Thursday, June 17, 2010

Locals work for a better Uganda (Pt.2)

Continued from yesterday’s post.

Ugandan President Musevini sat down with Hornbeck, Rawlins and Clay in September 2008. Hornbeck calls Musevini “an economist by education who understands the farmer-owned concept as long as they have a market.” Janet Storton of Sisters was also at the meeting and presented President Musevini with a quilted fabric bag made by the Kapchorwan women she trained through her Sisters of the Heart project – another off-shoot of SCC’s broadening relationship with Kapchorwa.

Last month, Rawlins and Hornbeck put the finishing touches on what Hornbeck calls a “real economic partnership” and KaBuM International (Kapchorwa Bukwo Mild) was launched.

Future Wash. Station Prop. 

Future Washing Station Property


“This year we hope to begin construction of the first farmer-owned washing station,” says Rawlins. “We have a core group of best practices and top farmers in that region. The difference is we let them own the means of production so no middleman can exploit them.”

Farmers will pay off private loans for the infrastructure within five years, out of coffee sales. “Then the Ugandans will own title to the washing station,” adds Hornbeck.

That washing station could be ready in time for this fall’s harvest, and the beans available for sale locally as early as September.

KaBuM boasts a specialized computer system that tracks bean micro-lots by GPS co-ordinates, allowing consumers access to the cupping ratings and personal stories behind their brew.

Like the story of Janet Chemonges who was deserted by her husband years ago. One of a number of female coffee farmers, Chemonges expanded her farm, hired more pickers and received training in new practices with a micro-loan. She’s now the Ugandan representative to Women In Coffee International as well as the mother of two university graduates and two more children who attend Testimony School. She recently rode on an airplane for the first time.


Hornbeck and Rawlins are having no trouble connecting farmers with new buyers who attach value to these personal stories, and facilitating true direct-trade relationships. Sisters Coffee Company is one, eager for a second relationship like the one they’ve developed in Guatemala.

Justin Durham of Sisters Coffee says they are “so psyched to bring in Ugandan coffee.” Durham plans to start by purchasing small quantities, then “hopefully growing it into a sustainable long-term relationship. We want the few we have to be really deep relationships.”

The Ugandan farmers are benefitting on all fronts. The large buying corporations are being held to higher standards, paying better prices. “Now they know. By educating the farmers, they’re becoming liberated,” says Rawlins.

Hornbeck and Rawlins’ stake in KaBuM ends when the loans are paid off. Then, says Rawlins, “We’re out.”

They’ll remain only as consultants and member farmers. 3000 acres were secured on this past trip, an investment in Ugandan coffee for its value as a renewable resource, with profits cycling back into Testimony School. “We’re not interested in making money from coffee. We are interested in making money for Testimony School,” emphasizes Rawlins.

Kapchorwa School Dedication 012

Rawlins points out the higher costs involved in supporting students through secondary school, and he envisions scholarships for Kapchorwan students who show the aptitude for a university education.

Uganda seems to be opening its eyes to future possibilities and its doors to the western coffee culture. Since 2003, Rawlins and Hornbeck watched at least eight attractive coffeehouses spring up in the capital city of Kampala.

In the same period, the faith of the Sabiny tribe grew and some members of Christ Glorious Church even risked their lives to make peace with their life-long enemies. They built a well for – and offered forgiveness to – the machine gun and machete-toting Karamojong raiders who killed their loved ones and burned their homes. Women from both tribes cried together.

A whole lot of Sisters folks took part in the planting and watering of seeds of change in Uganda.

Today, it appears those seeds are taking root, as emboldened farmers are poised to harvest more than just coffee beans this fall. The hope of an educated and revitalized Africa hangs heavy and pregnant from the limbs of countless thriving coffee trees on the dense slopes of Mt Elgon.

Meanwhile, sitting at a table in Sisters Coffee Company, Hornbeck leans forward and his gentle eyes seem to spark as he says, “If coffee enables the country to develop economically – that’s everything. That’s what will change Africa.”

For more information on the outward projects of Sisters Community Church including child sponsorships, contact Paul Rawlins at 541-549-1201 or email

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Locals work for a better Uganda (Pt.1)

2007 Hornbeck at Testimony School dedication

John Hornbeck at Testimony School Dedication 2007

Like a great cup of coffee, the now full-bodied relationship between Sisters and Uganda began with fresh water.

Seven years ago, a team from Sisters Community Church led by pastor Tim Kizziar in cooperation with All Nations Ministries, ventured to a desolated village in Eastern Uganda to offer clean water and spiritual hope.

