hanging out at union majomut
On Monday’s post, I talked about my initial visit to Nuevo Yibeljoj in Chiapas, Mexico. Meeting the children of the town at their school was one of the highlights of my trip. But of course the other highlight was talking about coffee.! As some of you may know, I have a thing for coffee 🙂 After our initial meeting and the photograph of the peeking child, we were invited for lunch. So we followed these lovely women to our meal….
women from nuevo yibeljoj
The lunch was delicious.! It consisted of chicken, rice and potatoes. There were also very spicy (picante) peppers if you wanted to add more zest to your dish.! And of course, there was coffee.!! It was straight from the villager’s farms to our cups. I think I had three cups..! It was so flavorful.! Muy sabroso.!
lunch in nuevo yibeljoj
The village of Nuevo Yibeljoj belongs to the Union Majomut coffee cooperative. The majority of cooperative members are of Tzotzil and Tzeltal ethnic origin. The cooperative brings together more than 1000 coffee growing families. The main goal of Union Majomut is to empower indigenous communities which is why even the name is in the local language. Majomut means ‘mocking birds” in the native Tzotzil language. The cooperative was established in 1981 and is located in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas.
outside union majomuts’ warehouse
In 1994, the cooperative became fair trade certified. This certification allowed the cooperative to continue enhancing the lives of coffee farmers through several methods. Union Majomut strengthened coffee production methods and improved coffee processing by converting to organic farming to conserve soil. It eliminated the use of middlemen or coyotes. The cooperative also organized women coffee growers and promoted micro banks in rural communities.
jute bag from union majomut
Union Majomut has received support from various foundations including the MacArthur Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and Oxfam Netherlands to name just a few. The coffee cooperative also sells coffee internationally to Cafe Direct and Pangaea. It was the thrill of a lifetime for me to not only be able to visit the coffee cooperative, but to also visit one of the villages that produces the coffee. The opportunity to sit and drink coffee with the actual farmers was a very humbling and rewarding trip for me.! I will never forget it because that trip changed my life 🙂
If you are interested in learning more about Union Majomut – I have included their link –
In March of 2010, I took my last class for my master’s program. Luckily for me, that last class was also a study abroad trip to Chiapas, Mexico. While we were in Chiapas, we learned about sustainable growth, indigenous rights and the history of Mexico. We met with many groups, toured non-profit organizations and visited some villages. And of course, we ate some great food – moles, tacos, chicken, etc. And we drank some wonderful coffee as there are many coffee farms in Chiapas.!
One of the villages that most stands out for me during that trip is Nuevo Yibeljoj in Chiapas, Mexico. The town is in the highlands of Chiapas and in 2010 had a population of 595 residents. The town’s inhabitants are Tzeltal or Tzotzil speaking indigenous peoples. Many of the residents have small coffee farms in what can only be described as their backyards. The town belongs to the coffee cooperative Union Majomut. This is the reason I really enjoyed the coffee here. It was straight form the farms to the roaster to my coffee cup.! I promise in Wednesday’s post to speak more about the town, coffee and the coffee cooperative.
But today, I just want to describe the initial moments of that visit. We arrived at the town and were greeted very warmly. Eventually, our entire group was led to the building where all of the town’s ceremonies are held. There was a ritual performed before we entered and only aduts were allowed inside. The meeting was held in Tzeltal or Tzotzil (not sure), Spanish and English. However, while the meeting was very interesting, what soon caught most of our attention were the little kids from the town peeking through the wooden boards of the building.!!
I was able to capture what I believe is the best photo of this “peeking” because I was sitting the closest to the children who were outside. It was so precious.! And delightful.! As with all children, they were so curious to see who these strangers were (us – the students) and wanted to watch our every move. Later on, we went to the school and the children sang for us which was also truly amazing and inspiring. I have often wondered which of the children’s eyes I captured that day. But that will continue to remain one of life’s mysteries…..