Creating better living conditions through education
Coffee is grown all around the equator, especially in developing countries where coffee farmers and their families frequently live under difficult social conditions. As part of its social responsibility efforts, Tchibo runs its own projects to help ensure better living conditions in the countries where our coffee originates. True to the principle of "helping people to help themselves," we team up with local partners to offer primarily educational and vocational services for children and teens.
Guatemala: Childcare during the coffee harvest
In Guatemala, where the high-quality Arabica beans for our Privat Kaffee Guatemala Grande are grown, we promote childcare for migrant workers and pickers. The country’s school holidays often overlap with the harvest season for coffee cherries. Since there is hardly any childcare available, many migrant workers and harvest helpers take their sons and daughters with them to the farms. While the little children play on the steep and dangerous slopes, the parents often let the older ones help them pick. In this way, the line to impermissible child labour is frequently crossed, so it is important to provide alternatives. Tchibo therefore promotes educational projects and childcare options in various regions of Guatemala.
In 2011, we partnered with the Coffee Care Association in 2011 to launch a pilot project specifically for migrant workers’ children in the Huehuetenango region. Today, we operate six day-care centres for children aged 2 to 9 there during the harvest season. Childcare is provided in an age-appropriate way according to the Montessori method, and children are also given important hygiene training, as well as receiving healthy meals daily and medical treatment. In the harvest season 2012/2013 we additionally initiated a pilot project for 10- to 13-year-olds at three sites, as this age group is particularly at risk for impermissible child labour. In the project, the teens attend ‘training seminars’ to learn practical skills such as baking or handicrafts. In 2014, we expanded our efforts in Huehuetenago so that we now offer both childcare and seminars for the older children at a total of six locations. More than 500 children accepted our offer in 2014/2015, and the project will be continued in 2016.
In the Chiquimula region, we have cooperated with the world's largest children's rights organisation, Save the Children, since 2013. In six day-care centres, the coffee pickers’ children aged 3 to 13 receive educational and medical care during harvest time. During the 2013/2014 harvest season, more than 650 children received care, and over 700 applications were received for the most recent picking season (2014/2015). About 600 boys and girls were additionally tutored in maths and reading during regular school hours. The project team gave educational and professional training to about 100 teachers for this purpose. Overall, Tchibo has supported the project with approx. 2.4 million euros to date: During the campaign periods, 10 cents were donated to the children's project for every pound of Tchibo Privat Kaffee sold, which resulted in about two million euros raised. Beyond this, 470,000 euros were collected for the project during the RTL Spendenmarathon telethon in November 2014 as part of a cooperation with the ‘RTL – Wir helfen Kindern’ foundation and [the German TV sports journalist] Ulrike von der Groeben as project sponsor.
After initial scepticism among the parents – day-care isn’t yet commonplace in Guatemala – acceptance of the facilities is growing and the parents are happy to have their children cared for during the harvest work. Thanks to this positive development and the success of the promotion campaign, we were able to expand the project to the Jacaltenango region in October 2014. Here, another four day-care centres are to be built by September 2018, to provide care for more than 600 children during the harvest season.
Tanzania: Improving the educational situation for children and teens
Based on the successful cooperation in Guatemala, since June 2015 we have cooperated with our project partner Save the Children to improve the education situation for children and teens in Tanzania as well. Working on certified coffee farms is generally possible only from the age of 18 in Tanzania. But young people often end their schooling at the age of 13 to 15 years, and there are few opportunities for beginning an apprenticeship once they do. Such training centres are often too far away, or the youngsters lack the required school credentials.
With this project, we hope to encourage more children – especially girls – to attend school regularly, and – by improving instruction in schools – to help more teens to successfully complete primary school. Also, to help more students continue their education at a secondary school after completing primary school. However, the project is aimed not only at students but also at parents and teachers: parents are encouraged to get involved in their children's education and push for it. Teachers receive training to help them make their classroom instruction more practical and more conducive to the children’s development.
Teens and young adults are also incorporated into the project: Here, too, the idea is to put girls and women in particular in a position to earn their own income. For this purpose, the plan is to create training centres, from 2016, where the young adults can complete apprenticeships to become seamsters or carpenters.
Mount Kenya: Strengthening the role of the women farmers
Most people in the Mount Kenya region live off the land. In addition to vegetables and bananas, the key crop here is coffee, which ranks among the best in the world due to its aroma. Traditionally, women receive an inadequate share from the proceeds of the coffee cultivation, so they don’t have the funds to significantly improve their families’ living conditions. Often, they also lack important skills to achieve their own goals. This is where Tchibo’s Mount Kenya Project enters the picture. Together with the women of the Baragwi Farmer Cooperative, we analysed where the need for assistance is greatest. This resulted in four subprojects: improving the water supply, purchasing livestock, supply of construction materials, and education. From 2011 to 2013, we systematically assisted more than 1,000 women farmers and their families in implementing these subprojects, e.g. the construction of a 12-kilometre pipeline for water, and the purchase of energy-saving stoves. Based on the positive experiences gained, we expanded our support to five other cooperatives on Mount Kenya: wells were built and a variety of facilities were constructed in seven subprojects, including classrooms that can accommodate children with learning disabilities, a multipurpose hall, and a school laboratory. This project was successfully completed in 2013.
A subsequent survey of farmers' wives in Baragwi returned the following results:
- For the majority of households in the subproject, drinking water is now available even during periods of drought. Families use the new water lines to tap additional sources of income or improve their diet, e.g. with vegetable gardens.
- Using loans from the project fund, the women from the newly founded Mount Kenya Dairy Association were able to buy several cows as a supplement to agriculture. The cows' milk gives them additional income, and the manure can be used as a free fertilizer for the farm.
- The women felt that one of the biggest improvements was the establishment of a shared network. The women's groups from the individual villages no longer act in isolation but can learn from each other and work together to improve their situation.
In 2014, the women were able to use the remaining project funds to further increase their autonomy: They organized training on management techniques and sustainable farming practices, and financed smaller purchases.
The Mount Kenya project has strengthened the self-confidence of many women. The status of women in this region has begun to change in their families and communities, too. They are increasingly taking on more responsible positions in the parishes and other institutions. After completing the training, the women formed a Mount Kenya Project Committee from their own project groups, which has now taken over the project management with the aim of continuing the close cooperation between the women.