Saturday, 30 January 2010

Kanlungan Coffee is better than starbucks

So today we took the journey to the boys farm about 50mins south east of Manila. After the now daily question of 'how far is it?' and the familiar reply 'its about an hour' we got going. It was another really hot day and the views on the drive over Lake Taal were spectacular despite the journey taking a little over 2 hours (we think!).

After  a brief stop to wait for Frank & Esther to join us we headed off to the boys home. This place houses about 18 boys aged 12-20 who go to school but live together here with a teacher and social worker. Now, as i reflect on this i've come to view the accomodation as fairly normal - its a two storey stone building but the sleeping is done on thin mattresses on the concrete floor. The mattresses are stacked upstairs in the daytime to make room for a lounge. The staff have rooms upstairs where they can work and sleep but the rest of the house is pretty basic. There is one tv, one computer which the boys gather round enthusiastically and it is from here that they are to continue their studies! I need to stress as if it hasn't been understood previously - these conditions were near luxurious compared to the way a good deal of people live here in Manila. The most shocking thing about it perhaps was the fact that we were no longer shocked.

A few minutes up the road is the boys farm. This is a working farm where the boys live and work the farm. We were treated first of all to a drink of fresh coconut juice from the coconut, prepared with incredible speed and skill by Lito, our driver. We were then given lunch after the customary introductions from the boys (which today included 2 or 3 with special needs). These were aged 14-20 - they are not at school, they attend some alternative education, vocational courses in woodwork, mechanics and discipleship stuff at the local church but whose skills extend to climbing a coconut tree and picking a bunch of coconuts. We were very impressed.

We continued our tour of the farm looking at the coffee grown, the banana and pepper plants and exploring the land that the farm occupies. From this farm, produce is exported to the other Kanlungan centres and any surplus is sold so the project can benefit. We heard about the diiferent types of coffee and the principle one grown at Kanlungan (the exact name i forget) is widley agreed to be a nicer and richer blend than the one that Starbucks use. So there it is, the Kanlungan coffee is better than Starbucks, and totally fairtrade.

The great thing about Kanlungan is that even though they are a fairly small NGO they are still looking to develop people rather than just help them. So our driver, Lito is employed as a driver after coming through the Kanlungan projects and centres. The vision for the coffee farm is to open a coffee shopm in Manila and give the boys a job selling it and running their coffee shop so that they can earn a wage, become independent and self sufficient and move on to a more stable and full life.

We continue to be overwhelmed by the dedication of the staff, not just to the project, but to the children also. the more we see, the more I am impressed with Kanlungan on a number of levels not least in their dedication and fervour in worship, again displayed today as we prayed and sang together. It was a welcome reminder that once again, those who have so little are full of gratitude and thanks to God for the little they have. It is a challenge to say the least to us who have so much and are so often lacking in such gratitude and thanks.

PS Buy Kanlugan coffee - i will bring back loads!!!!

PPS we've tried some and it actually tastes well nice!

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