As the world celebrates International Women’s Day, March 8, we celebrate the triumph of spirit of women from around the world, especially those in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, and realize that their fight for economic and social freedom continues.
In the past decade, violence, poverty and disease in the Democratic Republic of Congo have claimed the lives of over 5 million men, women and children. Despite democratic elections and multiple peace agreements, the eastern region is still impacted by conflict—more than 1.3 million people are not able to return to their homes.
Through the tragedy, hope still shines in the coffee farming villages along Lake Kivu in the Eastern DR Congo. Coffee trees are coming back to life — a reflection of the enduring force of nature and the indelible human spirit of those tending to them.
Yet the uncertainly and threat remains. Every day, the women in Eastern Congo face continued obstacles to their ongoing recovery, as it is one of the most violent and difficult places to be a woman. Whether they are a farmer of coffee or a staple crop, these women continually struggle to find the means to get by and to care for their families.
In an effort to support the recovery of these communities, the second annual JavaJog will be held April 25th in Seattle in conjunction with the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s Annual Conference and Exhibition. JavaJog, which brings together the coffee community for a fun and fitness event that benefits a great cause, will raise funds to invest in community-based efforts to improve the quality of coffee and the lives of the people who produce it, with a particular focus on women.
On Friday, April 25th more than 100 coffee industry professionals will gather at South Lake Union Park in Seattle, WA for the second annual JavaJog 5K (and 10K).
The objective of JavaJog 2014 is to build a collaborative platform of companies and organizations working in the Eastern DR Congo to:
• Put Congo Coffee, and the communities that produce it, on the map;
• Elevate the profile of women in these communities; and to
• Raise funds to invest in community-based efforts to improve quality of coffee and the lives of the people who produce it, with a particular focus on women.
Several coffee-community businesses have signed on to help raise awareness and money for the women in Eastern Congo, joining together with JavaJog in its efforts to reach this year’s goal of $30,000. Westrock Coffee based in North Little Rock, AR, has signed on as Platimum Sponsor of JavaJog 2014. Other sponsors include Equal Exchange, Baratza, and Roast Magazine.
In addition to company sponsors, each participant in JavaJog 2014 will raise money for the cause. Runners and walkers have set up fundraising campaigns on the JavaJog Crowdrise site, and are reaching out to their own networks to spread the word and garner support. Prizes will be awarded to the top fund-raisers.
Last April, at the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) Annual Conference and Exhibition in Boston, fifteen runners raised $7,326 for the women’s committee at the Sopacdi cooperative in the Kivu region of Congo.
The women have invested the funds to make a difference in the lives of women not only from the coffee cooperative, but more broadly for women impacted by the ongoing violence. Half of the funds were invested to implement specific income generating activities, including small portable mills and a boat engine to provide transport services to the community. Profits from the project have been transferred to a microcredit and savings institution based in Minova. The other 50% of the funds was donated to local health centers around Minova who regularly attend women affected by sexual violence.
Funds from Java Jog 2014 will be invested through Sopacdi and other community based organizations working in the region through the Eastern Congo Initiative.
Please join JavaJog and its sponsors in our efforts to bring caring industry professionals together in solidarity with women in the Democratic Republic of Congo – to understand, to advocate and to do more – together.
This International Women’s Day, join together with JavaJog in support of these women. Visit JavaJog.org to participate. To support runners and walkers, head on over to Crowdrise. For sponsorship opportunities, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.