Interview with Doctor Kim Lamberty

I am very bless to have an interview with Kim Lamberty for the listeners of Radio solidarité and the readers of the weekly bulletin of the National Center of The Haitian Apostolate. She is currently Senior Program Advisor at Catholic Relief Services Haiti Partnership Unit, based in Baltimore. She is also a founder and principal officer of Just Haiti, a fair trade coffee program that works with rural, coffee-producing communities in Haiti to improve and quality and quantity of the crop and market the coffee in the United States
She worked in parish ministry for nearly eight years, responsible for developing and managing parish-based justice and service ministries, including the sister parish project in Baraderes, Haiti. Kim holds a Master’s in International Affairs from Columbia University and a Doctor of Ministry degree, in cross-cultural ministry, from Catholic Theological Union, where she has also taught a course on social and economic justice ministry.

Good Morning Doctor Kim Lamberty
Good Morning Brother Tob.

Could you tell us a little bit of the influences to led you to seek a Doctor of Ministry degree and a Master’s in International Affairs?
Of all the many fields of specialization you could have chosen to enter, why did you specialize in ministry?
Thank you Brother Tob for the opportunity to communicate with your audience. We live in a globalized, boundary-crossing world, and yet at the same time we are all connected because we all belong to the same Creator. Our connectedness, our oneness in God despite national and ethnic boundaries, is where I want to focus my work. This is the realm of ministry.

Please tell us about one of the biggest moments of your professional career?
There have been many great moments, but I think the biggest moment for me getting that first shipment of coffee from Haiti to the united States, after working so hard with the coffee growers in Baraderes.
Please explain to us about your role as the founder and a principal officer of JUST HAITI .

I started working in Haiti in 1997 as director of a sister parish project between St. John the Baptist parish in Silver Spring, MD and St Pierre parish in Baraderes, Haiti. Through that project we helped many children in the Baraderes region to go to school. We also helped to construct a secondary school, started some nutrition programs, and sent medical missions. After nearly 8 years of doing this work, I moved on to a different job, but I did not forget the people of Haiti, and especially Baraderes. Together with their former pastor, Pere Pascal Pierre, and some parishioners from St John the Baptist, we wanted a way that the people of Baraderes could become more independent and support their own families, and so that is how we thought of the coffee project. Baraderes is traditionally coffee-producing, but the growers were not getting a good price for their coffee. Low prices are one of the causes of poverty for coffee growers. We formed Just Haiti so that we could market their coffee in the United States and get them a higher price.
What can you tell us about Café Espwa?

Café Espwa is the coffee that Just Haiti markets in the United States. You can find more information about it on our website, www.justhaiti.org. It is really excellent coffee, produced by growers in Baraderes, and also Carcasse. We are now expanding and will be importing coffee from other communities in Haiti soon.
What do you think could be done to allow farm families to break the stranglehold of poverty and violence that have choked the just development of rural Haiti for hundreds of years.?

Rural Haiti is a subsistence agricultural economy. There are many problems, such as: plots of land are too small, so that they cannot produce very much, natural disasters ruin their crops, prices are too low, and the soil is depleted due to erosion from deforestation. Just Haiti has addressed several of these problems through its coffee program. Coffee is actually a very valuable commodity on the international market, and sellers in the United States make high profits. You know that the large companies, such as Starbucks and others, are getting rich. But we also know that the small growers are not getting any of that profit. With Just Haiti, we pay a minimum of $ 1.55 per pound up front for green coffee, and we pay the market price if it is higher than $ 1.55. This way growers always have a guaranteed minimum price they will receive, and this helps to eliminate uncertainty. In addition, after we sell the coffee, we subtract all expenses, such as transportation, packaging, roasting, etc., and then we return all the extra profit back to the growers. This way, it is not a big company in the United States that is getting rich. Instead, small coffee growers are receiving the full value of their product. In addition, because coffee is shade-grown, when the farmers receive a fair price for the coffee, they do not cut down their trees.
For people who want to support Just Haiti how they can do it?
They can buy the coffee at www.justhaiti.org. They can tell their friends and co-workers to buy the coffee, and they can sell the coffee in their churches and advertise it in other organizations that they belong to. If they want to help us to expand to other communities, they can make a tax-deductible donation. Information about that is also on our website.
What do you think could be done to break the cycle of poverty in Haiti.?
I believe that the only way to break the cycle of poverty is for Haiti to reduce and eventually eliminate its dependence on outside aid and to regain power over their own future development. Rural poverty will end when people like you and me are willing to invest in small farmers so that they have the means to expand, to improve their crops, and to sell them for a fair price.

Tell us of about your experience as a peace maker in Palestine.
I worked in a rural Palestinian community in the South Hebron Hills that was at risk of violence from Israeli settlers nearby. Through the presence of our team of international peacemakers, we tried to reduce the threat of violence against this unarmed, peaceful community. The organization I worked with is called Christian Peacemaker Teams, and you can find information about their work at www.cpt.org.
Tell us about the program and goals of The Conference of Solidarité schedule for june 1st to june 3rd at the Catholic University of America and how participation in the Conference can be helpful to the Haitian Community.
We have many goals. One is to provide the leadership of the Haitian Church an opportunity to address members of the US Church who care deeply about Haiti, to tell us about their vision for the future of Haiti and how we in the United States can accompany them in their vision. Another goal is to provide some technical assistance to US-Haiti church-to-church partnerships so that they develop projects that respect the leadership of the Haitian community and of the local church. We are also encouraging sustainable development projects that lead to increased income for Haitians so that they can take care of their own families.
Do you have a message for the Haitian Community?
Only this: let us all work together as One Human Family, united in our faith, to bring about a bright future for Haiti. Only by working together will we achieve our goals.
Thank you Doctor Kim Lamberty for agreeing to answer my questions , I really appreciate your generosity in sharing so much of your time with us.

Brother Tob
For The National Center

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