Our human compassion binds us the one to the other - not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.
Coffee isn’t just a drink that powers our day, it’s a drink that empowers us to share. Whether it’s meeting an old friend, or meeting someone for the first time, the stories we share over coffee inspire meaningful relationships and spark new connections. As you take a sip of your morning coffee, meet Dukale Cheko, who has his own story to share of determination and hope for the future.
“My name is Dukale, I am a 27 year old coffee farmer. I live in Kochere. A few years ago we were struggling just to survive. But now I am planning for the future. Although my community and family do need assistance, I do not want things just given to me. What I really need is to develop my own knowledge, my own skills, so that I can be my own man.”
Dukale and his wife, Adanech, have five children and live in the Kochere region of Ethiopia. From sunup to sundown Dukale is hard at work; from tending to his family’s renewable biogas generator, to harvesting the coffee cherries and countless other responsibilities carried by a small coffee farmer.
In 2013, World Vision ambassadors Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee took part in a film that documented a six-year journey taken to witness the World Vision initiative that is empowering coffee farmers in Ethiopia. The trip took on extra significance as the two visited Dukale & his family.
“At the end of our time working together, we went to my garden, and I showed Hugh how to plant coffee trees. We named the trees after his two children. It was a great honour to share the earth together. And now I will cultivate these trees with even greater care. In giving him a piece of my garden, I feel like he is now a member of my family.” -Dukale
Part of what Dukale received from World Vision was training not just in crop diversification or in using his resources, but knowledge of the marketplace. By being introduced to Sigiga Coffee Farmers Primary Cooperative, Dukale has access more knowledge and resources.
Kochere coffee carries the certificate of FairTrade Premium, which means that farmers are paid a fair price for their coffee - a price higher than the normal market value. Farmers are then able to feed their families and educate their kids.
The amazing effects of coffee continue to show up and multiply, as Dukale’s children - Elias (15) and Nazreth (13) - are now empowered to go to school. Elias dreams of being a doctor and Nazreth hopes of being a teacher to educate children in her community.
After seeing the difference that a fair trade system could make to the lives of farmers, Hugh and Deborra-Lee made a promise to their new friend.
“When we got back to the US after meeting Dukale, we couldn’t just talk about him, we had to do something and that’s why we founded Laughing Man Tea & Coffee,” Hugh said.
Based in two storefronts in Manhattan, Laughing Man buys all its coffee and tea from Fair Trade co-ops and donates 100% of its profits to charity. Its most popular blend is sourced from Dukale’s farm.
We’ve crafted our Quarterly Box: Vol. 3 to showcase the many ways coffee not only powers us through the day, but brings real empowerment around the world. We believe coffee empowers community, and inspires a shared humanity within each one of us.
So this morning, as you enjoy the aroma from your hot, fresh cup of coffee, we hope you feel as connected as we do to Dukale and families like his who are being empowered to dream big.