Thursday, December 31, 2015

Coffee changing lives- the challenges and the hope

I sit and watch as the darkness settle and engulfs the village. Its the last day of 2015.

view of the Ranges from my village

Its been 2 years now since we fully started trading. Two years of our Social enterpreneurship. Two years of transforming communities through economic development from coffee production. It has not been easy, i have grey hair but no regrets, this is what i wanted to do with my life, this is my world. I know that things might not fully Change during my time, we still have a Long way to People know this too and we will still continue doing what we started.

Like any other business we have had a many challenges and we soldiered on. We have met and made amazing friends and partners.

The season is coming to an end. The village is still buzzing with excitement as we await the new year. My father says the season has been good, hes very hopeful. His records shows he had 2,150 kgs of cherry and 100kg of Naturals.

I still worry. My people though hopeful had a lot of challenges, half of the harvest was destroyed by frost.The season encountered prolonged drought, the rain god didnt visit from the mountains.The last days i have transversed from one range to the other to meet our amazing coffee farmers. Their dedication and hope makes me stronger, They have hope and they know that through our partnership we can together make a difference to their whole lives.

Meeting with our Exporters

Being a year end we will reflect on the accomplishments, the developments and the challenges that have defined whom we are and the Story of my People. It is all those things that have kept us on the journey---

1. In 2015 we managed to ship 2 containers of green beans to Germany.
The sale of this coffee has greatly supported KEDOVO e.V projects on community development. Without this great Support from Heinz & Nicole, our work would have been so much harder. This purchase benefited thousands of coffee farmers and their families from Nyeri and their communities.
This has ensured the intiation of the following sustainable Projects:

Thank you all of you for the great Support!

2.Through the great partnership with KEDOVO e.V we have met our amazing group of volunteers who dedicated their time and resources to visit, interact and live together with the communities who produce our coffee.

Special thanks to Erika Bartels of Kedovo Volunteers who spent a month in the community development program in Ndurutu and later on took it to her heart to support those communities by presenting our projects in Niedersachen, became our greatest ''coffee ambassador'', and through her network brought KEDOVO e.V amazing supporters. Her dedication is a tale of what changes partnerships and cultural exchange can bring to the world.

We visited Neema Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre on christmas eve, and supported them with mattreses , blankets etc. We also painted the rooms to make them more cosy and nicer for the children.This would not have been possible without Erika and her friends from Niedersachen and for this we will always be grateful. Asanteni sana!

the gang purchasing mattresses for Neema children's home at Chaka market

blankets- supported by Erika & friends in Niedersachen

the children's room before

rooms after

KEDOVO Team , Grace and the children of Neema
discussion with Gráce on way forward
Through Erika and her work, we was able to Support Ndurutu Primary with several reading books for the School Library built by KEDOVO gang in earlier in July.
On top of this, Erika and her Team supported 15 needy School going children with School fees for the whole term!

some of the books supported by Erika

Banking Slips -School fees for 15 children

To those of you near or in Roderbruch, kindly visit Kulturtreff Roderbruch on Rotekreuzstraße 19 on January 24th 2016 from 16- 19 hrs where Erika Bartels will Showcase a presentation about her Volunteerism in Kenya in 2015 as well as the Engagements and work of KEDOVO e.V under the title ''Kenia entdecken''. All are welcome.

To our dedicated coffee buyers , without you this would have been so much harder! And your support is greatly appreciated by the community who produce our coffee.

3.Capacity Building
We met with farmers and Management of Ndurutu wet mill where we had discussions and emphasized on the cultivation of Quality coffee. Only by improving  their Quality will the farmers be able to earn 'real income' from coffee production. We believe by bringing the villagers together to work towards a common economic Goal we will be able to build Long Lasting relationships and partneships and help the farmers have a hope for the future.

Management Meeting Ndurutu Wet mill

Chairman- Ndurutu wet mill

Farmers representative

To all the the People who continue supporting our work, Asanteni Sana! This would have not been possible without you all.

To continue supporting the se communities we have on offer Direct Trade Green coffee from Ndurutu wet mill F.O.T Bremen/ Hamburg, Transport within Germany & the EU also arrangable at a cost. Please contact Soni Schneidewind or Nicole Boedtger for Information on samples, Prices and contract.

