Since august, 2011, I am a volunteer in a coffee cooperative in the south of Mexico. The cooperative „Unión de Ejidos y Comunidades Cafeticultores Beneficio Majomut“ (Unión Majomut) consists of almost 1000 indigenous families spread over 35 indigenous communities in the highlands of Chiapas (region close to the borders to Guatemala and Belize).
The organization is part of Mexico's Fair Trade System „Comercio Justo“ and has been partner of the German Fair Trade pioneer GEPA since 1995. All coffee exports are traded on a fair trade basis, 100% of which is organic.
The cooperative is in charge of sales management and assures a democratic participation in decision making processes to its members (i.e. as far as re-investments of fair trade bonuses are concerned).
I am helping the organization with marketing and communication issues (e.g. maintaining their website). Most important are measures in capacity building, e.g. English lessons or internet workshops which are meant to help the farmers gain access to important market information.
Welthaus Bielefeld e.V. sends young people (not only) to Mexico where they support development projects in different areas (health care, education, agriculture, fair trade). While the German state pays for a big part of the expenses of the voluntary service (coverage 75%), Welthaus Bielefeld is in charge of selecting, sending and accompanying the volunteers in the respective countries. The volunteers are requested to find donors to cover the last quarter of expenses, a total sum of 1.800€ (150€ per month).
You will find more information (in German) on my blog