Thirty women from Peru and Colombia gathered together for three days of coffee production training – and discovered profound insights that will change their work, and their lives.
For Rosela, just getting to the conference and coffee training location in Colombia was a life changing experience. She’s with a coffee cooperative in Peru called Laguna de los Condores Cooperative.
Ask Google Maps for directions from her home to the site of the conference and the result is a terse, “Sorry, your search appears to be outside our current coverage area for transit.”
The 1800 km trip included 4 hours in a four-wheel drive truck, followed by a 24 hour bus ride to Lima. After a day-long delay to secure travel documents, Rosela experienced her first trip in an airplane, travelling from Peru, to Panama, then on to Colombia.
Though exhausting, the trip strengthened her resolve: “I’m not just going to give 100%, but 1000% to change my life and the lives of other women.”
Rosela’s cooperative in Peru includes 92 women. When she first arrived at the conference, she was shocked. “Honestly, I cried, I despaired…they are 30 years ahead of us. But then I realized, it can be done as women and I’m going to do it. I leave this experience stronger, with a new drive, with the strength to achieve success…I know I can achieve it.”
Rosela’s experience is precisely the result Las Rosas Women’s Group wants to achieve at these conferences. The group was formed in 2010 by a group of 50 women. Overwhelmed by a lack of available credit and by the way they were treated, the women wanted to find ways to strengthen their families and to lead more productive lives. The group now has over 300 members. Projects are focused on coffee production improvement, and are centred on family prosperity and generational renewal.
Las Rosas Women’s Group says coffee production is used as a vehicle to drive change and development: “By prioritizing gender equality and inclusive decision-making in households and on farms, the group is able to receive credit and ownership. This empowers other women to join the group and allows for many of the existing women in the group to take on leadership positions as cooperative members regardless of their status on the farm.”
Rosela’s experience has given her a glimpse into the future. “My dream for my women in 5 years is to have farms just like this one we visited here today; so advanced, so much progress. What these women have for each other…so much love and affection. It’s not just about coffee production, it’s about preparing to make changes to our lifestyle, to get ahead and to be prosperous businesswomen.”