Friday, October 16, 2015

My Village ,the struggle and the hope

In the Central Highlands of Kenya, many Kilometres from the Indian Ocean, there is a small village called Ndurutu, nestled on the footshills of The Aberdare Mountains , one can see  the peaks of the Mt. Kenya to the Northeast, where the folks -before the missionaries came-believed Mwene Nyaga  dwelt. On the slopes of this mountain range lies my small , dusty but extremely beautiful village. 

Ndurutu shopping centre
This is the village i still call home- i have lived in many places before, and i finally relocated to Germany after a year of deliberation ( story of another day) and i have done everything to the letter of the book of Migration, but this is where my house is and the village where I was born; this is the place where I played my first games with my friends, swam on the banks of River Chania, and struggled with bags of ripe coffee cherries up the hill. This is where  me and my siblings, sat by the fireplace every evening and listened to stories told by my mother, stories that were passed to her by her mother and grandmother.Unfortunately it was not my destiny that I would spend the rest of my life there.....But i live everyday with the memories of it, and the hope that my little contribution can help in changing their lives.

a view of the sunset from the village

On the 23rd of Sept TG Aphrodite sailed from the port of Mombasa, to brace the high seas, the threat of climatic changes and deliver our second container of coffee for this year to the Port of Bremen on the River Weser. On board is again 250 bags of green coffee from Ndurutu Wet Mill. The sale of this coffee will continue supporting our development Projects  in Nyeri, Kenya.
meeting ndurutu coffee farmers in jan 2016 with Stefan

My people planted coffee ages ago, even before i was born, so being part of a coffee farmer basically begins the minute you are born. I grew up knowing that our only source of income came from harvesting those litlle red berries .My people watered these trees with their sweat and the earth with their own blood, in order to defend themeselves from the politics and the trade that came with every bean that they harvested.

across the ridge as seen from Ndurutu wet mill; a small scale coffee farm

I have had several people asking me how all this coffee journey began, and whats the motivation behind it. Well this is my story. And its the story of how our journey at KEDOVO e.V began, a story which we want to change for future generations of coffee producers.

When i was younger, how did i think about coffee?
I left the village when i was 17, I just wanted out. My father was hell bent that i should take the more 'sophsicated and respectable' proffessions, like being a doctor, or a Lawyer- sigh. But i wanted out, out of the village and the struggles and the back breaking toil that came with coffee production and so i left to go and survive.

I ''survived'' and i was able to see the world and to learn new things. I went to college and everytime i opened my Economics book and looked at the graphs- i knew what i wanted to become.

Moving to Europe, i started thinking of how my people could develop and i realised they had the best opportunity in the world. They grew coffee that unfortunately did not benefit them due to the hurdles involved in the supply chain. They were great coffee producers but not business oriented. Their story needed to be told, but it had to be a story that had hope, a story that was a journey to development, a story that was their story, for i believe its the story of all the  coffee Producers all over the world.

What they needed was a market that could offer them a good price for their coffee and i believed i could do this. If i could give them this hope again i believed they would produce quality coffee that would be sort after by Roasters from the Western world.

This has now become my world, and everytime i roast a bean i remember my folks trying to earn a decent living from a crop that comes with struggles . Everytime i sit at Quijote i worry of their struggles but bast in their determination not to give up in trying to find chances and meanings in a world where decisions made many miles from their village continue changing their lives.

with Matt of Quijote roasting Ndurutu AB
My idea of Direct Trade and connecting the Roasters in germany with the communities who produce coffee in Nyeri Kenya, is basically an attempt to adress the problem facing the distribution and sale of Green coffee in a much different way than the regulated certifications- note: i have nothing against the various certifictaions out there, only i feel that coffee producers should have more surelty of available market at good prices rather than a promise of a ''future market' if they followed this and that. We should be more focused not only on quantity and social aspects but the overal economic sustainability of these communities at the same time preserving the quality and integrity of coffee, not forgetting that communities develop socially if they are economically empowered.

