In 2003, Ugandan Jewish coffee farmer J.J. Keki asked himself what he could do to stop religious violence. He decided to visit his Christian and Muslim neighbors to see if they could work together. “I brought the idea to my fellow friends, Christians and Muslims,” explains Keki in a video interview, “and I said we should make a co-op selling our coffee, as well as spreading peace in the world.”
Now the Mirembe Kawomera (which means “Delicious Peace”) interfaith peace cooperative has more than 750 members. Its partners reflect the religious communities present in the region—including Jewish, Muslim, Anglican, and Catholic—in a country known for its ongoing religious conflicts. The co-op sells directly to California-based Thanksgiving Coffee, a fair trade company that distributed 19,771 units of the Ugandan coffee in 2008 alone, according to Thanksgiving Coffee’s Holly Moskowitz. “We’re interested in the success of the farmers,” Moskowitz told Sojourners. “Our relationships with them are based on trust and understanding.” Thanksgiving Coffee, a family-run business, has pledged to buy all of Mirembe Kawomera’s coffee crop each year, despite any fluctuations in the market. Additionally, Thanksgiving and Mirembe Kawomera developed an innovative profit-sharing model that helps keep the “fair” in fair trade.