For years, our company has talked about the dedication we have to support coffee farmers and their communities.
The majority of the world’s coffee supply comes from under-resourced areas. Healthcare, education, food and often, water are in short supply. Our desire has always been to stand in that gap. The thinking went, if we encourage high-quality coffee production, those farms could charge a premium price and earn a living wage for their families and workers.
Right now, that’s not working out so well.
Over these past days, we’ve been talking to import partners who are in regular contact with their farmers. The reports are often despairing.
One importer was telling me about one of his farmers in Central America who lives in a remote village near his farm. In his case, he actually has some cash reserves because of the generous relationship he has with our import partner. But the shelves in the local grocery markets are barren.
Another partner based in the United States has farm operations in Honduras. He has been applying for some of the US government aid but, because his employees are in Honduras, very little funds are available. He’s worried about the viability of his company.
As I listen to these and so many other similar stories, I’m heartbroken. I wish there was something we could do to help all these families and alleviate their struggle. I ask myself, “if you are committed to these people on the margins, where is your commitment?”
The words I often lean on when advising others in similar circumstances are fighting for my consciousness: “if you stopped looking at the need and, instead, focused squarely on what you can do, what would those things be? And if you measured success not by how you alleviate the need, but by how well you do the things you can do, how are you faring?”
I believe those words. They don’t make me particularly happy because I have to accept the limits of what I can and can’t do. But they do help keep me focused on my own response to the world’s needs—and whether or not I’m living into my capacity to do good.
So for Mill47, I realize our commitment isn’t so much a commitment to people as much as it is a commitment to values. These values are a set of personal truths that orient our attention and work toward people who need to be elevated into wholeness. We therefore measure our action and success based on how well we honor these values.
We can only hope that as we and so many others live into similar values, the collective impact is something remarkable and lasting. In the end, I believe, that will reflect a global commitment to people.