together. ”

I’m sincerely grateful for the last four years I have worked with you. I’ve learned more about coffee, true friendship, and what can happen when a network of dedicated people harness their power throughout the world for something important- change; and for this I am indebted. I have confidence that Jenais will serve you and the farmers in magnificent ways and take the Mirembe Kawomera Coffee project to new heights.

With utmost appreciation,

Holly Moskowitz

Please feel free to stay in touch. I can be reached at VWILcycler@yahoo.com and on Facebook.

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The Bean and Human Enterprise: Not Just Another Cup of Coffee

Please join me in welcoming Maury Gloster;   guest writer,   friend, and coffee aficionado.   Maury, his wife Ibby, and daughter Michelle, a freshman home from college on spring break, visited Thanksgiving Coffee after many back-and-forth emails, phone conversations, and calendar checks.   It was great showing them the inside workings of Thanksgiving, and hearing their passion for the projects, movement, and future of global sustainability .   Thank you Maury, Ibby, and Michelle, and to you – the reader of this post.

Holly

THE BEAN AND HUMAN ENTERPRISE: NOT JUST ANOTHER CUP OF COFFEE by Maury Gloster

Let’s be clear. My wife and I are coffee aficionados and our daughter is beginning to follow a similar path. It is not difficult to engage us in discussion about coffee, or drinking coffee, nor are we hesitant to try new varieties. We are long past the point when, during years of arduous education and training, coffee’s value proposition was its stimulatory effect. Now, it’s just simply pleasurable.

So, a few years ago, we Sacramentans found ourselves standing in front of a rack of Thanksgiving Coffee offerings in the Mendocino Bakery, deliberating about what would be best to choose for brewing during our stay in Mendocino. A fellow, recognizing our indecision, suddenly appeared from behind the food counter to engage us in conversation about a wide variety of topics, with all at least remotely related to coffee. That was one Paul Katzeff, owner of Thanksgiving Coffee. Over the ensuing 45 minutes, spent mostly listening to Paul, we were regaled with stories, admonitions and caveats about growing coffee plants, preserving forests and protecting song birds of Central America, plane rides with Sandanistas and the superior taste and finish of light and medium brew roasts compared with the far less sophisticatation of our characteristic preference, the deep, dark roast. We were enlightened and entertained. And then we bought a deep, dark roast.

We’ve been devotees of Thanksgiving Coffee and its coffees ever since. The brew is one thing—the mission is the other. Paul has leveraged his career and passion for social work into a business that supports the disadvantaged, the ravaged, the forgotten and the irreplaceable elements of our environment. And he uses the success of his growing business to heighten our awareness of social, economic and environmental issues while bringing tangible assets to peoples from Latin America to Africa. You just have to examine his business pro forma, or simply peruse the Thanksgiving Coffee website, to gain insight into this unique blending of coffee and mission.

So, it was against this background that a few days ago our family of three visited Thanksgiving Coffee. Arriving in the mist of a March Monday morning, we were greeted by Holly Moskowitz, a key ambassador of the Thanksgiving Coffee outreach, in particular to those growing coffee beans on a Ugandan cooperative incorporating followers of Islam, Judaism and Christianity and benefiting in a variety of ways from the helping hand extended by Thanksgiving Coffee. Holly has educated members of the coop on HIV/AIDs and diabetes, befriended its peoples and represented what is the best of America as it supports those easily ignored or forgotten. Spend a moment scanning Holly’s impressive photographic collection of her days in Uganda on the Thanksgiving Coffee website and you’ll get the idea.

And Paul has designed his business model to return a portion of the profits he earns from buying the coop’s beans and selling its coffee in a unique circuitry that merits recognition to match the appreciation, easily reviewed on the website, expressed by coop members. It’s a passion and a raison d’etre for Paul and it shows. Just spend a few minutes with him.

This is not to say that the Ugandan project is a stand-alone. Notably, the Thanksgiving Coffee reach is across continents and causes, aiding peoples and the world in which they—and, ultimately, we—live. For example, if you raze tropical forests to grow coffee beans, you desecrate the nature of the land and, at the same time, destroy the habitat of song birds. An alternative is learning to grow coffee plants in the shade, thus balancing nature with enterprise. But you have to care to make it happen, enlist the skills, talent and sacrifice of people of similar mind, and create the economic engine that sees the mission through. Paul has assembled those elements and has maintained a variety of missions through years of endeavor.

