Mount Elgon Coffee and Honey Co-operative

So when I set up Sarah’s Coffee the plan was always to trade directly with producers in Africa so that the money being spent had the biggest impact. That hasn’t really been possible until now.. and so I’m excited at working with the Mount Elgon Coffee and Honey Cooperative based in Mbale, Uganda.

Mount Elgon

 

To find out why I’m so thrilled to have them as my first direct trade hear directly in the words of Wasibi Rogers the impact they are having in Uganda. The abstract below is taken from email correspondence…

“The truth is there is a lot of injustices happening on a daily basis in coffee farming. Just recently I visited 2 new coffee women’s groups and I found out another disturbing story.
Women and children doing stone quarrying to meet family needs.

In Uganda coffee farmers are suffering from a wide range of challenges among them poverty, climate change related disasters (drought, floods, landslides, pests and diseases.
The cultural differences have made the situation even worse for women and children because women and children are taken as property hence making it difficult for them to make decisions on how to share money from coffee sales.
In the Mt Elgon region of Uganda, culturally women don’t own land and yet they’re are the ones who do the donkey work of looking after coffee including harvesting and drying. When it comes to harvesting, it’s husbands who do the marketing and spend all the money.

What are we doing, as a cooperative, we are empowering women by creating awareness and encouraging men to stop seeing women as objects. We have come up with a women’s coffee initiative where men allow women to be trained in the whole coffee value chain and marketing. We buy such coffee at higher price than ordinary coffee. We advise women in making wise investment choices and this project is creating harmony in families. Some men have started valuing their wives because of the roles their wives are now playing.

We are now challenging different coffee stakeholders to take such actions to advance the rights of children and women in the whole coffee value chain for prosperity.

Children living with HIV, Street Children, orphans, children displaced by mudslides, conflict, children living with disability are the key vulnerable groups we have placed at the centre of our coffee agenda.

How we are helping:

  • Health wise, supporting children suffering from intellectual and physical disabilities with learning aids tools and materials, medicine.
    Education wise, sponsorship, sports to children with mental and physical disabilities.
  • Capacity building in improved coffee farming. Provision of inputs to farmers to improve post harvest handling
    Supporting women groups with pulping machines. Drying turbines, bee hives, tools and equipment.

Our Arabica coffee is being produced by women groups from high altitude of Mt Elgon volcanic landscapes producing the best aromatic coffee.

Coffee is giving life and hope to children suffering from intellectual and physical disabilities.

We can provide medication support to our children, we have Musa he has a psychiatric illness and is able to continue on his medication.
Also there is a 12 year old called Mercy who has had grand mal seizures for 11 years she is at the orphanage she fits the profile of a child at risk. She was having 2 seizures a day. She has had an assessment at cure and prescribed meds also had psychiatric evaluation she has taken carbamazepine for a week and the seizures have stopped. Therefore she needs on going support for this medication.
There is another boy at orphanage age 16 who has manic episodes and he needs continued support too.”

So as you can see the work of the Mount Elgon Coffee and Honey Cooperative is a perfect fit for Sarah’s Coffee and with my charity The Cariad Project.

Give Mount Elgon your support by following them on Twitter @CoffeeHoneyCoop and on Facebook and of course you’ll soon be able to buy Mount Elgon Coffee from http://www.sarahscoffee.com

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The Coffee Bean

So lets see.. a lot has happened since my last post. Last year was very much testing the water and finding my feet.. this year I was looking to make some real progress.

With that in mind I have been considering various ways of developing Sarah’s Coffee predominately down the lines of a café or a retail shop. I had looked at several things and nothing seemed right.. then the mews came along.

It was one of those gut instinct things.. I loved the look and the feel of the shop and so to cut a long story short, I’m in! It was done and dusted in a matter of days, someone else was interested in renting it and I just couldn’t miss out.

I love the sunny entrance, which I’ve put some spring colour in.. it has a vine in the corner too, it looks a bit dead but I’m hopeful.. how wonderful to have grapes.. might be making my own wine!

I fell in love with the period fire places.. one in each room. And the second room has a lovely bay style window, perfect for displays. I’ve already got my Christmas window planned!

But then as soon as I’d agreed the nerves set in. What have I done?!

But now I’m in, I know it was the right decision. The shop, which after much deliberation is now called The Coffee Bean is at The Mews in Holywell.

