Coffee with a Cause: Kaape

Kaape Coffee is the finest coffee available in Guatemala, fair-traded, FDA approved and simply delicious. The majority of the proceeds from Kaape’s sales go to support Partner for Surgery which provides free medical care to the impoverished rural areas of Guatemala. Additionally, part of the proceeds support schooling for the farm workers in Guatemala. Lori Foster, a ’74 alumna of Thunderbird, founded Kaape to help Partner for Surgery continue their work.

Written by Lori Foster '74

There are so many stories to share with you. This is just the first of many. Please know that the photos are of real people, taken within the last 30-120 days. They are photos of rural Guatemalans who will be undergoing surgery in the next few weeks. This surgery, performed by doctors and nurses who volunteer their time to make this happen, will literally change the lives of each patient. We will try to show you how this otherwise unaffordable medical attention, so needed and appreciated by these beautiful people, impacts their lives and the lives of their families.

The surgery is organized by a non-profit group based in Washington DC called Partner for Surgery. We want to support their wonderful efforts through the sale of our Kaape coffee. So, join us in a cup of exquisite Guatemalan coffee, know that all the proceeds go to their efforts in Guatemala and pass these stories on to your friends.

This little guy is Fredy. He is the reason we are so passionate about helping Partner for Surgery. We, a small group of Thunderbird alums from the DC area, accompanied the Partner for Surgery Health Promoters who visited with him a few months ago in one of the remotest regions of Guatemala. Getting to his home was a four hour adventure: the roads are not paved. The lush countryside is beautiful, and once we arrived at Fredy's house, we still had to walk across a meadow and then down many stairs made from mud. Once inside the two room shack, filled with smoke, we met Fredy and Fredy's grandfather and various sisters, brothers and cousins.

Fredy was born with a cleft lip and palate. He had just received the first of two operations from Partner for Surgery. The second one is scheduled for this January. The deformity that Fredy had before his first surgery was severe. At this stage, he looks pretty normal and his grandfather wanted to make sure we understood how thankful he was to receive the free surgery. What we found out was that without the surgery, Fredy would have been confined for life to his home, never going to school or joining society.

Here's a photo of Fredy right after his first surgery early this year and another of Fredy in the arms of T-Bird, Ed Haase, taken this August. You can already see a remarkable improvement. We'll post another photo of Fredy after his final surgery in January.

With this surgery, Fredy and his grandfather can now look forward to a normal, happy life. The grandfather was so grateful to Partner for Surgery that he prepared a wonderful, traditional Mayan meal for us called "Kak-IK". It was such an emotional moment. We decided then and there that we would make every effort to support Partner for Surgery to continue their work.

Here's Ed Haase holding Fredy on our visit to his home in Guatemala this past August. At this point, Fredy still needs one last surgery, scheduled for this January, but he's looking really good already. It is amazing to reflect on the incredible volunteer effort behind Fredy's new life: from the Partner for Surgery Nutrition Program that helped Fredy gain enough weight to undergo surgery, to the first surgery earlier this year and the last one coming up this January. Think of the enormous, almost entirely volunteer effort by doctors, nurses, health promoters in both the US and Guatemala that makes this all happen. Amazing! Beautiful!

Here's the group of T-Birds at an event prior to our going to Guatemala, meeting with the Guatemalan Ambassador and the Founder of Partner for Surgery. The more we learned about the efforts in Guatemala, the more we wanted to help. Figuring out how we could use our T-Bird talents, our collective worldwide experiences and our marketing expertise to support Partner for Surgery in a meaningful way was on our minds at this point.

From left to right, this is Francisco Villagran de Leon, the Guatemalan Ambassador, Lori Foster, T-Bird '74, Isabelle Strauss, T-Bird '11, Frank Peterson, Co-Founder of Partner for Surgery, Hans Alarcon, Isabelle's husband from Peru, Ken Foster, T-Bird '74 and Ed Haase, T-Bird '02.

After seeing how incredibly difficult it was to get around the rural parts of Guatemala and seeing how already taxed their resources were, we came to the realization that our support was extremely necessary but we needed to operate independently from them: we wanted to help but not in any way that might be disruptive. That's when the possibility of importing Guatemalan coffee started taking shape. The coffee is exquisite. Let's bring it to the US market, sell it direct to coffee lovers, give the proceeds to Partner for Surgery and additionally, help them build a larger donor base. So, here we are today. Kaape, which means coffee in the Mayan language, was officially launched by T-Birds in DC at a T-Bird/Partner for Surgery fundraiser on October 26, called Mayan Night. We served traditional Mayan food, including the dish we were served by Fredy's grandfather in Guatemala, "Kak-IK", all made by Guatemalans living in the DC area. The cake was the best, pastel de tres leches, pictured below. Not only was it delicious, but the Guatemalan bakery, La Chapina, in nearby Maryland, was so moved by what Partner for Surgery does in Guatemala, that they insisted on donating this cake!!!!!

We hope you will join us in a life-saving cup of coffee and share this story with your friends.