Photo above: Gennri Herrera, 39, and his wife Marisol, 42, are coffee farmers in Honduras. And they wouldn't have it any other way.
Like many in Honduras, their formal education ended at sixth grade, giving them limited financial options. So Gennri (pronounced Henri) and Marisol began to work and, later, started a family. Today they have four children – three boys and a girl, three of whom have World Vision sponsors in the United States.
Growing and sharing
In 2004, Gennri became part of a World Vision-sponsored savings group, which serves as a bank for the poor. Honduran banks can charge up to 36 percent interest on loans, but a savings group charges far less. In 2007, the group bought a coffee processing machine from Brazil. The massive machine sorts, washes and dries coffee beans. The group is now a cooperative with assets and a business plan.
And Marisol? Although she had just a sixth-grade education, Marisol went on to earn a degree in business administration from a local university. Now, the business she runs with Gennri employs a dozen people and provides 125 farmers with a place to sell their coffee beans. And their own coffee warehouse is piled high with colourful bags of beans, ready for shipping to local markets and internationally to companies such as Starbucks.
In Honduras, poverty forces choices on youth and parents that no one should ever have to make – such as taking low-paying and abusive child labour during the harvest season, or sending your children outside the country to find work or to escape gangs. Marisol and Gennri know this reality and give back to the community from their own blessings. "We believe in youth," says Gennri. The couple leads a youth group with 20 members, teaching them business skills and providing mentoring. All of their own children are now in college except the youngest, who is finishing tenth grade.
Positive alternatives in global supply chains
We know that at the far end of global supply chains are often tragic stories of child labour and even slave-like conditions. Gennri and Marisol show us there is an alternative – that the products we consume and enjoy can support fair and life-giving models of production.
Here in Canada, World Vision is working with government on developing a response to child labour and modern slavery – one that supports the kind of positive supply chains that Marisol and Gennri are part of. We’ll keep you posted on how you can be part of this important development. Two immediate actions you can take are:
Kari Constanza contributed; photo: Lauren Reed
- Sign and share our No Child For Sale petition showing broad Canadian support for fair supply chains.
- Buy coffee, tea and other products from producers with sustainable farming, as in our story, or that bear one of the certified ethical labels below.