Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Final Reflections

Hi everyone!
Our group is back in Erie safe and sound after a long day of travel!
Upon reflecting on the experience and new global world perspective that Chiapas gifted us on this trip, we are in awe of how important fair-trade is and how much work goes into our daily cups of coffee.  We think it is important to share the mission and importance behind Café Justo. After our reflections this week around the work of poverty reduction and migration, our whole group now has a deeper understanding of the world around us and how to go about our daily consumption in a more ethical way.  We believe all humans deserve a fair wage and not to be taken advantage of in the supply chain.

In all, this trip has been an inspiring experience, and we know we will never forget the coffee growers of Chiapas, Mexico. We will never forget their welcoming, open arms and complete hospitality when they themselves were living in poverty.  We will never forget the roosters crowing at night or seeing the volcano in the distance every morning.  We will never forget the sweet bread and the mangos, and the constant cups of coffee with a swirl of sugar in it.  We will never forget the twisting of our hearts at the migrant shelter and knowing how much human suffering was in one place, and not being able to alleviate it in that moment.  Mostly, we will never forget how much impact the simple decision of what coffee you will drink in the morning makes on one person’s life.  Thank you, Chiapas and Café Justo, for these imprints.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Mid-Week Update

Day #3

Our third day in Salvador Urbana began with learning about the process of patio drying with a local family. We not only learned about this process but also engaged in conversation about young people in society and their relationship with faith and seeing the true Christian message being portrayed with people fighting for economic justice.

Following the patio drying we had lunch with the family and then headed to the cabana to swim and relax for the afternoon.

Later, we met with the president of the Cafe Justo Coop and his family. Through that conversation we learned more about the infrastructure of the co-op and observed how the economy provided by Cafe Justo has allowed members more opportunities such as education.

Day 4:
Today we began by visiting a migrant shelter near the boarder of Mexico and Guatemala. We saw many people and families there looking for a safe place to stay until they could find safety either in Mexico or the United States. While this was very important for us all to witness it was difficult to see the situation so many people are in. In addition, it made a connection as to why fighting for economic justice is so important. With economic justice people would not have to flee their homes and we wouldn’t be seeing this problem.

We got to go to a local restaurant for dinner where we had virgin pina coladas in pineapples! We visited Mayan Ruins and learned a little bit about their history. To finish off the day, we went to a local coffee museum where we relaxed and had some deep reflection, focusing on migration issues and the root cause of the increasing migration rate, poverty and economic injustice.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Chiapas Update: Day 1 and 2

 Hello there followers! These past two days have been a delightful introduction to our ABST experience! Within this time we have met a series of growers in the Salvador Urbina community and have learned about the beginning stages of coffee farming! Some highlights have been visiting with farmers named David and Samuel, who taught our group about their lifelong craft of coffee farming, and the change that Cafe Justo has brought to the community.

In this time we have been able to learn about the harrowing economic difficulties that many face in communities across Mexico and the world. Just a decade ago, Salvador Urbina and the surrounding areas were mainly comprised of women, the elderly, and children. So many families couldn’t sustain themselves, and to try to keep afloat, so many men came to the United States to earn a sustainable wage. During this time, they worked tirelessly, paying taxes and social security that they would in many ways never tap into. But every cent they could, they would send home to support their family, including children that they had never met.

This struggle and sacrifice has been elevated by programs like Cafe Justo’s coffee co-op, providing a path for families to sustain themselves and earn equitable wages in their community. It has been transformational to see economic justice lived out, literally connecting families in the homes we are visiting.

Now, we are preparing to learn even more about the coffee growing process, and continue to connect it to migrant issues and the communities we are immersed within this week. Be sure to stay connected by reading our Facebook posts and blog as the week progresses!

Friday, February 28, 2020

Travel to Chiapas!

Hi everyone!

We are so excited to announce that the Haiti ABST is leaving from the Cleveland Airport tonight!
Unfortunately, due to the conflicts in Haiti, our group is again not able to travel there this year, but we will be traveling to Chiapas, Mexico to visit Cafe Justo. 

Cafe Justo is also a fair-trade coffee farm similar to Just Haiti! Cafe Justo was the business that inspired the Just Haiti coffee company and has parallel business and ideology practices. Our group is excited to see this unique perspective on Just Haiti and learn about fair trade economics and poverty alleviation. We are also fortunate enough to have Kim Lamberty, the founder of Just Haiti, traveling with us, providing her wisdom, experience, and perspective to the trip!

The leaders this year are Melissa Bronder, a junior psychology major who has traveled to Haiti her freshman year and led the Haitimala experience her sophomore year.  Our other leader is Ryan Hamilton, a senior who has previously traveled to Guatemala, participated in the L'Arche, Mexico experience and led the Detroit ABST.

The accompaniers this year are Sarah Ewing, the Dean of the College of Health Professions and Science and Brian McIntyre, who works in the Center for Teaching Excellence and is an adjunct business professor.  Our participants are Jill Sullivan, a freshman PA major and Avery Hill, a sophomore OT major.

We are all incredibly excited to embark on this journey and take you along with us! Stay tuned for updates :).
- Melissa

Monday, March 4, 2019

Haiti-Mala Day One: The Early Bird Catches the Worm

Hello from beautiful Guatemala! As some of you may know, we had to transition from going to Haiti to now being in Guatemala (hence the name of our group). On our first day, we awoke early at 4 AM to leave Guatemala City and take a van ride to San Lucas. There, we met the two other Gannon groups and got ready for a boat ride around Lake Atitlan. We were able to explore local villages and see the culture and vibrant cultures. In the evening, we attended a very moving mass led by Father Kesicki. Pray for us and enjoy our video!!

Monday, February 25, 2019

Haiti Trip changes

Hello everyone!

The United States Department of State issued an emergency notification raising the travel advisory for Haiti from Level 3 (Reconsider travel) to Level 4 (Do Not Travel).  As a result of this, travel to Haiti is no longer possible for our group. 

The Haiti ABST has not been cancelled, however, and our group is taking on the welcome challenge of honoring the Haitian community by continuing to learn about and deepen the relationship with Just Haiti while at the San Lucas mission in Guatemala. 

We invite you to continue to engage with our blog and support us through this experience as we take on all the twists and turns of our journey!

With love,


Thursday, January 31, 2019

Introduction of the Haiti trip 2019!

Hello everyone! We are extremely excited to start our journey to Haiti in 2019! We will be traveling from March 2nd to March 10th and can't wait to share in this journey with you. 

We are currently preparing for the trip with the group by learning more about how Haiti started, the Haitian Revolution, and the relationship between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. We will also explore the Just Haiti coffee corporation and learn more about where we will be spending our week! 

The leaders this year are Melissa Bronder and Rachel Nye, who are both so excited to share in this growth experience with their group members and learn alongside them about poverty, fair-trade economics, and integral human development. 

Melissa is a Sophomore Psychology major who has previously traveled to Haiti on the ABST trip last year and Rachel is a fourth-year PA student who has led the trips to Ruskin, Florida and Detroit,  MI and attended the ABST to Washington, DC!

We encourage you to stay in touch with the blog as we continue to update you on our journey!

With love,

Rachel and Melissa