Announcing New Educational Initiatives in Guatemala and Uganda

In an effort to better the lives of coffee farmers and their families in the areas where we source our coffee, Jim’s Organic Coffee has committed to two new projects with trusted charity partners in Guatemala and Uganda.

GUATEMALA

Previous Support:

Over the last 18 years, we have seen how literacy and education can lead to opportunity and lasting change through our work with Child Aid in Guatemala. Ongoing efforts at the school Tzanchaj, Atitlan, just down the mountain slopes from where our coffee is grown, have yielded incredible results.

Jim and daughter Josephine with students in the new library at Tzanchaj

Through the building and stocking of a full library, the training of teachers and librarians, and the installation of literacy programming, the Tzanchaj school has seen tremendous change. The first few years of school can be difficult for the children in these rural villages around Lake Atitlan, where Mayan languages are spoken at home and Spanish is taught at school. At the Tzanchaj school, teachers read stories in both languages, reaffirming the students’ mother language while teaching language skills in Spanish. Exposure to books is crucial to children at this age learning a new language, as it increases their vocabulary through a love of reading.

Reading time in the classroom

The lasting effects of these changes at the school in Tzanchaj have made it a model school for the Child Aid program. Results can be seen in the enthusiasm and participation of the children, now much more engaged in classroom learning and reading time; but also in the numbers. Comprehensive testing of students in Reading for Life programs shows that Child Aid students improved 65% more than their peers in reading comprehension.

This Fall: Panabaj

This fall, Child Aid and Jim’s Organic Coffee will begin implementing similar programming at a neighboring school in Panabaj, Guatemala. The four year program will include extensive teacher training of the school’s 15 teachers, four literacy book club programs for students, and a total of 1725 books provided to the school, providing a collection of at least 7 books per child in the school by program’s end. Jim’s Organic Coffee is thrilled to participate in and sponsor this program, and to see yet another school in this region flourish through literacy and reading.

Why Panabaj? Jim’s Story

“In my three visits to Guatemala over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of watching the school and library in Tzanchaj grow and become a beacon of hope in the region.

One visit though stands out and has a story worth telling.

In late 2005, when Hurricane Stan was hitting Central America, I received a call that there had been a terrible mudslide in the region. I soon learned that while the school in Tzanchaj had been spared, the neighboring school in Panabaj and almost the entire village had been wiped out. I had plans to visit the area anyway and continued with my visit.

The devastation from Stan and the mudslide was stark. There are two lasting images I have — one of a basketball net at the school in Panabaj with mud a full 7 feet high; the net height being the measuring stick. The second, a row of tents in an open space in Tzanchaj, just steps from the school. It brought a certain sense of pride to see US-AID marked on the tents there in remote Guatemala. Not something many of us get to see.

At the time, and as a small company, there was little we could do for Panabaj. We had made commitments to Tzanchaj, and we could only do so much. Plus our goal is not to be a relief organization — there are plenty, like the Red Cross and US-AID, that do an incredible job with that. Nevertheless, some of the funds we had committed to Tzanchaj were appropriately used to accommodate additional students from Panabaj.

The school at Panabaj, rebuilt after the mudslide

Fast forward 7 years to a trip I made with my oldest daughter to the area. During the trip, a representative from our charity partner Child Aid commented that even after all that emergency aid, the one thing that still gives sustainable help to the area is the school and library in Tzanchaj. Wow.

And so, when Child Aid wanted to implement the same literacy programming at Panabaj, and to set in place a new long term commitment to Panabaj, we enthusiastically embraced it.”

– Jim Cannell, Founder and CEO of Jim’s Organic Coffee

UGANDA

Previous Support:

Jim’s Organic Coffee has been working with The Costa Foundation in Uganda, supporting the PEAS Bwesumbu High School, a high school of approximately 500 students in the Kasese District in South Eastern Uganda. The Costa Foundation funded the opening in the school in 2012 in the Rwenzori Mountains, where the local population relies heavily on coffee production for their livelihoods and the mountainous terrain had previously made it difficult or impossible for children to travel to other schools in the region.

Last year’s support of educational supplies focused on science, donating critical science lab equipment to help students prepare for the large practical element in their science exams.

This Fall:

Jim’s Organic Coffee is pleased to sponsor a larger development project at the school – Sports Facilities and Equipment.

While the government of Uganda has created a national curriculum for Physical Education, most schools lack equipment and adequately trained teachers, and PE is often the last priority. For the PEAS Bwesumbu school, students must take a long walk to the primary school for use of their facilities; and recent clashes between government forces and local militia groups has made this type of travel unsafe. These conflicts also have an impact on the students, a cause of stress and a growing level of frustration.

Students in class at the Bwesumbu High School

School sports programs have been linked to higher school attendance, better concentration and productivity in class, development and maintenance of student discipline, and improvements in physical and mental health. Sports opportunities improve student confidence and self esteem, bolster decision-making skills, and teach crucial skills such as how to handle victory and defeat and work as a team.

Students outside the school, with Rwenzori mountains in background

Starting this month, Jim’s Organic Coffee will fund the construction of a multi-purpose sports pitch (playing field), to be used for football, netball, and volleyball. The land will be purchased, leveled, excavated, and landscaped, and football and netball goal posts installed to facilitate a variety of sports activities on the pitch. Jim’s will also donate basic equipment like cones, whistles and nets; sports equipment like footballs and net balls; and sports uniforms.

We’re proud to be able to fund educational initiatives like this, for the families of farmers in the coffee industry. Thank you for choosing Jim’s Organic Coffee – your purchase allows us to support these important projects and continue to give back to those regions where we source our organic coffee.

Jim’s Gives Back: Learn more about our other charitable giving projects here.