Change can be a blessing or a curse: it depends on how you see it that makes the difference - by Rebeca Valle Anfossi
Unity is strength: when there is understanding and collaboration, great things can be achieved - by Raquel Santos Soares Menezes
The biggest changes in recent years have been related to technology and internet. Social networks connect us and make it possible to share an incredible amount of information about almost everything. We can be stronger if we think together in a more egalitarian and sustainable future to coffee in the world. Together we can build relevant and useful knowledge to promote the empowerment of women along the coffee chain. We can interact, create and tell our history together. This power will be even greater if each one stops “playing alone”.
Change is a factor that has been instrumental in my life and it has left lasting impressions in many decisive moments. It has allowed me to enjoy happy and bitter situations, and each has shaped the woman I am today.
We cannot change what we are not conscious of, but once we are awake, we cannot help but change – by Rose Karimi
WHERE ARE THE WOMEN?
If we think of humans as energy, we understand that we are part of the infinite transformations that exist. Physical changes are evident with the passage of time and the inner changes, although they are harder to identify, they are real and aren't related with time, they depend only on us.
However, I agree and recognize that there are small changes we all can do every day, making a big difference in us and in humanity.
The changes we make may have consequences at the time, such as a pregnancy or a bomb. Or it may have future consequences like studying a profession, conducting research or even the infamous global warming.
Changes may be a conscious decision such as saying "I do" or could be an adaptation like a chameleon's skin… as Mercedes Sosa says in her song: todo cambia.
Analyzing my changes, I recognize that in 26 years, changes are evident, even though I look younger, I measure and weigh more than when I was born! These changes are predestined, but the changes that make who I am today are what really matter. I know I have not been the stereotype daughter, student, or professional female model, but the model according to whom?
I have been the best person I can be and I am focused on always being better. I grew by my own experiences as well as the experiences of society that I have adopted for myself. I will not deny that along the way I made mistakes and some I prefer to forget, but every one of those mistakes and goals make me unique and help me to be prepared for what comes later.
I have studied and constantly broken those limitations that keep me from moving forward; they might have been easy or difficult, but clearly inevitable when I have a goal to reach. Upon arrival, I have to confess that I always doubt whether it is the process or the achievement that is more enjoyable, since most of my learning comes from the process.
As is the yin-yang in this case, the opposite of change is immobility and it is true that at times we must stop, but it should not be forever. It should be like a pause to design and choose the best option, try to always be and do better than ever. Inaction? Not an option! I don't accept it as a standard for any society. We are part of the evolution of life; and well…nothing is more dynamic than life itself.
What change can one person bring? Correction: What change can one woman bring? Hamsini is one such woman who can and did bring change and made a difference, a difference that few stalwarts in the coffee world would be able to emulate.
Married into a coffee planter’s family, Hamsini had a background in financial management. She had earlier worked in a stock-broking firm, managing investments and building portfolios; planning for the long term.
She put this talent to good use when she became a homemaker, living on the plantation for 4 years. As early as 1998, while the menfolk would be busy with planting, harvesting and selling the coffee to coffee brokers, she put her data management skills to use in an unusual direction. She started collecting data on the various fields, mapping their yield, analysing their short-term as well as long-term performance, and predicting where the best yield was likely to be. However, despite her efforts and predictions, all the coffee from the various plantations was still being sold to brokers and traders.
Hamsini’s dream was to bring their carefully nurtured coffee out of the oblivion and anonymity of bulk-traded coffee and give it an identity of its own. A few years ago, with encouragement from Mrs Sunalini Menon, she stepped into uncharted territory. No one in the extended family had ventured beyond established trading relationships. Hamsini travelled to Australia and built a partnership with “Five Senses”. After the visit, she was even more determined and convinced that she would succeed in marketing and branding the coffee. Once again, she relied on her computer and data management skills, but this time she extended the analysis to taste profiles. It also meant doing things differently on the ground, and processing various blocks differently.
The possibility that Hamsini saw resulted in the emergence of four different brands of coffee. Today, their coffee is sold in Australia, Korea and Germany under the brand names Veer Attikan, Mountain Trishul, Mountain Ganga and Mountain Vana. Today, Indian coffees have gained recognition in the world market, but this has happened only because women like Hamsini have been bold enough to make a change. A big step for her as an individual and a shift in mindset for her family resulted in recognition and pride on a world platform.
Today, she has buyers knocking on her door, booking the coffee months in advance. Some return with less than they had hoped for. With the additional revenue, Hamsini can plan to set up a roasting and blending unit. But it is education for the girl children on the farms that tugs at her heart. She sees their happy little faces, content with living in isolation, happy to let their brothers go to school while they stay at home and do the housework, the way it has always been. This has to change, thinks Hamsini. And knowing Hamsini, I am sure it will!
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