Our visit to Thanksgiving was further punctuated by a “cupping” set for us by Holly and her colleague Ben Corey-Moran, who provided us education, insight and discoveries about coffee that otherwise would have been unreachable. We had the opportunity to smell and taste coffee roasts of beans from a wide range of geographies, all the while learning to appreciate the differences, great and small, among them. The opportunity, offered in the context of shared coffee passion, was singular and deeply appreciated.

“No coffee, no mission”, Paul told us. To be sure, he operates a business whose success allows him to fulfill his drive to support and to protect. Fortunately, Thanksgiving Coffee offers a variety of roasts that are easy to embrace, so contributing to a greater good through purchase of its coffees comes with little challenge. The choice is always there: enjoy or enjoy and give back. Paul and his Thanksgiving Coffee family have provided us with the opportunity to both satisfy our conscience and our love for great coffee.

But just don’t let him catch you with a dark roast.

Ibby, Michelle, and Maury cupping coffee at Thanksgiving

Ibby, Michelle, and Maury cupping coffee at Thanksgiving

Meet the Youth of Peace Kawomera

Children singing, playing, laughing, burdened by reality, hopeful for chance, thirsty for knowledge, yearning to be heard and understood.   Meet the Youth of Peace Kawomera.

The second project I completed in Uganda was a note card project for the O Ambassadors program. For about a year, I have been corresponding with Nadja Atkinson, an Oprah Ambassador from Miami, Florida. Before I left, she and I spoke about ways to open her students’ eyes to life in Uganda, inspire, and motivate them to take action.

Nadja has been a wonderful supporter of the Peace Kawomera Cooperative, and when I told our friends in Uganda that our goal was to bridge the gap between cultures, provide Ugandan youth with the opportunity tell their story, and hopefully connect with Oprah, the farmers and their children were very excited to participate.

The only instructions I gave to the youth were to write their name, age, village, and “something about me” on a note card I provided. Then I collected the cards and took a photo of the student with their card. Those who were too young to write drew pictures. Everyone was eager to share a part of him or herself.   Students asked if they could take cards home for their siblings and neighbors, and promised to bring them back as if it were a life and death matter.   To them, their stories and opportunity to be heard were.

I’m proud to share some of their photos and cards with you.   Please,   Meet the Youth of Peace Kawomera.

In addition to providing Nadja’s students and you with a glimpse into Ugandan life, our ultimate goal is to have Oprah read the cards and see the photos. Maybe with time, the villages of Peace Kawomera can become affiliated with Oprah’s education network. Most of the cards say something about the desire to learn and the struggles faced by students to pay fees. As we all know, education is the window to the world.

Fair Trade pays above market price for the harvest.   This extra money is usually used by families to pay for school fees, uniforms, and materials.   Many children who were unable to attend school in the past are now able to thanks to Fair Trade prices.   However, the average family in Uganda supports 8 children.   While the system helps a great deal, there isn’t always enough to go around.

In the Meet the Farmers section of our site, you can read stories from farmers on how fair trade has provided extra money and with that money how many families are now able to send some of their children to school.

In peace,
Holly Moskowitz

Meet the Farmers of Peace Kawomera

While I was in Uganda, I conducted nearly two dozen interviews with farmers from the Peace Kawomera Cooperative.   It was fascinating to hear their stories, and I am pleased to share their joys, struggles, challenges, and hopes with you.   The questions I asked pertained to issues of human rights, fair trade, and faith based relations in an interfaith coffee cooperative context.

 

Click on the individual links below to read each story, or visit   “Meet the Farmers” on the Mirembe website (in “The Story” tab) .

I sincerely thank the farmers for providing a pathway and allowing us to enter their world. I invited them to share with me so I could in turn share with you.   Please take a few minutes to meet the incredible human beings who grow the Delicious Peace coffee you hopefully drink every morning.