I’m developing the shop as a specialist retail outlet offering an ever changing choice of coffee and all the bits and bobs you need to make a perfect brew at home

There is still much to do, I’ve moved into one room for now and work is being done on the second room. There will be lots of finishing touches needed to bring it all together but a good start has been made. The overall feel will be I hope inviting in a rustic way.. I’ve watched far too many interior design shows!

 

Sarah’s Coffee is functioning as a social enterprise in its support of The Cariad Project but now with the shop I can develop that further.. once more established The Coffee Bean can offer training and volunteer opportunities to people who would normally struggle to get into employment.

To be able to do this would be brilliant in itself but it mirrors so nicely the support the BWIMWA Centre provides in DRC. It will be lovely to have the charity and the business working in harmony.

I’m really excited about this next stage of Sarah’s Coffee and I hope to bring you exciting news next time of The Cariad Project and progress towards our first shipment of equipment ♡

 

Snowdonia Challenge

So I have signed up to complete the 3 day Snowdonia Challenge in June this year. The Cariad Project is a new charity and I am hoping that the challenge might be a way to raise our profile, gain some supporters and maybe raise a little money too. The charity is essentially myself Sarah founder and trustee and my 2 lovely trustees Ann a very talented  teacher and just a bit mad and Tash social media queen and quite a lot mad. Cariad was the working title when I was putting together the idea for the charity, and it just stuck because Love is what the charity is all about.

So if you are new to The Cariad Project, it’s a charity that I have set up with the aim of keeping disability equipment out of landfill here if it can be put to good use at centres that need support in Africa. The first centre I am working with is the BWIMWA Centre in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Under the direction of Hubert Nday Umba and Leon Mwenze Kabongo the centre has a school teaching 136 students with physical disabilities. The 12 teachers are also living with disabilities themselves.

The centre aims to provide social stimulus, medical support and education so that people living with disabilities can be integrated fully into the community and can improve there living conditions. By enabling people with disabilities to develop skills they can go to work and provide for themselves. This in turn reduces begging, risk from violence and unemployment which impacts positively on the individual and on the development of the country.

The centre is doing amazing work in difficult conditions; unlike the medical and education support we take for granted BWIMWA is supporting people despite a lack of equipment and supplies, lack of boarding for students and lack of drinking water.
The Cariad Project will seek to support BWIMWA through the provision of equipment which they have identified would improve the good work they are already doing. The equipment required is a range of medical and therapy items and also training and education materials.

The DRC is a country with so many problems and one that seems sadly forgotten in many ways. I’m determined that it shouldn’t be forgotten. If you join me in completing even just one stage of the Snowdonia Challenge you will be helping me to share with a wider audience the difference that The Cariad Project is wanting to make and also to raise some of the issues a country like DRC faces. I am working initially with BWIMWA and as well as equipment there is so much that can be done to help improve conditions, they have issues with electric, water and boarding for students. A part from BWIMWA there are 6 other centres across the country all supporting people with disabilities. The DRC is a war torn country that is need of some love.. please help if you can.

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Where is this all going?

So I thought I would do a quick update, last years posts were a bit sparse so I’m trying to do better this year! I know my blogs probably aren’t the most exciting but it gives me space to tell you a little more about what I’m up to and I just think if you take the time to support something it’s nice to know what’s going on.  If you have been reading my blogs or following me on Twitter you probably know what I’m doing with The Cariad Project and Sarah’s Coffee.. if you’re new to my blogs you can get a short recap of what I’m doing at sarahscoffee.com/the-cariad-project

Right now things are a little frustrating in terms of the charity, and I thought I’d share this because if you are planning on setting up a charity working abroad it’s something to consider. Although overtime I hope to support various centres or organisations across Africa the first centre I am supporting is in DRC. Because of this I have been turned down several times by banks for a charity account. Because of ongoing violence and human rights violations DRC is a sanctioned country. Sanctions are restrictive measures imposed to curtail activities and exert pressure. And as such anyone wanting to work in sanctioned countries are subject to tight measures and controls to adhere to the restrictions and guard against money laundering.

This is a frustrating stumbling block because the reasons why I’m being impeded are the exact reasons why this country needs support. The disability equipment I’m trying to send is much needed.  I am on my third application and currently getting advice, it might be a case of having to work differently but nothing worth while was ever easy as they say.

