Above: A reel of photos and video from the Loyalty Foundation/Don Cafe trip to Cartagena, Colombia.
On Thursday, July 28, 2022, Loyalty Foundation founder David Neeman and Carlos Guzman, Co-Founder of our storefront partner, Colombian coffee shop Don Café, flew to Cartagena, Colombia for our first distribution of refurbished Chromebooks to students in need there.
This special trip was a direct result of our partnership with Don Cafe, which since 2013, has been a supporter of two non-profit youth organizations back in Colombia: Fundacion Esperanza de Vida and Fundacion Hit.
We started with just 6 computers transported in David and Carlos’s carry-on bags, but we plan to lay the groundwork for bringing in many more over time.
Above: David and Carlos on the way to Cartagena, Colombia.
On Tuesday, August 2, David and Carlos headed to the mountains near Pereira, to visit the small caficultores–socially responsible and ecologically sustainable coffee growers–from which Don Café coffee beans are sourced. They also checked out the coffee fields of El Cairo in the state of Valle Del Cauca, a protected World Heritage Agricultural Landscape, where Don Cafe is looking to harvest its own crop in the future, due to the climate, nutrient rich volcanic soil, natural springs and irrigation.
Above: The coffee fields from which Don Café beans are sourced, a coffee tasting, Don Café coffee growers, Carlos and David.
On Friday, David and Carlos returned to Cartagena where, on Saturday, they distributed the six computers to students.
First stop was Fundacion Esperanza de Vida @fundevida, a nonprofit organization in the Zaragocilla area of Cartagena that provides care, social assistance, and lodging to children with cancer and hematological illnesses, as well as their family members. The majority of the children live at the facility because they either live too far away, or in conditions not unsuitable for treating cancer. Because of this, many of them have had to leave school, so need computers to continue their education remotely. On this trip, with the support of Don Café, we brought two computers, but we plan to return to the facility so each child will can have their very own.
Above: Fundacion Esperanza de Vida. Founder Nacira Isabel Villadiego is an extraordinary woman who can be seen in the third photo.
Second stop was Fundacion Hit @hit.foundation, a nonprofit organization in La Maria, one of the most violent and poorest neighborhoods in Cartagena. Director Deimer Puerta and his Executive Director, Luis Francisco Ortiz Rivero provide a safe community, baseball and educational programs and community outreach to the kids in La Maria. Here, we donated two computers and plan to return with additional computers and educational content.
Above: The Chromebook distribution at Fundacion Hit. First photo is of Founder Deimer Puerta.
The remaining two Chromebooks were given to other students in need. David and Carlos returned to New York on August 8.
"Colombia is a beautiful country, with incredibly strong and resilient people, said David on his return from Colombia. “It is heartbreaking to see children fighting cancer or children in vulnerable communities without support or access to basic necessities, without chances or opportunities to better their circumstances. Although they were beyond grateful for what we brought, it is not nearly enough and we cannot wait to return with so much more. It was a good start but we still have very far to go."
Above: David with a young patient at Fundacion Esperanza de Vida.
Carlos had this to say about the trip to revisit the two organizations he knows so well:
"The truth is that no matter how many times I have been to Fundevida, the emotional rollercoaster is indescribable. One moment I can be super excited to see the kids and all the good that is being done for them there, the next my eyes would tear when I grasp what these strong kids must endure day in and day out. The next minute I’m joyfully hopeful to know that some of them will be cancer free in the future and at the same time have the resources, food, shelter, love, caring, computers, etc. that will help them succeed while they are receiving treatment.
Visiting Hit Foundation, is like getting a shot of adrenaline that just makes one want to help 10, no 100, no 1,000 no… millions of kids all at once! kids have their whole lives ahead of them, and many of them do not have the tools nor support to help them succeed; and seeing the kids attend English classes on Saturdays, hungry to learn, while sometimes hungry as well, makes anyone want to give these kids the best opportunity they can get so that they can succeed in the future and help shape more equality and end poverty and misery which should not exist!
Hit Foundation also has an amazing sports program that has helped shape the lives of many kids, teaching them to be team members and work as a team to become positive entities in society and stay away from detractors and bad habits which are ubiquitous in the impoverished areas."
Above: Carlos on arrival at the Cartagena airport.
To date, The Loyalty Foundation has provided free Chromebooks to students in underserved communities through 17 organizations in 11 states. Our trip to Cartagena is just the first of what we hope will be many donations to international organizations.
Your donations of used personal or office tech supports our work and the expansion of our outreach. Please visit our “Donate Tech” page at www.loyaltyfoundation.org for more info.
And if you’re in the neighborhood, please stop by our storefront at 469 W. 57th St. 1B, near 10th Avenue to arrange a donation, enjoy a Don Café latte and pan de bono, and collect a whopping double-dose of good karma knowing that by doing so you are supporting good works and empowering kids on two continents. •
Don Café IG @doncafenewyork
Fundacion Esperanza de Vida