I often get the question about the illustration on my bags. I always say that they carry a story about the coffee. In one way or another, they tell a story about the people, farm, farmer, mill, region or country that the coffee comes from. Here is the story about Ninga Hill, a coffee from Burundi.
I have roasted Ninga Hill for the most part of this year. Right now, Ninga Hill is one of the last coffees I have in stock that I don’t source myself, directly from origin. But I loved the coffee and the Long Mile project behind it to much, so I decided to buy it anyway through the importer they work with. Now, when I am down to the last bag I finally find the time to write about the bridge on the bag. As this is not my story, I let Ben and Kristy from Long Miles tell it:
”The Rugoma bridge connects Rugoma hill with Gaharo, which is where the Bukeye washing station is located. Subsequently, it connects the Rugoma community/people with the hills/communities/people located on Ninga and Munyinya hills, located behind Gaharo hill. In Burundi, hills are communities.
The Rugoma bridge is crucial as an access point for both education and commerce. The children from Rugoma use the bridge to get to school and goods are transported via foot or motorbike across the bridge. It’s also the bridge farmers use to deliver coffee cherries to Long Miles’ Bukeye washing station.
Due to heavy rains, the Rugoma bridge washed out at the end of 2014, after the coffee season had ended. During all of 2015, there was no bridge and the communities of Rugoma, Ninga & Munyinya finally asked Long Miles to help them, since the local government hadn’t replaced the fallen bridge. At first the Long Miles team didn’t know whether to get involved because of potential safety concerns, etc. But it was located right behind their Bukeye station and the two temporary logs that had been laid down for kids to get to school were hit by heavy rain in 2015, leaving only one log left. Children were falling in or weren’t going to school at all, while motorbikes couldn’t get across to transport goods and people.
During the same rainy period in 2015 that took out the temporary logs lain for the fallen Rugoma Bridge, the Musumba Bridge was washed out. This bridge was even bigger and more important, being that trucks used to cross it.
The local government couldn’t afford to repair/replace the bridge, as with the Rugoma bridge, so all the communities struggled. Then in 2016, one of the Long Miles Coffee Scouts, Fabrice, resigned from being a scout due to becoming elected as the Musumba commune chief. Once he became chief, Fabrice came to Long Miles about the Musumba bridge issue.
Long Miles, Fabrice and the Musumba Hill commune came together to figure out how to solve the bridge problem. They ended up agreeing that if Long Miles provided the materials to construct the bridge (cement, trees/planks, nails) and the commune provided the labour and engineer, there were enough resources to get the bridge replaced. The Long Miles team then went back to the Rugoma, Ninga & Munyinya communities and suggested the same deal and all communities agreed.
In 2015, Kristy’s grandmother passed away and the family had decided to give a monetary gift to Long Miles and said they wanted the proceeds to go toward something memorable. This gift was given at the time the bridge projects were being negotiated, so the bridge money was given to these communities, in Patty Thorton’s name, to re-construct both the foot/motorcycle bridge that connects Rugoma with Gaharo, Ninga & Munyina, and the truck bridge for Musumba.”
If you get tempted to try this coffee you better hurry, I might just roast the last batch this week.