Twenty-six years after being founded as a response to Cyclone David 's damage to the Dominican Republic's coffee producing regions, Cooperative FEDECARES  (Federación de Caficultures de la Región Sur) now invests the majority of its Fair Trade premiums for community development in education .
As the first Fair Trade cooperative in the Dominican Republic (1989), FEDECARES helped farmers and their families survive by guaranteeing them enough money to put food on the table at a time when world coffee prices were severely depressed. Today, the cooperative has grown to represent 7,600 families.
Cooperative leader and coffee farmer Maria Balbuena explains that "By investing our Fair Trade premiums in education and studying abroad the cooperative benefits tremendously--especially women and children." The majority of the students are girls and women who later return to the cooperative to render services upon graduation. Notable graduates include a doctor, engineer, accountant and a nutritionist.
For Balbuena, who believes that illiteracy is a negation of a universal right-alongside food and shelter-investment of Fair Trade premiums in education at FEDECARES  is breaking the barrier of illiteracy as students return home to teach their parents and other comminuty memebers how to read.
“On behalf of all of the FEDECARES producers, THANK YOU!” – Maria Balbuena.