Written by Diana Olsen, President & Founder of Balzac’s Coffee Roasters
Last week our Director of Coffee, Will Thorburn and myself had the amazing opportunity to visit the Las Rosas Women’s Group in Colombia, hosted by RGC Coffee. It is harvest season in Colombia so I anticipated that we would be visiting some farms, meeting growers and pickers and sampling some amazing coffees. What actually happened far surpassed my expectations and was in fact a much more enriching experience. We were met in Bogota by the lovely Angela Pelaez, a RGC employee who is intimately involved with the Women’s Group on a daily basis. We then flew in a prop plane to a city called Neiva, then drove 2 1/2 hours south to the village of La Plata in the heart of the Huila region.
Once in La Plata, we then took our Jeep deep into the mountains and ascended to an altitude of around 1600 meters above sea level. We visited several small, remote family owned and operated farms, with coffee trees dispersed throughout the rough terrain amongst the indigenous rainforest flora. The people were incredibly open and welcoming, bringing us into their homes above the clouds.
At one farm, the Las Rosas women were conducting a day long training seminar for their members on Domestic violence and gender equity. It was heartening to see many of them accompanied by their husbands who are learning to support and encourage the new found empowerment that these women have acquired through the Las Rosas organization. These men are opening themselves up to create what the program calls a new masculinity. Encouraging men to work as a team with their wives and respect their choices. These families are learning life skills, business skills, coffee farming skills and the results are evident. Many women shared with us the past trauma they and their families have experienced in a country where political unrest and drug cartels have led to many deaths, violence, and financial hardship. The Las Rosas Coop has provided these women with the opportunity to prosper and heal, which these women have whole-heartedly embraced.
I’m so proud that BALZAC’S gives support to these amazing women and their families. The coffee from Las Rosas is delicious, but now knowing the beautiful stories and people in the background, I can savour it in a much deeper way. Thank you RGC for bringing us on this important journey with you and the women of Las Rosas.