Interfaith work through a coffee cooperative
Many say that the best way to get people to come together is to give them a common enemy. For instance, in alien films, the entire human population often rises up as one to deter the threat to our shared planet, despite our many human differences. In reality, however, finding a common enemy as a way to bind two seemingly opposing groups can often lead to further destruction of a third. But what if that shared enemy was poverty?
In 2003, a Ugandan coffee farmer named JJ Keki recognised the perils that his community was facing. The area in which he lived housed three smaller communities – one was Christian, one was Muslim, and one was Jewish. They had struggled for generations because of old differences, but suddenly they needed each other in order to combat the low coffee prices offered by the local market.
JJ went door-to-door building relationships and bringing people together. Because of these efforts, man or woman, young or old, Christian, Muslim, or Jewish – these farmers came together to face the common enemy of poverty. Through interfaith collaboration, they have been able to bring about peace and understanding to their community, as well as receive prices four times higher than what they were previously paid. This work has enabled farmers to send their children to school, start savings accounts, and reinvest in their farms.
Seeing that there were problems greater than those separating people, the Mirembe Kawomera (“Delicious Peace”) coffee cooperative demonstrated just how much coming together across faiths can be an amazing force4good in the local and global community.