Stefan of Kiez Roastery Berlin meeting some of our farmers

The aim of the Kedovo coffee Project is to factor both economic and social development and where we work with these communities from a grassroot level to establish exactly what is required.

Kenya like many of the countries in developing world, didnt not meet the set Millenium Development Goals whose term ended in Sept 2015. We now have a long list of the Sustainable Development Goals to battle for the next 15 years. They say to achieve them everyone needs to do their part. - They said Goal 12 aims to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns, we will do our part- i hope to God the rest of the world does their part...

Our story hasnt lost hope and we have had great partners along the journey, people who amazingly continue to support our work both with the purchase of our coffees as well as supporting our many projects on community development in Nyeri Kenya.

The last months the gang has been busy winding up the last phase of installing water tanks for water harvesting for a number of our coffee producers, in line with our project for Access to clean water. This would have not been possible without the support of BINGO Projektförderung Schleswig Holstein, for the immense Support , on behalf of my people we will always be grateful. 
To our Partners Sandtorkai Handel Papenhagen- you have become more than a partner, you are the family that we made in a far away land; the people who believed in us from the beginning, our sincere thanks, and ofcourse to all the amazing Roasters and consumers who purchase both our green and roasted coffees; Asanteni sana! 

the home of one of our coffee producers who is among the beneficiaries of the water tanks project

Wilson & James from Kedovo-Kenya busy with installations

2 hours later....

The gang ;) huraa! we did it
The beneficiaries
Another beneficiary from last month....

Our Story is a journey of togetherness... and together with the gang we swore to dedicate our time, our resources in making the other children of our coffee producers become self reliant. This we can only do by ensuring they have access and chance to better education facilities.
For Kenya to fully develop , its children and especially the ones in the rural farming villages, have to be educated, they Need to have a voice to develop  in a world where the Odds have been stacked against them. We at KEDOVO only know too well the struggle to complete education....
Last week the team in Kenya went back to Ndurutu Primary School which is one of the Schools in our Project; Education for Sustainable Development. The School's infrastructure like many rural School is in bad shape, and this time the gang delivered School desks for clas 8 who begin their final exams in November. This would not have been possible without the immense Support of Loppokaffeeexpress of Kiel, and for this my since gratitude. Kira and Axel your dedication to Support my community not only through the purchase of their coffee but as well as other social development Projects means the world to me!

Davie with std 8 Pupils, the beneficiaries of the new desks

together for Ndurutu, thanks Loppokaffeeexpress

The gang having a discussion with the chairman ndurutu primary & the deputy head

In Progress is also our Project on Renewable energy which is basically the Installation of several Biogas digesters for the coffee farmers in Ndurutu. In many rural Areas, the lack of energy is a key drive of poverty.The sytems are quiet unique in such that they are not the traditional cement Systems that are always in the ground and filled up with manure....this has proven to be very expensive over time and queit hard to maintain or even clean up. We partnered with Flexi Biogas International owned and ran by a great Kenyan guy Dominic Wanjihia. The Project is supported by Centre For International Migration & Development of Germany.
The Systems are above the ground and you only need one cow to mainatin the sytem as opposed to the conventional dome shaped Systems where a Minimum of 5 cows is required! currently we have installed 6 Units so far in the village.

The Flexi Biogas Systems

The digesters use any biodegradable matter be it kitchen waste, market waste, grass etc- but our main source of bio matter is the Coffee Pulp! the Ndurutu wet mill is located in a startegic position that all the farmers have Access to the Pulp that they can use either as organic matter in the coffee fileds- its this that we are now using for the several digesters to produce Biogas! we only Need a bucket of water and a bucket of bio matter daily and thats it. The System will produce gas to cook for upto a Family of 8 without a hitch for  six to eight hours. Installations are done within 3 hours for 1 System amd within 7 days the Family is ready to start their new life cooking with biogas.Is this not hope for my coffee community? can you imagine the women coffee farmers not having to trek long distances insearch of firewood? or the Kids running from School at the end of the day so they can go to the forest insearch of firewood before the darkness set? they can now sit comfortably at home and relax or do their homework! is that not the struggle and the hope? We are now able to replace pecious Wood with either cowdung or the coffee Pulp.

pulped coffee husks at Ndurutu wet mill
 I believe there is need for more successive stories of communities who made it- but this is only possible if communities come together and aim towards self reliancy. We now have hope.

