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By Lisa Z. Leighton
Twenty years after the genocide that devastated Rwanda, families continue to put their lives back together. Children have lost fathers and women have lost husbands, but the strength and perseverance of the Rwandan people was recently witnessed by Bradford (Brad) Bason, owner of Bason Coffee Roasting, and his sixteen year old daughter, Elizabeth, on a recent trip to Rwanda.
The excursion wasn’t a pleasure trip, but rather an opportunity to complete a feasibility study and draft a business plan that might assist local families with increased and more efficient coffee planting and production.
The Bason family isn’t a stranger to the region. In fact, Elizabeth traveled to Rwanda twice before this trip and served as a guide of sorts for her father. Over the years, through their home church, Bloomsburg Christian Church, the Basons have supported the City of Joy Rwanda mission and the ministry of Todd and Andrea Ellingson.
For a week in August, Brad and Elizabeth traveled to Gatagara, about two hours south of the Rwandan capital of Kigali, and met with local farmers and government officials to see how their experience with coffee planting and production might serve the Rwandan community. They analyzed soil samples, climate, rainfall, harvesting techniques and production methods to see how operations might be improved.
Now that the feasibility study has been completed and the varieties of beans have been selected based on the trip’s findings, Brad is writing a business plan that will be presented to the City of Joy Rwanda board of directors. Upon approval, a fundraising effort for $15,000 will be launched; once $10,000 is secured, the project will take root.
Funds raised will be used for additional land acquisition as well as fair labor rates for coffee farm workers. Brad hopes that the coffee farm will largely be women-run, with a particular emphasis on employing widows who continue to suffer from the loss caused by the genocide decades ago.
Because the beans will be sold to a co-op, the Basons will likely never see the beans that they will help to grow, but the impact of their research will be felt one-thousand fold.
To learn more about the effort, contact Brad at 570-764-2740, or email.
Lisa Z. Leighton is a marketing professional and freelance writer who lives in Columbia County.