Abdu Karim *           Abudu Kadambi *       Alamaza Mabende

Dan Kasakya *       Danieli Magonya *                 Erishama Lunjaya

Hadija Naibisi *         Hadija Wankusi *         Hajira Nakandi

Jalia Nakenzi *       Kadija Lackahi *     Khainza Jane

Mbirago Muhammud *   Natega Charles *     Rashidt Muzinzibali

Sinina Namudosi *     Sofia Nandudu *         Wadundu Davdi

Wafuba Taibu *         Wilson Kyebo *         Yolam Were

JJ Keki *                     Athalia Deborah *             Fende Aziz,

Nakidodo Alisati *         Nehemia Hasakya *         Wotti Elisa

In peace and human relations,

Holly Moskowitz

Meet the Youth

Children singing, playing, laughing, burdened by reality, hopeful for chance, thirsty for knowledge, yearning to be heard and understood. Meet the Youth of Peace Kawomera.

The second project I completed in Uganda was a note card project for the O Ambassadors program. For about a year, I have been corresponding with Nadja Atkinson, an Oprah Ambassador from Miami, Florida. Before I left, she and I spoke about ways to open her students’ eyes to life in Uganda, inspire, and motivate them to take action.

Nadja has been a wonderful supporter of the Peace Kawomera Cooperative, and when I told our friends in Uganda that our goal was to bridge the gap between cultures, provide Ugandan youth with the opportunity tell their story, and hopefully connect with Oprah, the farmers and their children were very excited to participate.

The only instructions I gave to the youth were to write their name, age, village, and “something about me” on a note card I provided. Then I collected the cards and took a photo of the student with their card. Those who were too young to write drew pictures. Everyone was eager to share a part of him or herself. Students asked if they could take cards home for their siblings and neighbors, and promised to bring them back as if it were a life and death matter. To them, their stories and opportunity to be heard were.

I’m proud to share some of their photos and cards with you. Please, Meet the Youth of Peace Kawomera.

In addition to providing Nadja’s students and you with a glimpse into Ugandan life, our ultimate goal is to have Oprah read the cards and see the photos. Maybe with time, the villages of Peace Kawomera can become affiliated with Oprah’s education network. Most of the cards say something about the desire to learn and the struggles faced by students to pay fees. As we all know, education is the window to the world.

Fair Trade pays above market price for the harvest. This extra money is usually used by families to pay for school fees, uniforms, and materials. Many children who were unable to attend school in the past are now able to thanks to Fair Trade prices. However, the average family in Uganda supports 8 children. While the system helps a great deal, there isn’t always enough to go around.

In the Meet the Farmers section of our site, you can read stories from farmers on how fair trade has provided extra money and with that money how many families are now able to send some of their children to school.

In peace,
Holly Moskowitz

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Farmer Interviews are Posted

While I was in Uganda, I conducted nearly two dozen interviews with farmers from the Peace Kawomera Cooperative. It was fascinating to hear their stories, and I am pleased to share their joys, struggles, challenges, and hopes with you. The questions I asked pertained to issues of human rights, fair trade, and faith based relations in an interfaith coffee cooperative context.

Please “Meet the Farmers” of Peace Kawomera.

I sincerely thank the farmers for providing a pathway and allowing us to enter their world. I invited them to share with me so I could in turn share with you. Please take a few minutes to meet the incredible human beings who grow the Delicious Peace coffee you hopefully drink every morning.

Abdu Karim * Abudu Kadambi * Alamaza Mabende

Dan Kasakya * Danieli Magonya * Erishama Lunjaya

Hadija Naibisi * Hadija Wankusi * Hajira Nakandi

Jalia Nakenzi * Kadija Lackahi * Khainza Jane

Mbirago Muhammud * Natega Charles * Rashidt Muzinzibali

Sinina Namudosi * Sofia Nandudu * Wadundu Davdi

Wafuba Taibu * Wilson Kyebo * Yolam Were

JJ Keki * Athalia Deborah * Fende Aziz,

Nakidodo Alisati * Nehemia Hasakya * Wotti Elisa

In peace and human relations,

Holly Moskowitz

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Uganda Project 3 – Healthcare Workshop

Appreciation and gratitude are just two words that come to mind when I recall the farmers’ reaction when I told them Thanksgiving Coffee Co. would facilitate a health education workshop focusing on HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and high blood pressure. I made this announcement during my first week with the Cooperative, and scheduled the workshop for 2 weeks later. For two weeks, the workshop was the talk of the town.

