As you know, on this journey of mine we are highlighting everyday people who make a difference.
They are out there; we just don't hear about them ... like Nicholas, in Las Minitas, Nicaragua. Through The Friends Project, which I created, we are helping residents accomplish goals, and making our own good news by spreading theirs.
Shine the light. Shine the light.
Nicholas Martinez Pitchardo
A 20-year coffee farmer, Nicholas is the founder of the Manuel Lopez Cafe Cooperativa.
"I knew we would be better to sell in an organized way. you can get a better price by working together," he says.
For cooperative members, this means sharing knowledge, experience, profits and resources to strengthen crops and product and the community of Ocotal.
At the beginning, Nicholas completed an exchange in another region, Matagalpa, with members of a coffee cooperative to gain insight into how to best run their own new cooperative.
He is proud of the programs the cooperative have implemented, their progress and the recent customer base in the United States who choose their high-quality, organic beans. Last year, a high-end coffee distributor bought 12,000 pounds of their coffee - direct.
Last year, Nicholas grew 3000 pounds of coffee. Getting it ready for export is a long process - 12 hours of work alone from picking a ripe bean to ready it for roasting. His family and helpers from the community work some days 4 a.m. to 6p.m. in harvest season, as everything is hand-tended.
He sees the difference the coffee, tourism and basket-making cooperatives makes for families, including spurring completion of an elementary and a preschool and road improvements.
"It makes me proud of the community," says Nicholas. "I am old now but my chilrdren and my grand children will enjoy the benefits of living here. What we're doing here will help future generations."