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Seeds of Empowerment
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Coffee Awakens a National Economy

Even while facing their own struggles with poverty and work, a group of female coffee pickers from La Carpio, Costa Rica decide to put on a play. It aims to teach fellow workers about the dangers of cancer - something that effects women in their industry at a much higher rate than average.

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This short film is based on a documentary feature called "The Coffee Dance."

Originally featured in the ViewChange Online Film Contest.

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Segment 1

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Seeds of Empowerment
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Worldwide, 500 billion cups of coffee are consumed every year.
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Those that bring the golden bean to our tables are at high risk of getting breast cancer, cervical cancer, and other forms of disease. Most live in dire poverty.
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A group of women decided to do something about it.
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Together with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation, a group of women from La Carpio, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Costa Rica, used theater to change their lives and the lives of others.
GAIL NYSTROM [Executive Director, Founder, Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation]
When I started working 30 years ago in this work, development work, and my gut was telling me, "Get people fed. Get people clothed. Get shoes for people. Get houses for people," because I was with the people, and I was seeing how they suffered. A parallel to that is: Give them self-esteem. Give them encouragement. Treat them well. Be careful with them. Respect them.
WOMAN 1
The idea of this play is that people can get important information from what we have to say. If we work from our hearts, then the ideas that we have will bring together a really beautiful project. This is good for the whole community. You are going to get so much out of it, also.
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Though some could not read or feed their families, they came to rehearse.
STEVEN HAWKINS [Director, Dramatic Problem Solving]
The kind of theater that I do is really issue-based, and to talk about the issue and show what it is without the solution, so that you get the audience thinking about what they could do, and you create dialogue. So we started a process with the women there to think about coffee and breast cancer. We started looking at what causes people to be in the situation they're there: picking coffee, because it's the only job they can get, because they're poor, and what decisions did they make to lead them to be coffee pickers and seasonal workers, migrants from Nicaragua that are picking coffee and don't have many other options, and they wind up getting sick, because they don't have healthcare. And so we started putting together a play, and it came out of a storytelling process.
WOMAN 2
So it's important that you do a breast exam at least once a month. Breast cancer can be fatal.
STEVEN HAWKINS
Thinking about change and how you can change something is you have to recognize that you have something good, that you are something good, that you have something positive. The first seeds we have to plant is feeling good about yourself. You plant a seed in someone's mind that something else can happen. Because there's all kinds of seeds that are planted. There are seeds of violence that are planted. There are seeds of poverty that are planted. And the same seeds are going to grow if that's all you plant.
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The Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation Women's Group traveled throughout the country performing the play, The Coffee Dance, and providing health, lifestyle, and educational services to over 800 people.
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Illegal immigrant workers continue to be the backbone of the USD$231 million coffee industry.
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They make an average of USD$2 a basket, less than USD$15 a day.
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Seeds of Empowerment is a short film based on a documentary feature called The Coffee Dance.
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[end credits]
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www.thecoffeedance.com