Health clinics impact coffee-growing communities in East Timor

by Michelle Flandreau | April 25, 2016
HOME Farm to Cup Health clinics impact coffee-growing communities in East Timor

As part of the Starbucks Reserve® program, we are committed to giving back to the communities that bring us these rare, small lot coffees.

Access to quality health care used to be very limited in several remote coffee villages in Timor-Leste, also known as East Timor. It’s an island nation located northwest of Australia.

"There were no health clinics, doctors or other health care practitioners ​within several hours walk of the villages," said Starbucks director of green coffee trading Tim Scharrer.

In 2004, Cooperativa Café Timor (CCT), a coffee farmer cooperative, started providing weekly mobile clinic services in four communities in the Ermera district. But they often worked in unsuitable locations.

"[The clinics] were held in whatever structure was available. Private homes, community buildings, verandas, occasionally under a tree for some shade," said Dr. Ross Brandon, who heads up CCT’s health program.

The lack of privacy kept many people, particularly pregnant women, from visiting the mobile clinics.

Starbucks was proud to partner with CCT last year to help fund the construction of four medical clinics in these communities. The clinic buildings now offer an improved space for CCT to keep providing mobile health services.

Photo courtesy: Cooperativa Café Timor Photo courtesy: Cooperativa Café Timor

"Imagine being able to enjoy regular medical check-ups, immunizations, maternal child health, nutrition help and family planning and dental care," Scharrer said.

Last summer, Scharrer traveled to Timor-Leste for the opening ceremony of the Riamori (Haupu) mobile clinic building.

"I was honored and humbled to be received in such a welcoming, genuine way by the community," Scharrer said. "I almost felt part of the local community because of their honest and genuine joy to celebrate this milestone with me."

Photo courtesy: Tim Scharrer Photo courtesy: Tim Scharrer

Since the completion of the project in August 2015, the four clinics are helping around 13,000 co-op members and their families access quality medical care.

The clinics also improved hygiene and sanitation, along with emergency communication in the villages. Each clinic building has a rainwater collection and storage system, and toilets with septic tanks. The communities have access to solar-powered charging stations for their mobile phones, making it easier to contact CCT workers during medical emergencies.

This is truly a milestone for development of rural communities, improving the livelihood of thousands of people in coffee communities
- Tim Scharrer,
director of green coffee trading

Starbucks has been buying coffee from East Timor since 1996, and we understand the importance of health care in these coffee communities. We’re proud to offer Starbucks Reserve® East Timor Peaberry, which shows what a thriving coffee community can create.

Coffee Notes
Floral aromas, spicy grapefruit notes and a malty sweetness

This small-lot, exclusive coffee is available in select stores now, and online starting May 3, 2016.

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