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A few times when I was out at events last year I had people making comments about how charity begins at home. It always frustrates me when people say that because I think it does.. it’s just I view home to be a bigger place than maybe some people do. But it also frustrates me because my plans are to support people here in the UK too but I never usually get chance to explain. So I thought I’d share my plans for the future with you and how I hope to maximise social impact both here and in Africa.

The aim for Sarah’s Coffee is to help generate some income for the charity but it is more than that. In keeping with the ethos of making a positive difference to people I only sell fairly traded coffee products but in the future the aim is that most will have been purchased directly from producers. This is a necessity to ensure that Sarah’s Coffee has the greatest positive impact as a social enterprise supporting people in Africa and not just as income generator for the charity. Why aren’t I doing that right now? Just economies of scale and logistics, the more coffee I sell the easier this will be.

But the plan is also for Sarah’s Coffee to benefit people in the UK. It will eventually establish a retail outlet or café which will offer training and employment to people who would otherwise find it hard to access these opportunities.

By employing staff who might normally struggle to get into work, and also offering opportunities to volunteer, develop confidence, learn skills and achieve qualifications I will get maximum social impact from my venture. It mirrors the work that the centre the charity is supporting in DRC is doing in providing education and training to people and it gives Sarah’s Coffee and The Cariad Project the perfect symmetry.

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Obviously all this will take some time, it’s not going to happen over night and as you know I do all this while working a day job and this year I will need to focus a little on me and how I balance all this. Some of the how I achieve my goals might have to be tweaked and I might have to be fluid with my thinking but especially when things aren’t going quite to plan I like to just take stock and remind myself why I’m doing this and what I want to achieve.. it just gives me that little push to keep going. And as always, thank you to all the lovely people who support me in all the different ways, you are all amazing.

 

The BWIMWA Centre

I wanted to share with you some images of the centre that The Cariad Project is supporting in the Democratic Republic of Congo. There have been some obstacles thrown up this week and it can get frustrating but when I watch the clips of video of the centre it just reminds me why this is so important.

You can see the full video clip at sarahscoffee.com/the-cariad-project

 

Happy New Year!

So welcome to 2018, and I’m so excited about this coming 12 months.

I guess a quick recap is in order… last spring Sarah’s Coffee officially launched with my website, summer saw me out and about at various events and by autumn The Cariad Project had charitable organisation status. Winter saw my eBay shop develop, some very cold Christmas events! And a lovely surprise; a Community Endeavour Award from my local council.

So 2018… well I’ve dropped a day now in my full time job so I can focus on moving things along. Getting Sarah’s Coffee established and on a firm footing for growth has been key because going forward it’s going to be from the profits of Sarah’s Coffee that The Cariad Project will be able to carry out it’s work. I’ll be at a lot more events this year to sell my coffee and raise Cariads profile.

This year will be all about The Cariad Project.. while Sarah’s Coffee is still growing I will need to seek grants and donations to help purchase a container, fill it with equipment and send it to the Democratic Republic of Congo. The BWIMWA Centre in DRC is the first centre that Cariad will support. They help 130 students with disabilities to maintain their independence. It’s vital work to ensure that young people have skills to work and build a better life for themselves. Cariad will support by sending equipment that the centre have identified as being beneficial to their work and which is in short supply.. mobility equipment and aids, teaching and training materials, computers.. these are all things we take for granted in our schools and colleges.

I am now seeking donations of equipment to start filling the container.. I’m looking for used equipment in good condition.. if you think you can help with anything please get in touch!

I have some fundraisers coming up too.. a charity football match with the North Wales Dragons in April and I’ll be doing the 100k Snowdonia Challenge in June.

Last year built the foundation and I guess I’m so excited about this year because to get that first container of equipment to the BWIMWA centre, where it will really make a difference will just be amazing!

I hope you all have a happy and successful 2018 ♡

 

 

 

It’s all official now!

So The Cariad Project is now a registered charity.. number 1174491 as of the 4th September 2017. I’m so pleased, no matter if its money or equipment donated or coffee bought, it really is going to be making a difference. And more importantly now there is an accountability that comes from being registered to make sure that money or equipment is used effectively. Of course that was always going to happen but it gives the public that reassurance.Now that I have Cariad registered I can crack on with collecting equipment. The charity is set up so that I can support people across Africa but the first centre I am supporting is in Kamina, Democratic Republic of Congo. The BWIMWA Centre helps people with disabilities to learn skills to ensure that they can gain employment and lead fulfilling lives.

