Equal Exchange is well known for revolutionizing the fair trade of organic, non-GMO coffee, chocolate, cocoa, tea, bananas, and avocados from small farmer cooperatives. They’ve become experts at creating powerful change in industries dominated by profound social, environmental, and economic exploitation and their Congo Coffee Project is no exception. You’ll find this coffee featured in our Weekly Sale from May 6th – 12th and we wanted to take a moment to shine a bit of extra light on the profound impact that your purchases of this coffee are having on survivors of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
From the time of colonization on, the Democratic Republic of Congo has been shaken by conflict. In recent decades, combatants fighting for land and resources have used sexual violence as a tactic, affecting thousands. For women, men, and children who are rape survivors in need of medical attention, there are not many treatment options; they are sometimes ostracized, abandoned, or ignored with nowhere to go. In 2011, Equal Exchange’s Quality Control Manager Beth Ann Casperson helped found the Congo Coffee Project with the Panzi Foundation as a means to bring Congolese coffee to market in the United States while offering healing for survivors and raising awareness about the alarming rate of violence.
Survivors of sexual violence seek refuge and assistance at the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, DRC, a bustling place with more than 360 staff and thousands of visitors each year. The hospital treats patients with various ailments but has become known as a safe place for survivors of sexual violence to seek treatment and an opportunity to heal from their extensive and brutal trauma.
Since its inception in 2011, the Congo Coffee Project has raised more than $100,000 for survivors of sexual violence and Dr. Denis Mukwege, the physician responsible for treating survivors of sexual violence and raising awareness of their plight, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work. One dollar from each Congo Coffee purchase goes toward supporting Dr. Mukwege’s work to assist the women, men, and children who have been impacted by sexual violence. Click here to read more about the impact of your Congo Coffee purchases and see a breakdown of how the funds are allocated. We also invite you to learn more about this project by tuning into this podcast titled Conflict, Coffee Farmers, and the Nobel Peace Prize.