2015: Our Biggest and Toughest Year Yet

Sarah, our founder, and James, a partner farmer on a coffee farm in Nakuru. 
Sarah, our founder, and James, a partner farmer on a coffee farm in Nakuru. 

Dear Kula Friends, Family, and Supporters,

     I’ve sat down countless times trying to write this letter. I struggled in finding the best way to sum up this year, but a good friend recently encouraged me to be open about everything, not just the good stuff, so here it goes.

    Over the last twelve months, Kula has grown, and I have grown in ways I could have only imagined. That being said, it has also been the most challenging year of my life. Growing is hard. Building a team is hard. Working on another continent is hard. There were moments when the only thing I felt was weariness and uncertainty, and the ebb and flow of those emotions seem to live at a steady pace. But, I want to share a little story that reminded me of why we are doing this and why all of those difficult moments are but a small speck in the greater story of hope and dignity in Rwanda. 

    On October 24, 2015, our team was in Rwanda and planned a “Celebration Day” to honor Kula’s partnership with our largest community. As we drove up to the site, all you could see were faces and bold, bright colors. Hundreds of families had come to sing, dance, perform poems, but most of all, show love and gratitude. As we sat in the “honorable chairs” that they had set aside for my team, I wondered, “Man, why did so many people come to this?” I continued to scan the crowd and noticed that I knew each of them, their names and their children’s names.  All of these people were our people. For the first time, I was able to comprehend how many families were well on their way to creating a better life for their children because of our work. Without exaggeration, this celebration day was the best day of my adult life. I knew, without a doubt, that our work mattered and will change the course of entire communities for generations.

    When 2015 began, our team was a team of one: me. Now, we are closing out the year with four full-time team members in America and Rwanda. Our original goal for this year, a goal our board was reluctant to pursue, was to invest in 50 families. As of today, we are directly investing in the lives of 270 families. For the first time since I founded Kula three and a half years ago, we are not the ones trying to grow; Rwanda is asking us to grow, and we are responding to their request. 

    This year took our breath away in moments of sheer joy and elation, moments of hardship and seemingly insurmountable challenges, but most of all, moments of gratitude for you and all of our supporters. It’s my hope that you will always know the role you have played in the stories of hundreds of mothers and fathers who are doing everything they can to build a future for their children. For that, we say thank you. 

    We are looking to 2016 with even bigger goals that will ignite drastic change in our communities by launching a project that will impact thousands of families by creating access for them to see their coffee on the international market. Incomes will quadruple, and entire families will lift themselves out of poverty. To make this happen, we set a goal to raise $50,000 by year’s end, and we have 4 days left to do it. On behalf of our families and team, I ask that you consider Kula Project in your year-end giving by making a tax-deductible donation to help us reach our goal. I believe James, one of the farmers in our program and pictured above, said it best when we he said, “Now, we can see a new light, and I can promise you that we will continue to follow it.” 

Sarah Buchanan
Founder and Director of Kula Project

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