To support them I’ll be collecting a range of mobility and physio equipment and also equipment to support training such as computers and school supplies.

The vision for The Cariad Project is not only to send equipment but in the future to help with some of the issues the centre has due to lack of water and electric.. and eventually to facilitate exchange and volunteer programmes.

How can you help.. well I’ll need to raise money to do all this and you can help by doing your online shopping via The Giving Machine and choosing The Cariad Project as your cause.. it costs you nothing but each time you shop Cariad will receive a donation.

https://www.thegivingmachine.co.uk/causes/the-cariad-project

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Or you can buy coffee from my website sarahscoffee.com .. the site is slowly growing, my own brand coffee range has increased and you can now buy Grumpy Mule coffee too. The plan is to gradually increase the range but all coffee stocked will be from ethically minded companies.

The vision for Sarah’s Coffee is that eventually the majority of the coffee will be from direct trade with small cooperatives in Africa. It’s important to me that the trading arm of Cariad will also make a difference to people’s lives in Africa.

And it’s not all about Africa.. my background is in training and teaching as well as care. So eventually I’d like a cafe where I can train and employ disadvantaged people from my local community. That might be young people or the homeless and older people.. anyone who would ordinarily struggle to gain employment.

So I have big plans.. and it’s not a short journey and it starts with small steps but I hope you’ll join me on the way ♡

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Anything worth doing takes time…

I thought I would bring you an update… I cleverly published an update earlier in the week.. but it was blank! Apologies..

Ok, so where are we.. well some things are moving nicely.. some are slow, such is life! A quick recap for those not familiar with what I’m trying to do.. the UK has a surplus of unwanted disability equipment. I want to send that equipment somewhere it can be used and make a difference. The ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo has produced a need but it has also made access to equipment difficult.

The Cariad Project is simple; gather equipment here, send it there. Ok, might be a bit more complicated. Sadly people in the Congo have been so let down by charities, from corruption and so forth that they are sadly reluctant to engage. And I need that engagement to ensure that the equipment gets to the people who need it. So this is where progress is slow and will take a little time to get right.

So what is moving.. well the paperwork to get The Cariad Project charitable organisation status is nearly done. This will enable me to seek some grant funding to cover transportation costs etc.. it’s also important in that it reassures people that any donations made are going to the project and myself and the other trustees are accountable for putting that money to good use.

So I’ll seek donations and grants but these days a charity needs to make itself as sustainable as possible so Cariad needs its own income.. hence Sarah’s Coffee. Sarah’s Coffee is Cariads trading arm.. it sells coffee online with all profits going into Cariad. I like the fact that with Sarah’s Coffee you’re donating to Cariad but you’re also getting something out of it.

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The coffee is lovely, all with distinctive flavours and I have some very happy customers! Feedback has been positive which is great and people have shared what they’d like to see also… and that will inform new additions to the website in the coming months.

Sarah’s Coffee is moving along nicely.. I have some local community coffee shops who are interested in taking stock and I will be attending several events over the summer so do come and say hi!

To make it easy for people to donate.. maybe they don’t like coffee.. can’t see it but you never know.. I have set The Cariad Project up a Just Giving Page       https://t.co/CHu5ch7TfE

The project is also registered with The Giving Machine so if you register with them and choose The Cariad Project then every time you shop online through The Giving Machine the project receives a donation.. at no cost to you!                        https://www.thegivingmachine.co.uk/causes/the-cariad-project

So there you go.. a little update. Because this is a new project I want you to know how it’s progressing.. if you are kind enough to support me in whatever way it’s important to me that you are kept in the loop. I’ll share when things go well and when it’s a struggle because life’s not perfect.. but if you have something you’re passionate about then it’s always worth it ♡

Website launched

So this might actually happen!

Sarahscoffee.com has gone online today, I’ve had amazing support to get this venture up and running. It’s quite over whelming.

Do have a look at the website and investigate the coffees available. I’ve stocked a small selection of 5 beautiful coffees initially. I have chosen another 5 which should be available in the next couple of months.

Remember all profits go to The Cariad Project supporting people with disabilities in DRC.