This fall, coffee aficionados right here in Sisters may get a taste of some unexpected fruits of that journey, simply by brewing a pot of locally-bought coffee.

Amid the steep, lush canyons that camouflaged violent tribes, Kizziar’s original group prayed for healing of the land and its people. And they began the slow work of growing their new friendship with the warm, open-armed Subiny tribe.

“Africa is built on relationships,” says John Hornbeck of Sisters. Hornbeck, an unassuming, retired attorney just back from his latest trip to Uganda, and Paul Rawlins, SCC’s energetic Outward Pastor, are buzzing with excitement over a new coffee-related endeavor that they believe could be a dynamic agent of change for Uganda.

Hornbeck and Rawlins represent hundreds of church members who embraced a long-term commitment to give a leg up to the people of Kapchorwa village in their fight for survival – and revival – under harsh conditions.


Murderous cattle rustlers, AIDS and waterborne diseases are just some of the miseries that decimated the farming community – leaving many homeless, fatherless and vulnerable.

Kizziar partnered with Pastor Godwin of Kapchorwa’s Christ Glorious Church back in 2003, and began exploring ways to help Godwin help his people.

First, SCC provided a well in a soldier-guarded Internally Displaced Peoples (IDP) camp and medical teams to remedy health issues.

Then they addressed the children’s future. Says Hornbeck, “Their young people have a great desire for education and to excel; they have aspirations.”

Today, just up the mountain from the IDP camp stands the newly built Testimony School where, according to Rawlins, 450 children now receive an education, health care, shoes and a daily meal through SCC’s child-sponsorship program. Back in Sisters, many of us display photos of the eager, bright-faced Kapchorwan boys and girls who we support and correspond with.

Garth with our "son" Daniel 

Our Sponsor Child, Daniel

They saw the need for the community to become self-sustaining.

In 2005, an SCC team noted that the only large building in Kapchorwa was a coffee mill. When asked about the quality of their coffee crop, farmers eagerly showed off their beans, and a my husband (who had connections to Starbucks) had the coffee analyzed.

As it turned out, the high altitude and tropical climate along the western slopes of Mt. Elgon yield the ideal growing conditions for quality Arabica beans. Mt. Elgon straddles the border of Kenya to the east and Kenyan coffees typically garner top dollar.

Despite the fact that in the world economy coffee is the second largest commodity next to oil, these simple farmers seemed surprised by the level of interest. Uganda, historically, was a British colony; most Ugandans drink tea.

They sell most of their crop locally, or to large multi-national corporations who pay bottom dollar then market the beans as “farmer co-op.” Rawlins says, “The term is deceitful; consumers don’t know the difference.”

Those corporations further control the farmers because they own the only bean-washing station. According to Hornbeck, “They’re just farmers, with no access to direct buyers and no ability to market.”


Rawlins and Hornbeck explored several scenarios to improve the farmers’ bottom line, but came up dry until two years ago, when they got some help from an unexpected source. Hornbeck’s sister, a member of the board at Michigan State University, connected Hornbeck with Dan Clay, the head of the school’s Institute of Agriculture.

Clay, along with a native Rwandan grad student, had created the PEARL project (The Partnership for Enhancing Agriculture in Rwanda through Linkages) which played a key role in the redevelopment of Rwanda from its devastation by genocide. Hornbeck says that under Clay’s program, “one washing station grew to like a hundred and forty, and coffee became the chief export of Rwanda and the most important economic factor in their recovery.”

When Michigan State performed a diagnostic on coffee grown in the region around Kapchorwa, its high characteristics were confirmed: Arabica, mountain grown, volcanic soil, shade grown. And Hornbeck and Rawlins’ hopes were confirmed that, using Michigan State’s model, they could have a similar success in Uganda.

I’ll post Part 2 Tomorrow.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Major Dishwasher Recall Due to Fire Hazard

The danger of fire hazard has prompted Whirlpool Corp.’s Maytag division to recall approximately 1.7 million dishwashers.

Twelve reports of damage or fires caused by electrical failure in the heating element motivated the recall.

The following brands are included: Maytag, Amana, Jenn-Air, Admiral, Magic Chef, Performa by Maytag and Crosley. Serial numbers involved are listed below.


Here is where you can check your dishwasher’s serial number:

Serial #

You are advised to stop using the recalled dishwashers and to disconnect the electric supply by shutting off the fuse or circuit breaker controlling it.

Consumers can schedule a free in-home repair or receive a rebate of $150 or $250 toward the purchase of select new Maytag dishwashers. The amount of the rebate depends on the type of model to be purchased.

Visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission website for complete information.

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