Left to right: Clara Luz with her grandchildren; Florentino and his family Marco and his wife, Clara Luz, in their home in Guatemala. Clara Luz observes the coffee rust fungus as it spreads on the leaves of their coffee trees. Florentino next to a shed used to store tools for tending to the coffee fields.

CFCA stories

For the love of coffee

June 10, 2013

Coffee is a vital part of the daily routine for many people around the world. It is not uncommon for people to credit coffee with happiness and productivity. For the grandfather of three CFCA sponsored children in Guatemala, coffee has brought the resources to overcome life's challenges. But now it is letting him down.

"Coffee is my life," said Marco.

Marco points out the coffee rust fungus destroying
his crop.

Marco is a coffee farmer in Guatemala who currently is bearing the growing burden of providing for his family while the coffee rust fungus consumes his most vital resource — his crop. Coffee rust fungus is epidemic in Guatemala and many areas of Central America.

"This is the only income for me and my family," he said. "I do not have any other income; coffee is everything for me."

Marco is not alone in this struggle. Florentino, father of two CFCA sponsored children, is also losing his crops to the fungus.

"I usually produced 20 to 25 sacks of coffee, but this year (2013) I was only able to harvest 1.5 sacks," said Florentino.

The fungus hits small farmers hardest because it is difficult for them to afford fungicides and other treatments and practices that can help mitigate the disease. Marco was only able to apply fungicides twice in 2012 and once so far this year. Florentino is unable to afford pesticides for his crops.

Florentino looks over his coffee field.

As the coffee rust fungus destroys the majority of the coffee crops in Guatemala, families like Marco's and Florentino's face the painful struggle of deciding whether to follow the path and passion they have always known or to try something new. CFCA provides a safety net to families during difficult times, and gives them a path to achieve their own dreams of overcoming poverty.

"CFCA is providing my family with the gift of sponsorship," Florentino said. "We receive encouragement, which is fundamental to overcoming difficult times."

The coffee rust fungus is easily spread through the coffee fields of Guatemala. It starts as small yellow dots on the back of the leaves and quickly spreads from plant to plant. The spores are small and dust-like, making containment near impossible.

"I take care of my coffee trees as if they were my children because they are my livelihood," said Marco. "They feed me and my family."

Keily, Marco's granddaughter, helping harvest the
coffee crop in the field.

Marco's optimism and hope keep him tending his delicate trees through hard times.

Currently, there are more than 83,000 sponsored friends living in Guatemala. Through CFCA's livelihood programs, their families have options, to learn new farming techniques or to explore other areas to meet their needs.

The beauty of CFCA's individualized approach is that families like Marco's and Florentino's can choose what benefits they need, depending on the situation and their future goals, all with the support and encouragement of their children’s sponsors.

Sponsors give children and aging friends living in poverty hope and encouragement for a better future. Through sponsorship, you can help give someone the necessary tools to achieve their dream.

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