Editor’s Note: This is part of a continued series on our commitment to the Catracha Quality Project. We have some coffees available SPOT from this inspiring project. Catch up on all of the articles here.
Inspiring Young People
The Catracha Community hosted its third annual youth conference at the end of January in the municipality of Santa Elena, department of La Paz, Honduras.
The idea behind the youth conference is to inspire young people to continue working in the coffee industry and to find other ways to diversify their sources of income in Santa Elena.
While working for Royal from Honduras, I have been able to spend time supporting the youth movement in Santa Elena. From October through December I hosted several leadership meetings with young people in Santa Elena to organize the annual youth conference. Most of the conference topics were picked by the kids during these meetings, including cutting hair and cell phone repair.
We invited Honduran volunteers who earn a living in these careers to come to Santa Elena and teach classes during the conference. These two classes fit together nicely with another class on entrepreneurship taught by a Honduran youth leader.
Left: Delia Martinez teaching the kids how to cut hair
Right: Gerson Daniel Carcamo teaching the kids how to repair cellphones
In addition to the topics selected by the kids, we also had topics from past years like family gardening, cooking classes, and barista classes, each taught by Honduran volunteers.
The Importance of Art
This year we also dedicated a lot of time to a new topic: visual arts. Art is a great way to inspire creativity, culture and pride in young people from Santa Elena, which can then be leveraged for other activities like the creation of small businesses or higher education.
Our inspiration came from friends on the US side of the coffee industry. Demart Denaro, a former Blue Bottle barista and professional artist, is now building an artist residency in Santa Elena that he funded through a Kickstarter campaign.
Left: Moises Sierra teaching the kids how to cook.
Right: Demart Denaro former Blue Bottle Barista, Wendy Carolina Rodriguez Sanchez from IHCAFE, and Adrian Escoto from Catracha Coffee brewing coffee with the kids.
A new roasting company called 3-19, which is dedicated to combining coffee, art and community, also wanted to contribute art to Santa Elena. The founders of 3-19, Chris Dollries, Mike Weaver, and Mike Vehar not only joined the conference, but they also helped to plan it. Like Demart, they also raised funds through a Kickstarter campaign to support art projects in Santa Elena.
During the youth conference, Demart and the the founders of 3-19 worked alongside a group of Honduran volunteers who call themselves the Chalchiguas, which is an indigenous Honduran word that means artists. This group of two art professors and 7 student artists taught classes and created a mural with the help of all the kids from Santa Elena. The design for the mural came together during the first day of the conference when the kids and other members of the community met with the visiting artist to express what they wanted to see painted on the wall. Mike Vehar put it best when he told me that “the collaboration between youth, women and artists was really fun and empowering for all involved.”
We were fortunate to have a group of young women at the Leadership Center attend the youth conference. This group of women exemplifies the kind of leadership that is needed to motivate young people.
Abigail Carcamo, Aby Santiago, Caterine Silva, Cirse Cruz, Doris Amaya, Meilin Tejeda, Nely Vasquez, Tania Dominguez, and Yondia Lopez from the Leadership Center teaching the kids how to work together.
When you have dozens of people descending on a small town like Santa Elena all at once, you need to think about feeding them and finding places for them to sleep. With the help of the Catracha producers and their families, we cared for all these volunteers and provided lunch for more than 100 kids who attended the 2-day conference.
The Future Lies in our Youth…and Farmers’ Markets
On the Sunday following the youth conference the community hosted a farmers’ market. We wanted this conference to be a starting point for putting ideas and inspiration into action. There was music, food and lots to buy and take home – not so different from what many of us enjoy at US farmers’ markets. After the farmers’ market, a group gathered and agreed to continue the market every Sunday.
This project was made possible by the Catracha Community along with financial support from the roasting community who purchased Catracha Coffee from the 2016 harvest.
This was a week to remember. So much of the coffee supply chain came together to inspire our youth. In turn, I hope our youth have inspired the coffee community to continue investing in all their potential.
Farmers’ Market in Santa Elena