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November 17, 2010

This is from a good friend of mine that imports coffee from Ethiopia through his business Just Coffee. I just thought it sounded like a great project and I am always impressed by people who think of innovative ways to help others. Enjoy.

I have an exciting request to help build a school where we buy coffee! If you purchase green coffee in Yirgacheffe, you are purchasing from growers that do not have an adequate school (100 kids per classroom, many can’t attend), where children must go to the bathroom in the woods, and eat sugar cane to stave off hunger and thirst throughout the day. Please read and strongly consider supporting this project. It will make an immediate difference in the lives of over a thousand families!

I’m writing this while driving back from Yirgacheffe as our car weaves between goat herds and donkey carts. We’ve left the Sidama huts behind and are careening down into the Great Rift Valley – on my way home after a week in Ethiopia. We’ve been working on Run Across Ethiopia, taking place in January to raise funds to build schools in the communities where we purchase coffee. Timothy (our run coordinator), Surafael (translator and logistics support in Ethiopia), Ayele (Representative from Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union), Belay (our driver), and I have just finished up an amazing three day adventure along the expedition route.

The rest of the trip has been working on overall logistics in getting 10 american runners, 4-6 ethiopian runners, 2 musicians, videographer, journalist, support crew, family, and 15 coffee roasters from Addis Ababa to Yrgacheffe over a 10 day period.

Of all the adventures this week the most important is the reason I am emailing you – Mose Greola School whose children are members of the cooperative Kalaltu Hase Gola – where we buy some of our Yrgacheffe Coffee. The school has 960 students sharing just 7 small classrooms, with literally, as many children who can fit crammed into each classroom. This amounts to over 100 kids in a small room. The school serves 5 neighboring villages with over 800 families living in each village. With an average of 7 people in each household – that comes to a small 7 classroom 1st – 8th grade school serving a population of 28,000! Without added classrooms, many children can’t even attend school.

While classrooms are the most important issue – it is not the only. There is no bathroom – children must go in the woods. There is no water – the closest well is a 10 minute walk. There is no food –they find sugar cane in the fields to stave off hunger and thirst during the day. There is no housing for the teachers– they must walk 2 hours each day to school. There are very few school supplies and furnishings – the tiny first graders sit on branches of a tree propped into benches in their dirt floor classroom. When the rainy season starts, the floor of the school floods, and the rain falls through the holes in the ceiling and walls.

The Run Across Ethiopia is bearing much fruit – all from runners raising 15 grand each to participate and local support via Higher Grounds and community members.

To date we have funded a kindergarten lunch program for 40 children in one of the worst neighborhoods of Addis Ababa, we’ve funded a street children program as part of the Tesfa Foundation, and we are beginning the work on 2 schools to be built in coffee growing communities.

However, I can not help but think that member roasters from Cooperative Coffees would love to participate! Many of you have already offered to pitch in and I am so excited that if we all can give something we can make this school a reality.

As I know almost all of you reading this, I know you agree that the concept of “fair trade” goes WAY beyond a price paid to a coffee grower. When a community does not have the basic access to education, health care, and water – we must, as ethical businesses, step up and step in to share our relative wealth to make the communities we rely on become more sustainable.

For that reason I am asking each of you to consider giving what you can relative to your size – if all of us were to give an average of $2000 to this project we can say that the roasters that make up Cooperative Coffees was able to build a school in Ethiopia where we purchase our coffee. On the school would be the name of each of your companies. Knowing that our power, collectively, reaches way beyond just paying a high price for coffee to farmers who even with that high price can not break free from the chains of poverty.

If we do not raise the total amount via CC members, On the Ground (our non-profit) will supplement what Cooperative Coffees members can give to make the project a reality. Please see attached the budget for the project, and the photo below of the kids in their classroom on friday and please feel free to call my cell (231.218.0014) if you have any questions this week. As well, when we are in Ethiopia for the Coop Sol AGM you will have the opportunity to visit the community and see the beginnings of the construction. (If you are on the fence of whether to come or not you should definitely make it happen!)

You can donate via our website – http://www.onthegroundglobal.com or mail to the address below (tax deductible). Please also respond to this email right away if you can give something and if I do not hear from you our Executive Director at On the Ground, Bill Paladino, will give you a call to discuss the project in case you did not read this.

Thanks for reading.

Thanks for your generosity!
Chris Treter
Higher Grounds Trading Co

Checks payable to On the Ground (501c3)
806 Red Drive
Traverse City, Michigan
49684

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