Coffee to be Reborn
Women in coffee, changing the world: Elvira’s story
Elvira Mó Salam is 40 years old and has a dream of creating a coffee plantation amidst the uncontaminated forests of Guatemala. She lives with her husband and three children in the village of San Lucas Chiacal in the region of Verapaz, part of the indigenous Mayan Poqomchi’ community. Today, the community consists mainly of women as a result of over 30 years of civil war, which has decimated the population and impoverished the area.
Elvira took part in one of our Foundation’s projects to train female coffee-producers and help them to develop their leadership skills. She studied how to grow and sell coffee, and thanks to her first harvests, has become part of an historic shift: she has developed an autonomous source of income that allows her to contribute independently to her family’s prosperity.
“My husband encouraged me to start up a project of my own, and gave me 1,600 square metres of land to work with, where there had been nothing but weeds and brambles”, she recalls with a note of pride in her voice. “I started sowing my first 500 coffee plants 3 years ago. Today, I can see the fruits of my labour”.
Since her first harvest, Elvira has produced around 30 kilos of top-quality green coffee, which she has had depulped and dried. In addition to farming sustainably, she has begun recording her harvests and sales in order to plan how to manage future crops: an entrepreneurial approach that she learned thanks to her participation in the “Coffee to be Reborn” project. Set up in 2016 by our Foundation, in collaboration with the local NGO Verdad y Vida, it has enabled a group of courageous and resourceful women to bring family coffee-growing businesses back to life. Today, 140 women like Elvira have made enormous strides in the production and marketing of coffee, with a positive impact on their own lives and the life of their community, which numbers over 1,000 people.
An emphasis on including and emancipating women is one of the goals of the projects promoted by the Lavazza Foundation in fragile countries such as Guatemala. Here, women working with dedication and determination as small coffee-producers help to improve the quality of life of their own families and of their communities, and to encourage change for new generations of women.
“I’m teaching my children to use the resources that we have in a better way, so that we can all move forward with dignity”, Elvira concludes, “and I’d like other women to be able to benefit from the knowledge shared in these workshops so that they can make their dreams a reality”.