A new year is well underway! UMF has been in operation for over a year with amazing success. However, before I expand on that success and the future vision for La Union and our organization’s place in it, I would like to pause to give you a more intimate picture of the UMF team. Who is this unique team of Hondurans and Gringos that have dedicated their lives to the growth and prosperity of La Union region of Honduras? What motivates them? Who are they individually? And, how do they work together to reach the farmers, families and communities of La Union, Honduras? Through individual stories, introductions, pictures, and quotes, I will spend the rest of the month of February answering these questions and many more. I hope through it all you get to know “us” better and by doing so feel that you yourself are or can be a part of our team and the vision for La Union and Honduras.
I will begin by say this -living out our dream is one of the hardest things any one of us on the UMF team has ever done. At times, living out our dream means long days, low wages and seeing our families and friends only a few times a year.
In our first year of operation, we as a team took a vow of poverty - meaning that our entire staff would make minimum wage or below. Our gringo staff in Honduras made 1/3 of the monthly minimum wage. Our US Director made 1/6 of the minimum wage based on a 40 our work week in the US and our Honduran staff made minimum wage. We as a team did this so in our first year we could get as many loans to the farmers of La Union as possible and buy as much coffee as we could for shipment to the US.
Besides this we have experienced all the hardships and growing pains of starting a new business, especially one in a down economy. You may be asking yourself at this point, why go through all the trouble?
The truth is, not a single one of us would give it up. Living out our dream is truly astounding and it is just that, it is our dream. We cannot image wanting to do anything other than what we are doing now. We are excited and proud of what we’ve accomplished in a year. We have been blessed with the resources that we have received and most of all feel led and inspired to work with and serve the people of La Union.
For us, no two days are ever the same. Monday may require filling coffee sales orders, Tuesday may start with a discussion about how to best incentivize early repayment on microloans, followed by a Wednesday filled with both national and international shipping logistics for microlots of coffee. The pace never slows down. From this work, though, everything accomplished is our own creation—made by our ideas, and our hands -- formed through close and personal relationships with farmers, families and communities in Honduras. More importantly, this community has become our home--cultural differences have become habits. We laugh together, eat together and live our lives together. We share in the hardships of agricultural production with our farmers, and we rejoice with them in the accomplishments, innovations and growing prosperity.
For our team, while living a dream may have its hardships, the rewards are far greater. We are ready to take our mission to the next step, but first more about us….
Up Next: An Introduction of Gilberto Hernandez