To the people of Idjwi, this lake is a dangerous lake.
It is a lake that has taken many lives.
It is a lake that has made many wives widows and many children orphans.
But despite these deaths, this lake has been crucial for survival of the Idjwi people.
This lake has traveled many Idjwi coffee beans and coffee farmers to Rwanda. Through storms, heavy rain and rough waves farmers have traveled this lake with large sacks filled of coffee beans. The Idjwi coffee farmers have no access to the legal market for the lake has isolated them from the market. To them, smuggling coffee along this dangerous lake is their only option for profit.
That said, isolation is not always a bad thing. This lake was their protector during the war. It shielded them from bullets, massacres and sexual violence during the horrifying war that took place on the mainland. The fish in the lake has kept many of them from going to bed hungry while the water quenched their thirst.
On the other hand, when it costs $20 a month to put an Idjwi child in school and the the median salary of the child's parent is only 24 cents a day, the isolation from a legal market becomes a problem.
That’s why the coffee farmers of Idjwi have come together to organize and create a coffee co-operative. Having dreamt of a safer way to sell their coffee beans for years, they are on the path to making it a reality. Through the work of the coffee co-op, these coffee farmers will be able to sell their beans directly to Europe and the United States.
Thanks to whistleblowers around the world, we have been able to invest money in their dream, bringing an end to dangerous travels and minimal pay for hard work.
The treacherousness of this beautiful lake reminded us that everything has two sides. In the end, it’s how we see the world that determines how the world be. We have that power in our mind and we encourage you to use it.