Created by farmers Gabriel and Flavia Oliveira, and supported by the Minas Hill Foundation, the Intermunicipal Games for the Environment (GIMA) has been operating for the past 13 years at the Bom Jesus farm.
GIMA educates and assists approximately 1000 children per year. Pre-COVID-19, the program saw fifth grade children from the schools surrounding the Bom Jesus farm prepare presentations focused on the environment and compete in games designed to raise awareness about social responsibility.
“At the end of the three days of activities, the children return home with a solid notion of social responsibility and the capacity to make decisions that positively influence their futures,” says Marcelo Brussi, Founder and CEO of Minas Hill Foundation.
“As part of the prize for these children, our roasters in Australia make generous donations of money that are converted into bicycles, which in turn are used to commute from their homes to school. These children are from vulnerable families, which need this kind of support in addition to their own paid work.”
Marcelo says that the Australian roasters who support GIMA were eager to experience the project in person at GIMA 2020, however, due to the pandemic were unable to travel to Brazil.
Instead of donating bicycles to participating children, Minas Hill had to come up with another plan to help these children continue their education.
“It’s hard to understand the reality of those children. Schools had to stop because of the pandemic, and there’s still no in-person classes. Most of these children live in rural areas without access to their own computer, so there was no way to continue their studies,” Marcelo says.
“Some teachers would just drive or ride their bike the whole day delivering papers to students who otherwise couldn’t access school materials. We came up with the idea of donating smartphones so they could get in touch with their teacher, communicate with each other, and actually follow along lessons.”
The Minas Hill Foundation chose large-screen smartphones over more expensive, larger tablets to get them in the hands of as many students as possible.
Marcelo says it was a big undertaking from finding the right phones and supplier to signing the contracts, organising the logistics and liabilities, and choosing which children received the phones.
“But that the project was worth it, seeing how the supplied mobile phones were able to connect the schools remotely and make such a huge difference,” says Marcelo. “Thanks to dozens of supporters and the goodwill of our coffee companies who entered the scene, the Minas Hill Foundation donated approximately 230 mobile phones with six months of internet connection.
“The reaction of the schools that received them was touching and heart-warming. We managed to circumvent the non-donation of bicycles, which are extremely useful for these children to be able to go to their schools, for something that was even more useful and necessary [in the current climate].”
Marcelo says the next challenge is continuing the momentum in GIMA 2021 and once again is calling on these roasters to support the social-environmental project.
“We need to mobilise roasters again so that the project does not die. I am optimistic because there are companies that are strongly identified with and believe in this project,” Marcelo says.
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