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Seeds of Hope...

Steve Helm, Founder Share Collective, Inc. This is a sobering morning for me in Burundi. (Burundi is an East African nation the size of Maryland) Raindrops fall gently on the banana leaves while the sounds of children walking to school, motorbikes passing by, goats and rooster sounds fill the air. In simple, undefiled moments like this it is hard for me to imagine the daily undercurrent of violence against women and children that defies reason and leaves lives broken. Many have fled to neighboring Tanzania, but with no promise that displaced life would be any different, most stay in the villages of their birth and suffer unspeakable tragedies. Can coffee change anything in a world that seems so distant and chaotic? Absolutely! Agriculture,...

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Fighting for peace with "beans, not bullets"...

A sweet "normal" moment (right) of a mom and her son in war torn Burundi. For Gloria (not her real name), seen here with her son, Christophe (not his real name), there is constant fear while this single mom, whose husband lost his life recently, makes every effort to keep her family safe & fed. Markets in her village, which are prevalent throughout the third world, are often disrupted or not always safe. So consistent food is often scarce.  Burundi, slightly smaller than the state of Maryland, has suffered genocidal wars for decades. Oppression that is religiously-politically based, is the rule. Suffering and malnutrition are the norm. Shortages of even simple things we take for granted are the way of...

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Voiceless...

    Much of the world enjoys the benefits of their hard work. For generations, their families have committed themselves to its skillful production. For all their efforts, most families still live on less than $2 a day. I am referring to coffee families in the Americas, Africa, and Asia. Coffee companies artfully show their humble homes and rugged, antiquated surroundings. It warms our hearts to sip our favorite brew, see the amazing photography with the impression that we are somehow connected to helping to make a better life for these valiant, but voiceless, people. On the ground, however, little has changed for the lives of coffee families. Even as labels such as “Fair Trade” and “sustainable” infuse the marketing...

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Take the Miss out of Missions

Throughout the year, airports throughout the U.S. see scores of church groups, all dressed in the same brightly colored T-shirts, heading out for their week to change the world. I’m not sure when this practice became so popular, but most churches have at least one trip a year to somewhere outside the United States. During that week, participants will build stuff, paint, play with and love on orphans, provide some basic medical care, and the list goes on.  Is there a value to having a cross-cultural experience? Absolutely!  Does it provide lasting change? Not usually.  Most missions tactics resemble what we might see in the U.S. after a flood or hurricane, providing basic relief. A genuine game changer the days...

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