To continue supporting these communities we have on offer Green coffee (Rohkaffee) from Ndurutu Wet Mill late crop 2013-2014 F.O.T Bremen as well as late crop 2014-2015, transport within Germany & the EU arrangable at a cost. Please contact Soni Schneidewind or Nicole Boedgter for information on samples, prices and contract.

For roasted Chania coffee kindly purchase from our Online Shop or visit our offices in Kaltenkirchen. Visit the shop & Cafe 'Ein Welt Laden' located at the VHS in Kaltenkirchen , am Kretemoor 40, or pass by at our stand at the Kaltenkirchener Wochenmark every Saturday from 07:00 hrs to 12 noon.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Education as the key to fighting poverty

Have you ever wondered how it was like growing up in Kenya? Forget the documentaries and the 'amazing' photos from CNN , BBC and the rest.

For the people who have been part of our journey, they need to know our past so they can understand our present.

My name is Soni. I grew up in the communities of Mt.Kenya and the Aberdares. My father, his father and their fathers before him have always been coffee producers. My people have lived and continue living from one coffee season to another. We have had good and hard times, good times like after the anxiously waited coffee payments where my father would make sure we got dressed in our ''sunday best''- we each had 1 or 2 nice dresses that were only reserved for sundays going to church or for special occasions- headed to Karatina Shopping centre where we would be treated with sausages and chips with tomato sauce that had more water in it that the tomatoes.

We had our hard times when we encountered the 'thin times' which is basically the period when income derived from previous harvest ran short. This period lasts for a minimum of three months every year. We struggled like the rest of the families in the community, and still toiled in the coffee fields in the hope of a better tomorrow.

women coffee farmers delivering coffee cherries at a wet mill in Nyeri

My father believed that the answer to our poverty situation was through education. He still believes to date that education is the long term key and answer to poverty eradiction.Me and my siblings grew up knowing that education was the only means we could later use to overcome our situation. My family like most of the others in the village didnt own big tracts of land and neither did they have work opportunities in neighbouring towns, they were simply coffee farmers. From my upbringing i have come to learn, to understand and to believe that when a child has access to education, then their way in life has a chance- they have a chance to see the world, chances beyond the farming villages of the Aberdares. Poor people's access to information is very vital for communities to develop. But how is this possible if their children do not have access to learning facilities?

my father supporting kids in Ndurutu primary with new school uniforms in 2014
I go back to my childhood, i am 10 years old. I am in class 5. I live in a village in Nyeri where the singing of birds wake you up in the morning. Its 5:30 am, my mother wakes me up to get ready for school. I wash my face, brush my teeth and put on my school uniform. At 6:00 am we have breakfast together with my siblings, which is basically corn meal from previous night or if we are lucky a slice of dry toast with a cup of tea. At 6:30 am we start walking and half running to school which takes 20-25 mins to get there. At 7:00 am we are supposed to be in class seated and ready for our prep-lessons. At 9:45 am we have our first 15 mins break of the day. 12:45 we break for lunch which is a mixture of kidney beans and corn with ''swimming onions'' in a transparent broth.

Our afternoon lessons continue from 14:00 pm and end at 16:30 pm when we leave the school and head home. 17:00pm i reach home and do my chores of the day which involves collecting firewood or water from the Chania River and when am done i play with my friends outside.

18:30 pm and i start helping my mother to prepare dinner for the family which in most cases will be Kales and Ugali. We drink water from the river and call it a day.

20:00pm we go to sleep. Its been a long day for my parents who have been working in the coffee fields since morning. This goes on from Mon-Fri. And then on Saturday instead of heading to school at 6:30 am we head to the coffee fields, to help our parents bring in the harvest in time.

Thats the real life for the children of coffee producers if they are lucky to be able to attend school. Nothing much has changed since my time- they still toil from dawn to dusk with  minimal or no returns from coffeee production.There are many kids whom during my time their parents couldnt afford the schools fees and they spent their days helping in the coffee fields.

