Blog: My time in Pluma

Hi everyone! This is Umi here.

I am writing this from Pluma Hidalgo – where we have our project! I have been here for the last 11 days. My purpose of the stay here was very simple. I just wanted to see the place and meet people. I was lucky enough to join The Lucy Foundation team last April as an intern. Ever since, I really wanted to see the real Pluma Hidalgo.

A bit about me

I am born with a condition called Osteogenesis Imperfecta which makes my bones fragile. I have had fractures 15 times, but it has not stopped me from travelling. When I travel, I take my manual wheelchair, which means that I need support from other people to go places. But because of that I get to spend more time with people. My time here in Pluma has been absolutely amazing.

The people of Pluma Hidalgo

As I heard it from Robbie, people here are little more reserved than people from other countries such as Colombia (which I visited prior to coming here). However, once you get to know them, the warmth you feel from people is beautiful. When we walk down the street to the centre of the village, everyone greets each other. Some people I met said it was the first time for them to meet a Japanese person (I am originally from Japan). Especially a Japanese person in a wheelchair I bet! It has been an honour to be able to show that it is possible to travel in a wheelchair.

It is usually a quiet and peaceful village, yet since it is closer to Christmas we have been having a lot of fiestas, which start at 10pm and continue until midnight! There are lots of music, dancing and delicious food. Even children stay up until midnight to enjoy with everyone.

I was always very curious about situations for people with disabilities in other countries, especially in remote areas. In this village it seems like even though they are not given as many opportunities, their dignity and freedom is respected to a certain degree.

Working together as a team

I absolutely love that people with disabilities in this community have became part of our program because they want to work on the coffee project. Juan who is deaf and mute, is now learning how to sign a little more so he can communicate with us more. I went with the guys involved in our project and Ryan, who is the field director, to one of the houses in the village to fix their door. Ryan taught the guys how to fix parts of the door.. It was very simple things, but being able to do things by ourselves was wonderful.

I know that because I have had to spend a lot of time not being able to get up from my bed. Things are moving maybe slow and steady with the project, but the trust we are building in the community is very firm. And I like that a lot.

I also learned what hard work it is to grow coffee. Despite being an intern in The Lucy Foundation, I did not drink too much coffee. However, seeing how coffee trees grow in beautiful forests and how touching it can be to harvest them deepens my love for coffee. Also, a surprise for me was that coffee is a very sweet and yummy fruit by itself!  

The people who lived in this area have lived here for the last 10,000 years, which is a time frame I cannot even imagine. I am very lucky to be here and absorb the energy and wisdom of people here directly.[:]

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And the sorting begins....

Each family is paid by the weight of the coffee they sort, meaning they can take as much or as little time as needed. Some family members are fast, some family members are slower, but when they work together they get it done!

"Today we started selecting the coffee. Pepe, Juan and Doña Victoria helped us, carefully inspecting each grain with love and joy. These meetings are where we learn and talk, and where everyone shares their story of the day." - Cata

#TheBestCoffeeOfAllIsCoffeeForAll #DisabilityInclusion #DisabilityEmployment #WorkingTogether #SharingStories
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Do you have a laptop you no longer want or need? In a few weeks Ryan Sanders will be returning to Mexico, and we want to send a laptop with him to give to Cata and the crew. At the moment they are using a phone for all their updates, research, budgets, and admin. A laptop would make such a difference!

If you can help, flick us an email on [email protected]

#recyle #reuse #socialenterprise #disabilityrights #disabilityinclusion #accessibility #accessibletechnology

[Image description: crossed legs next to an open laptop on the floor.]
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2 weeks ago

The Lucy Foundation

The next step of our process is to weigh and allocate 'gold coffee' to each family we partner with. A key aspect of our business model is ensuring people with and without disabilities have the opportunity to work together on shared tasks such as sorting coffee - we believe this is one of the best ways to dismantle ableist attitudes.

Of course, delivering bags of gold coffee around the village is thirsty work, so the team stopped by our friend Rosie's cafe - La boveda del cafe pluma hidalgo - for a coffee when they were done!

#belonging #disabilityinclusion #thebestcoffeeofalliscoffeeforall
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2 weeks ago

The Lucy Foundation

While us Kiwis have spent the summer enjoying 2019's Pluma coffee, over in Mexico a fresh crop of coffee cherries has been picked and dried, and is now being processed by the disabled people we employ, together with their families. Over the next couple of weeks the team wants share their process with us using photos.

First step: remove the outer husk from the coffee seed. "The retrilla process is where a special machine removes the parchment to free the seed or kernel, resulting in 'gold coffee'. Our team will then sort through the gold coffee to select the best beans for shipment to New Zealand. In these pictures you can see Juanito placing the parchment into the retrilla machine, and showing you how gold coffee turns out after this process." - Cata

#DisabilityInclusion #TheBestCoffeeOfAllIsCoffeeForAll #FilterCoffeeNotPeople #InclusiveCoffee #SocialEnterprise
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