The Power of Coffee: A Journey to a Coffee Washing Station in Rwanda
One of the coolest places we visited in Rwanda was a Village named Cyingwa in Rusizi District, near the Rwanda- Congo border. We flew to Kamembe Airport in Rusizi District from Kigali, Rwanda’s capital. The area was mostly mountainous – which made for beautiful scenery.
We went to Cyingwa to visit a Coffee Washing Station, where coffee is grown, cleaned, dried, and then shipped all of the over the world. However, we didn’t come to Cyingwa to just learn about how coffee is made.
The Coffee Washing Station is really an exercise in reconciliation! The Coffee Washing Station was setup so that Tutsi and Hutu, genocide survivors and perpetrators could live next to each other and work towards a common cause – a better future for their children and themselves. The Coffee Washing Station encourages people to put their differences aside and focus on cultivating coffee.
Pierre Munyura, along with Eugene Nyagahene one of the premier entrepreneurs of Rwanda, founded the Coffee Washing Station so that the members of Pierre’s home village could not only earn a living, but also live and work side by side after the horrors of the 1994 genocide. In fact one of the founding principles of the Coffee Washing Station was that it must employ both Hutu and Tutsi villagers.
The Coffee Washing Station provides jobs, funding for clean water and schools, and provides hope for a village that was destroyed after the genocide. In fact, a percentage of every pound of Coffee sold is guaranteed to be used to serve a social cause. This year the focus is on clean water.
The children and parents in village were inspiring as well. They were extremely optimistic about their future and were willing to work to make it real.
Pierre was gracious enough to escort us to the Coffee Washing Station and give us a personal tour. Along the way Pierre shared with us his personal motivations for starting the Coffee Washing Station after his home village was devastated by the genocide. Even though Pierre was not living in the village at the time, Pierre felt a personal responsibility to ensure that his village came together again and survived.
The Coffee Washing Station employs over a 150 villagers during peak harvest season and produces over 50 tons of coffee a year.
Pierre and Eugene’s coffee business serve as an example of how a for profit enterprise can have a significant positive impact on a community. Their accomplishments serve as an example to social entrepreneurs everywhere.
A note from Pierre about the Coffee business:
I’ll never look at a cup of coffee the same way again!