Sara Juárez drinks her coffee three times a day. And by her coffee, we do indeed mean just that; Sara bought a field at 22 years old, and has been harvesting, processing, and selling her own coffee for the past four decades.
In La Unión, and in most parts of the developing world, men are the primary landowners and business owners. Few women own their own property, and those that do often inherited it from a deceased father or husband. Usually, women are expected to make meals, take care of the children, and manage the household. There simply isn’t time for most women, with these expectations, to own a farm. But Sara is not your typical Honduran.
When Sara was young, her parents raised pigs and sold used cars to make ends meet. They were only able to send her to school through 6th grade; after that her family needed Sara to quit school so she could earn money for the family. Sara dutifully began working in coffee fields for her neighbors, and as she worked she watched and learned the more experienced fieldworkers.
At 18, Sara married Luis Juárez and they moved into a small house on the main road in La Unión. He never had the chance to go to school. When Luis decided to buy a small coffee farm, a finca, Sara knew she could do it too. Sara bought 4 manzanas (about 7 acres) of land and began to plant coffee. With this farm, she dreamed of financial stability and enough earnings to send all her children to school.
While sitting on the couch and drinking Sara’s chocolate brownie coffee with hints of cherry, from gold and white teacups, three grandchildren ran in the door in their school uniforms, giving their grandma a quick hug before running out to the backyard to play. Sara laughed; “they come over here every day after school to play,” she said with a smile. Sara still lives in the same house she moved into decades ago, but now it’s not just her and her husband: Sara has six children and eight grandchildren. The house is the same, but her field has grown and improved. With the income from her finca, all six of Sara’s children were able to attend school. Five finished high school, and three went on to graduate from college - all because of a brave woman who decided to buy a coffee field.
Her field of 12.5 manzanas (21.6 acres) produces Catuaí and Pacamara coffee. Although Sara used to work the fields herself, now her children and hired help do most of the day labor. She goes out to the field at important times, like planting and harvesting, to oversee the work. After harvest, Sara processes and dries the coffee behind her house. From there, she sells a portion to Aldea Development. This field sustained and substantiated her academic dreams for her children. Now with higher buying prices from Aldea, Sara earns more from her harvest, providing resources to fulfill Sara’s and future generations’ dreams for years to come.