Esperance’s Story

Courtney Lang August 7, 2009

EsperanceEsperance Nyirangirimfura born New Years Day 1953 is a coffee producer. She has spent many years teaching primary school at the Ecole Primaire de Gakenke in north central Rwanda, but makes her living as cultivating coffee on the steep hillsides of the Rwandan countryside. Esperance is a member of Abakunda Kawa Cooperative (translation from Kinyarwanda: Coffee Lovers) in the district of Rushashi. She joined the cooperative in 2004 and was a founding member of the Hinga Kawa women’s association. Hinga Kawa is an association of 109 women coffee producers that meet and work together to ameliorate the livelihoods of women coffee producers in their region. Thirty percent of the association’s members are widows and sole head of households’.

Esperance has been raising her 8 children alone for the past 17 years. She has been selling her coffee and receiving Fair Trade premiums since 2006. The fair trade premium has allowed her to construct a new home, purchase 3 dairy cows that produce milk for her children’s consumption as well as producing compost for her coffee plants. She has also been able to invest in her children’s education “all of my children are in school and they study very well,” she exclaimed.

In 2009, Esperance attended the Specialty Coffee Association of America conference, the largest specialty coffee conference in the world. At SCAA, Esperance represented her community for the first time on an international level. Esperance had never traveled outside of Rwanda and this opportunity was eye opening for her. “I participated at SCAA where I met many different people; farmers, buyers, consumers, foundations. I was opened to the coffee world on a whole other level, all of this is due to our great partner TransFair USA.”

Esperance is currently in the midst of the Rwandan coffee harvest and no doubt working hard every single day to not only bring consumers great quality coffee, but to invest cherry by cherry in the livelihood of her community.

Thanks Epserance!!

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Courtney Lang, National Organizer | Fair Trade Campaigns

Courtney Lang brings over 5 years of community organizing to Fair Trade Towns USA, building both the Local Food and Fair Trade networks in Vermont. As Local Food Coordinator with City Market/Onion River Cooperative, Courtney worked with local producers, institutions and consumers to grow the local food system and organize a strategic model for community engagement through farm tours, workshops, and local food challenges. Like many in the Fair Trade industry, Courtney was inspired to take action in Fair Trade when she witnessed child-labor first hand in Costa Rica. As a founding member of Fair Trade Burlington, she has worked with economic development organizations, businesses, and consumers to build awareness of Fair Trade among Vermonters. She also worked with a Fair Trade USA licensee, Vermont Coffee Company, as Friend Ambassador where she united the story of Fair Trade to every purchase of coffee.