I started the workshop with a simple introduction: We want you to be healthy so you feel good about living life. Medications can be expensive, so let’s try to prevent illness. You have shown the world how much you love your coffee trees through the quality of your harvest. You take care of them and protect them. Why? Because they will provide for your future. But what about your own future? You should take care of yourself in the same way you take care of your trees. You should grow strong, be healthy, and live a quality life. If you are healthy, you can continue to spread the message of peace in the world and produce beautiful coffee.

Dr. Liz Feldman, a physician who specializes in Adolescent Medicine and Family Practice from Chicago led the session and Johnbosco of Peace Kawomera translated. I give major props to Johnbosco for improvising when necessary, or at least when he thought relevant. Once, Liz was talking about the ABCs of “safe sex:” Abstinence, Be Faithful, and Condoms. When Johnbosco was done translating, he started a small striptease. Liz and I looked at each other, for all of her clothes were on. When he finished unbuttoning and rebuttoning his shirt we asked what just happened. He explained that in order to be safe and squared away, people have to act like buttons and holes. One button per hole, and always the same button in the corresponding hole. If you try to button your shirt and put a button in the wrong hole, it just doesn’t work out the way it’s supposed to: he demonstrated – again. Johnbosco was on to something. This lesson became the “One Button One Hole” Campaign. It was hilarious, and brilliant. I hope this episode wasn’t lost in translation.

The farmers asked wonderful questions and everyone left with a better understanding of HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

As part of the follow-up to the workshop, the local AIDS support group returned to the Cooperative and offered HIV testing and counseling. The turn up was fair, considering it was the first time the Cooperative offered this service. People between the ages of 17 and 60 took advantage of the testing. More married women attended than men, and more young women than their male counterparts. Diabetes testing also took place on the same day.

The workshop was incredible. I’m grateful for Dr. Liz and Johnbosco, and for all the farmers who took the time to learn about caring for their future.

To a happy and healthy 09!

Holly Moskowitz

health-workshop.jpg Dr. Liz and Johnbosco teaching/translating at the healthcare workshop for farmers of Peace Kawomera

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Uganda Project 1 – Farmer Interviews and Photo Link

Hello to everyone reading,

I apologize for letting so much time lapse since my last post. I’ve been struggling to find the right words to describe Uganda and my experiences. The people who inspire through and despite constant daily hardships, the land which Churchill dubbed the Pearl of Africa, and an ever-strong attitude of hope for the moment and for a better future have left me speechless.

For those who believe a picture is worth a thousand words, please feel free to visit my online photo albums My words may not do Uganda justice, but some photos come close.

The first project I worked while in Uganda was conducting interviews with farmers of Peace Kawomera. Most of the questions had to do with life before the co-op was formed vs. life as it is now. I asked questions about Fair Trade, human rights and interfaith issues, and hopes for the future. All the interviews will be posted in our Meet the Farmers section of our website, but for now, here are a few responses:

What was life like before Peace Kawomera? Life was not moving well because we were poor. But Peace Kawomera came and life has changed from a life of poverty to a life that is OK.

What does the Peace Kawomera Cooperative mean to you and your family? We love it so much because of the quality they require. The price is also very good. People who work with Peace Kawomera are like wives; they are always faithful. They don’t cheat us. The Cooperative is always there for us when we need her.

What does Fair Trade mean to you?
I can pay school fees and help my body. You can’t pay fees if you are starving. Being homeless doesn’t help either, so Fair Trade helps a great bit.

Fairly traded products are not the majority of products that are sold in the US. Do you think Americans would stop buying UNFAIRLY traded products if they knew more about Fair Trade? Fair Trade increases quality and aroma of coffee. If people bought Fair Trade coffee they would receive higher quality. Given the mission of Peace Kawomera Cooperative of interfaith, people should buy more to build peace in the country and world.

What was interfaith life like before Peace Kawomera formed? Before there was much segregation, but now we are in unity with one another.

How would many farmers be living now had they not been exposed to the benefits of Fair Trade? Peace Kawomera keeps people informed. There are many trainings through Peace Kawomera. Before Peace Kawomera, the agenda was solely coffee. Now they have expanded to mosquito/malaria prevention, advice on nets, diabetes education and HIV/AIDS workshops and testing.

How have the relationships among people of different faiths changed since forming the cooperative? Before there was a friendship, now it is like a brotherhood and sisterhood of relating to each other.

More to come…

In Peace,
Holly Moskowitz

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