We are at the point in our language lessons that we are increasingly using only Swahili and doing a lot of translating work. What we worked on during today’s lesson was quite exciting. We decided to do some translating around how we talk about After Trade. Just as we are able to so easily (though not always quickly) talk about After Trade in English, we want to be able to do the same in Kiswahili — to be able to communicate our hope for this work without a language barrier.

We left our lesson today so encouraged. As we began translating with our instructor today, we went off on a bit of a tangent passionately explainging After Trade. His response: 

“This is complex in English and this will be complex in Swahili. I never knew wazungu (white people) would ever think this way. Most are only business-minded, always concerned with money or coffee quality first, as you mentioned. But you are different. This is good.”

The text we translated only scratches the surface in describing this work, but it is a starting place nonetheless:


We want to work together with smallholder coffee farmers and their families. Where we come from, coffee companies only partner with coffee farmers who produce the highest quality coffee beans. These coffee companies tell their customers they have relationships with farmers to show they have an ethical business. They give the impression that they care for the farmers, but in reality they only care about the quality of the coffee beans. They would never consider smallholder farmers with poor quality coffee. This is an injustice. 

Our desire is to work together with smallholder farmers who depend on coffee as their only subsistence, but whose farmer are struggling and their coffee quality is poor. Our hope is to do this through practices of solidarity and sustainability. We want to help farmers rehabilitate their land by returning to the way coffee naturally grows, which is not by itself but in diversity, intercropped with fruits and vegetables. This will keep the soil, the coffee, and the farmers and families healthy. Not only will they profit from coffee, but they will be growing their own food and may profit from these items as well. 

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Tunataka kufanya kazi kwa kushirikiana na wakulima wadogo wadogo wa kahawa na familia zao. Tunakotoka nyumbani Amerika, makampuni ya kahawa wanashirikiana tu na wakulima wanaozalisha kahawa yenye ubora wa hali ya juu kabisa. Makampuni haya yanawaambia wateja wao kwamba wana mahusiano na wakulima ili waonekane kwamba wana uadilifu katika biashara yao. Makampuni haya yanatoa picha ya kwamba wanawajali wakulima, lakini kusema kweli wao wanachojali ni ubora wa kahawa. Hawawezi kabisa kufikiria kufanya kazi na wakulima wadogo wenye kahawa ya ubora hafifu. Hili si sawa. 

Hamu yetu ni kushirikiana ambao wanategemea kahawa kama njia pekee ya kujipatia kipato, lakini ambao mashamba yao hayaendelei vizuri na kahawa yao, ni ya ubora hafifu.Tumaini letu ni kufanya hivi kwa njia ya ushirikiano endelevu. Tunataka kuwasaidia kutibu ardhi yao, kwa kurudi kwenye njia ambayo kahawa inakua kwa asili, si kwa pekee yake bali kwa kuchanganyika na mazao mengine hii italeta. Afya kwa udongo, kahawa, na familia kwa ujumla. Si tu kwamba watapata faida toka kwenye kahawa, bali watakuwa wanapenda chakula chao na kupata faida pia.

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