Farewell Bolivia…

The Ramos family. From L-R: Genero, Vladimir, Elizabeth, Noemi, Rebecca, Gilda Marilin and Leonida

The Ramos family. From L-R: Genero, Vladimir, Elizabeth, Noemi, Rebecca, Gilda Marilin and Leonida

As I count down the hours to my departure from Bolivia, I would like to extend a huge thank you to all of you for supporting this venture, in a whole host of different ways – whether it be in the form of generous donations for my fundraising campaign, moral support, words of wisdom, logistical help, care packages, hand-knitted hats and much more along the way.

We raised a remarkable $4896, surpassing my $3000 target and all of my expectations.  http://cci.akaraisin.com/Crossroaderfundraising/JoniWard  All funds raised go directly to support Crossroads` vital projects and activities in their eight partner countries.  From myself and all the farmers and families I have worked alongside here in Bolivia, thank you.

The impact of this project is significant and tangible.  The livelihoods of rural Bolivians are being sustained through access to an expanded Canadian coffee market.  New relationships have been established; fair trade, organic coffee from COAINE cooperative will be available in Montreal, Ottawa and Nova Scotia later this year, as well as currently in Manitoba.  (I am still not quite over the fact that I will soon be able to drink this very coffee only a couple of blocks from my home!)  My volunteer successor will be heading out to Bolivia in the coming weeks, ensuring the project’s long-term sustainability.

It has been an incredible, enriching, humbling journey, both personally and professionally, and I am profoundly grateful for your interest and support.

***

With the recent tragedy of the collapsed garment factory in Bangladesh, where the horrifying death toll has now reached over 900 people; it is acutely apparent that our collective progress towards safe and fair working conditions has an awful long way to go.  As millions of people toil daily in deplorable conditions, creating item after item to be sold cheaply in the West, exercising our purchasing power to seek out direct or fair trade products is ever more important.  From the comfort of our privileged lives, it is all too easy to let distance cloud our perspective and numb our ability to act.

We all have the power to make a difference.  We all have a responsibility to reflect upon the purchases we make and the people behind the products we consume.  After all I have learned and witnessed here in Bolivia, I find it hard to believe that we can drink coffee for the low prices we pay.  Coffee should not be cheap.  The livelihoods of farmers and their families are at stake.

Every single coffee bean goes through a long, laborious process before it makes it into your steaming cup of espresso or latte.  So the next time you’re browsing a supermarket aisle or at the counter of your favourite café, I urge you to take a moment and spare a thought for the farmer and the family behind your morning cup.  Be curious, be accountable, ask questions beyond looking for logos, seek out direct or fair trade coffee.  And know that you will be changing lives in the process.

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9 thoughts on “Farewell Bolivia…

  1. Inspiring and moving entry, Joni! Very proud of all that you have accomplished on this journey. Thank you for sharing your insights and stories along the way.

  2. Buen viaje, Joni. And congratulations on being brilliant in Bolivia! Get a good saltena recipe before you go. lots of love x

    • Thank you, Becka! Just ate my last two salteñas…never managed to get hold of a recipe, argh! My local salteñeria will experience a significant dip in daily sales. Lots of love. x

  3. Well said Joni and thanks for the much needed reminder as we live our comfortable lives, thousands of miles away from people who struggle daily to survive. Have a safe journey back to Montreal tomorrow.

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