Coffee company funding girls’ education in Mozambique one bag at a time
Brett Kuxhausen
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Gorongosa Coffee

When it comes to education, females are still at a disadvantage compared to their male counterparts. Sixteen million girls around the world will never set foot in a classroom, and women account for two-thirds of the 750 million adults without basic literacy skills, according to UNESCO.

This gender inequality is also a major cause and effect of poverty and hunger, with women and girls making up an estimated 60% of chronically hungry people, statistics from U.N. Women reveal.

Girls' education is a crucial component of decreasing the gender gap; every additional year of primary school a girl attends will increase her eventual wages by 10 to 20% and encourage her to marry later and have fewer children, leaving her less vulnerable to violence and poverty.

While there are many ways in which we can contribute to the efforts of those working to ensure girls get the education they deserve, one company has made it as simple as buying a bag of coffee.

In 2015, the Gorongosa Project partnered with green bean coffee experts and local farmers to plant coffee on Mount Gorongosa in Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique. The shade-grown coffee is planted alongside native tree saplings to restore the depleted rainforest and provide farmers with a sustainable source of income.

Brett Kuxhausen

From this, Gorongosa Coffee was born. The company, founded by Gorongosa National Park, directly supports the activities of the Gorongosa Project, with every purchase of its products aiding human development and conservation activities in the area.

The beans are harvested by small-scale producers in Mozambique and then roasted into three different blends by partners around the world. Each blend serves a specific impact area, including wildlife conservation, rainforest reforestation, and girls' education.

One hundred percent of the profits from the Girls Run the World blend help to build 100 schools, give 20,000 girls access to after-school programs, and provide 500 high school scholarships. Even the purchase of just one bag equals one day in school for a girl.

"Our main aim is to keep girls in school, because for many reasons, as soon as girls are old enough…12 or 13, they normally are sent to get married," Larissa Sousa, the girls education program manager at Gorongosa National Park, said.

One way the park does this is through its Girls' Club, a program that works to prevent premature marriages and keep girls in school so they have access to more resources and can become self-reliant.

"We want to work with the most vulnerable…in the community to give opportunity to these children. So what we want is to try to have this generation of women who have the opportunity to continue education, who can grow and be what they want to be, who have better opportunities than the previous generation had," Sousa said.

Brett Kuxhausen

Sousa explains the program works to inform both the girls and their parents of the importance of getting an education and how that will have a big impact on their future.

"What we are doing is for these girls to try to create safe spaces, open doors to the opportunities that they can have, and also create that sense of thinking about the future that what you do today will have an action, a reaction in the future, that everything we do has a consequence," she said.

The results of the work Sousa and Girls' Club are doing is already evident.

"We've known the girls for some time now, so now we can see that they are already more confident. They want to know more about the world," Sousa said.

"In the beginning, you would greet the girls and they would run away. They're open now to opportunities. They want to know more of life…they're curious. It's very interesting how some of the girls already come and say, oh I want to be a doctor, I want to be this, because now they see this is possible so that's what makes us work harder every day," she said.

Anora Manuel, 13, is one such example. Manuel participates in Girls' Club after school and says she wants to be a ranger when she grows up.

"I live with my father and grandfather. I don't have a mother. I'm a child and I want to study. I don't want to get married," Manuel said.

To help Girls' Club continue this important work, all you have to do is swap your current coffee for Gorongosa Coffee's Girls Run the World blend and know that with every sip, you're helping close the gender gap and giving a girl the opportunity to dream bigger for her life.

Put simply, "educating a woman is educating a society," according to Sousa.

Courtesy of Tiffany Obi
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With the COVID-19 pandemic upending her community, Brooklyn-based singer Tiffany Obi turned to healing those who had lost loved ones the way she knew best — through music.

Obi quickly ran into one glaring issue as she began performing solo at memorials. Many of the venues where she performed didn't have the proper equipment for her to play a recorded song to accompany her singing. Often called on to perform the day before a service, Obi couldn't find any pianists to play with her on such short notice.

As she looked at the empty piano at a recent performance, Obi's had a revelation.

"Music just makes everything better," Obi said. "If there was an app to bring musicians together on short notice, we could bring so much joy to the people at those memorials."

Using the coding skills she gained at Pursuit — a rigorous, four-year intensive program that trains adults from underserved backgrounds and no prior experience in programming — Obi turned this market gap into the very first app she created.

She worked alongside four other Pursuit Fellows to build In Tune, an app that connects musicians in close proximity to foster opportunities for collaboration.

When she learned about and applied to Pursuit, Obi was eager to be a part of Pursuit's vision to empower their Fellows to build successful careers in tech. Pursuit's Fellows are representative of the community they want to build: 50% women, 70% Black or Latinx, 40% immigrant, 60% non-Bachelor's degree holders, and more than 50% are public assistance recipients.

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I remember being baffled so many people were so convinced of Clinton's evil schemes that they genuinely saw the documented serial liar and cheat that she was running against as the lesser of two evils. I mean, sure, if you believe that a career politician had spent years being paid off by powerful people and was trafficking children to suck their blood in her free time, just about anything looks like a better alternative.

But none of that was true.

It's been four years and Hillary Clinton has been found guilty of exactly none of the criminal activity she was being accused of. Trump spent every campaign rally leading chants of "Lock her up!" under the guise that she was going to go to jail after the election. He's been president for nearly four years now, and where is Clinton? Not in jail—she's comfy at home, occasionally trolling Trump on Twitter and doing podcasts.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

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The harm done with racist humor isn't just the emotional hurt they can cause. When a group of white people shares jokes at the expense of a marginalized or oppressed racial group, the power of white supremacy is actually reinforced—not only because of the "punching down" nature of such humor, but because of the group dynamics that work in favor of maintaining the status quo.

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With the election quickly approaching, the importance of voting and sending in your ballot on time is essential. But there is another way you can vote everyday - by being intentional with each dollar you spend. Support companies and products that uphold your values and help create a more sustainable world. An easy move is swapping out everyday items that are often thrown away after one use or improperly disposed of.

Package Free Shop has created products to help fight climate change one cotton swab at a time! Founded by Lauren Singer, otherwise known as, "the girl with the jar" (she initially went viral for fitting 8 years of all of the waste she's created in one mason jar). Package Free is an ecosystem of brands on a mission to make the world less trashy.

Here are eight of our favorite everyday swaps:

1. Friendsheep Dryer Balls - Replace traditional dryer sheets with these dryer balls that are made without chemicals and conserve energy. Not only do these also reduce dry time by 20% but they're so cute and come in an assortment of patterns!

Package Free Shop

2. Last Swab - Replacement for single use plastic cotton swabs. Nearly 25.5 billion single use swabs are produced and discarded every year in the U.S., but not this one. It lasts up to 1,000 uses as it's able to be cleaned with soap and water. It also comes in a biodegradable, corn based case so you can use it on the go!

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