Hello all! My name is Ana Gonzalez and I am a student at University of the Pacific  in Stockton, California. This summer I am doing an internship with PRODECOOP , a Fair Trade coffee cooperative, as a part of the Global Center for Social Entrepreneurship's Ambassador Corp Program . This is the first in a series of blog posts that I will write throughout the summer about this prominent Fair Trade Coffee Cooperative in Estelí, Nicaragua . I look forward to sharing my Fair Trade story with you as it unfolds before me.
Established in 1993, PRODECOOP was the very first cooperative in Nicaragua to operate under Fair Trade terms. For nearly two decades the organization has served as a "cooperative of cooperatives," offering services (like commercialization, technical assistance, management training and credit) to other cooperatives and small producers of the Las Segovia region. This region includes the districts of Estelí, Madriz, and Nueva Segovia in the northern region of Nicaragua. PRODECOOP is not only focused on its coffee services, but also on improving the lives of its associates and community. It has a powerful Gender Policy that has been immensely successful, as well as an education project for the sons and daughters of associates, from primary education to higher education.
Fair Trade for a Cause
During the last couple of weeks I have wittnessed the power of PRODECOOP and the people within it who genuinely care about their mission. During the first two weeks of June, the cooperative held a raffle to benefit children with cancer. The money they raised was collected to buy necessities for the children in the hospital for things like hats, sandals, soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes, etc, as well as care packages for the parents staying with the children. Together, with the efforts of the personnel and other participating companies, they were able to raise C$13,987, which is roughly around $650 U.S. dollars. The amazing thing is that they were able to complete the purchases with only half of this amount.
A Smile Speaks a Thousand Words
On the 11th of June, PRODECOOP staff, in partnership with ASOLCAN-Esteli, went to visit the children with cancer in Nicaragua's Manuel de Jesus Rivera Children's Hospital, nicknamed " La Mascota", which serves children on a national level. The visit was a life-changing experience that I was glad to be a part of. It was amazing to hear from these children, who ranged in age from just six months to 14 years old. The most touching part of it all was the smiles we brought upon these children's faces; in the end it wasn’t as much about the toys or packages we brought them, but the company which we were able to provide.
The second we entered the room and began talking with these children, a sparkle emerged in their eyes and a smile across their face. We spent roughly four hours visiting each room and talking a bit with each child and parent. I was surprised that some traveled from the Atlantic side of Nicaragua, or even from the towns bordering Honduras, which is around a day's trip or more.
In the end, the strength of these children was probably the most astonishing thing about my visit. It was as much of an experience for them as it was for me to be able to participate in this activity that touched many hearts. This event will now be held tri-annually, and an activity will be held three times a year by PRODECOOP to raise funds for the young patients at "La Mascota".