I grew up and left to go to college, see the world and drink Cocacola instead of water in the evenings, or if the gods were on my side a glass of Chardonny.

Three decades later so many things have changed, but not the lives of the communities who produce our coffee.The education sector changed, but my village is still a farming village.

In 2002 the democratically elected government in Kenya came into power, and on January 6 2003 the governement of Kenya introduced the implementation of Free Primary Education. For once, primary education was free and all that was required was for every child regardless of age to walk into a school near where they lived and be registered to start learning. From then on the child was required to fully participate in school until they completed the fully cycle of primary education which requires 8 years of learning. Enrollment in schools increased with figures of upto 46% as released by Kenya's Ministry of Education in 2011.

The program has achieved measurable successes but this increase into the number of pupils going to primary school brought as well a major infrastructural problem.Most of the rural schools especially are underfunded in terms of teachers,learning materials, buildings among other amenities.

the deterioted infrastructure; a classroom Ndurutu Primary

Daniel in one of the classrooms in dire need of renovations- Ndurutu Primary

Its these challenges that have made us at KEDOVO e.V concentrate most of work on the education of the children of our coffee producers.

For sometime now we have supported schools like Karindundu, Kirichu & Ndurutu Primary Shools with various projects below:

We have had other projects within the community but Education for Sustainability is what we believe we can use to give the children of our coffee producers chances beyond primary school and keys to rebuild their future. We believe through ensuring that they have a chance to better education then their way in life has been paved, they can have hopes and dreams to see the world- i did.

Zackie delivering a tank in Kirichu Primary school so the kids can have access to clean water

Yesterday the Kedovo gang in Kenya officially opened a newly constructed library in Ndurutu Primary. The school is really in dire need of text books as in most cases the pupils are either sharing 10 kids per book and in some lessons only the teacher has a torn text book that she uses for teaching.

Arrival of the materials to begin library construction

Davie & Daniel helping with the construction

work in progress

Not only did we set up the shelves for the library we supplied as well various text books, though not enough! The school has currently approx. 170 pupils.

some of the new text books

Zackie the program coordinator & kids from Ndurutu Primary saying ''Together for ndurutu''

The gang also officiated the school closing day for this term and organised a prize giving day for the pupils who had perfomed well.The best perfomed pupils received prizes of books, uniforms, geometrical sets, pens etc as motivational items to work harder.By supporting this generation we can develop the community and rebuild our village. Who knows, among them there might be enterpreneurs in the making.

Davie introducing our volunteers Erika & Daniel at Ndurutu Primary

Erika giving out book prizes to best performed student class 2

All this would not have been possible without the support of our partner Sandtorkai Handel Papenhagen. To Nicole & Heinz, i know i have said thank you a thousand times- but your committment to support my community hasnt been in vain. We now have hope. 
the new sign at the entrace to the offices & library

the new books to replace the old torn text books
an old text book that the teacher was using to teach with that start on page 27 :(

To all the Roasters in Germany who purchase our coffee- my sincere gratitude.I cannot list all of you here but please know your contribution doesnt go unnoticed. To Loppokaffeeexpress, Asante sana for your comittment in supporting our projects even beyond the actual coffee buying, Reinhold in Telgte- it was amazing meeting you last time- thank you.

meeting with the ''Jungs'' from Telgter Kaffeerösterie in Telgte

 To continue supporting these communities we have on offer Green coffee (Rohkaffee) from Ndurutu Wet Mill late crop 2013-2014 F.O.T Bremen as well as late crop 2014-2015, transport within Germany & the EU arrangable at a cost. Please contact Soni Schneidewind or Nicole Boedgter for information on samples, prices and contract.

For those interested in Kenyan Single origin roasted coffees kindly purchase from our Online Shop or visit our offices in Kaltenkirchen. Our handcrafted coffees are also available at Engel Eis Cafe on the Hamburger Strasse 23 in Kaltenkirchen , visit the shop & Cafe 'Ein Welt Laden' located at the VHS in Kaltenkirchen , am Kretemoor 40, or pass by at the Kaltenkirchener Wochenmark every Saturday from 07:00 hrs to 12 noon.

And the story continues...