Potable water is a luxury AND a basic need.
The cost of water is something that most of us do not really think about. It is delivered right into our glass when we turn on the faucet. We can walk into a store and buy a bottle. In the remote areas where Cafe de la Esperanza is grown, water is ubiquitous in the form of rivers and streams flowing from the mountains. Unfortunately, it also carries natural diseases and must be boiled for 3 minutes to disinfect disease-bearing micro-organisms before it is safe to drink.
The houses in these mountainous regions burn a lot of wood for cooking and disinfecting water. A typical wood burning stove can fill up the house with smoke even with a chimney for a vent. The stoves would be on for most of the day and sometimes part of the night to keep the house warm. The constant smoke can lead to health problems.
Each village is composed of many houses with wood burning stoves, so the smoke problem is multiplied by the number of houses that are in a community and the related health problems are multiplied by the number of members in each household.
How do we reduce the amount of smoke in a community and still provide safe water for drinking?
One of our coffee partners, Ken Rembert of The Bagel Bakery in Gainesville, Florida, spearheaded a project to subsidize the purchase of mini-water filters from Sawyer for families. The water filters addressed many issues involved with the cost of potable water:
-provided safe drinking water
-reduced the amount of smoke in the home and in the community
-reduced the cost of buying firewood
-reduced the task of gathering firewood by children
The job of gathering firewood was a daily task for children, big and small, climbing up and down the mountain slopes carrying bundles of twigs and branches on their backs and machetes for cutting the wood down to size. Reducing the imminent task of gathering firewood gave some children more time to engage in other tasks around the home or the opportunity for more education.