The original letter was e mailed to the White House on August 4th, 2016
Dear Mr President,
For your birthday, CAFÉ FOR CHANGE has created together with ItiMa, The Itinerant Museum of Art, a special Barack For Change mug with artwork by Daniel Völker. We hope you like it. Daniel used 3,600 US postage stamps.
We wish you a happy birthday, and we hope that you and Mrs Obama can help coffee, tea and chocolate lovers end poverty and create a middle class in the rural communities that produce coffee, chai and cacao. It is easy, if WeShare at least 10CentsPerCup with them.
WeShare is our plan for a transparent shared value system that can align consumers in developed nations with compensation of at least 10CentsPerCup going to the struggling farmers and farm workers who produce for all of us. Their hard work and sacrifice generates tens of billions of dollars in profits, added value and taxes every year for companies and governments in developed nations. Sadly, most of the farm workers and their families live in poverty and millions of them in extreme poverty. This is unacceptable.
You can witness the cruel human cost of coffee in your beloved Kenya and in most countries in the coffee belt, but as you know well tea and cacao are also exploitative industries with insignificant shared value for farmers and even less for farm workers and their families.
Today there is hunger, malnutrition and unacceptable levels of infant mortality in the coffee, tea and cacao lands. In the Ivory Coast, the world's leading producer of cacao, a baby girl has a higher probability of dying before reaching age one than ever graduating from secondary school.
We have to change that by bringing together the leaders of the industry with top government officials, creating a transparent shared value system that changes the exploitative sides of the industry and doesn't depend on development aid.
The trouble is that less than one cent per cup of coffee, tea and chocolate drunk at the White House, and indeed in all US Government institutions, helps reduce poverty in the rural communities that produce them. The premium for farmers in what some dare to call "Fairtrade" is less than 1/3 of a cent per cup, an insignificant amount if the goal is to be fair and ethical.
We at CAFE FOR CHANGE believe you have a "Lincoln problem". President Lincoln was fighting to abolish slavery while the White House, where he lived, and the US Government over which he presided, were buying products made by slaves.
The Obama Administration is committed to fast-track the end of poverty and to supporting the SDGs but the purchasing power of the White House and of the USG help perpetuate injustice, and this is true not only for coffee, chai and cacao. The White House and the USG should audit its supply chain and align its procurement and purchasing power with its commitment to equality and respect for the Human Rights of all people on the planet. This initiative should be also taken by all OECD nations.
To lead by example you and the White House can afford 10CentsPerCup as an unequivocal act of support for the Sustainable Development Goals. Please read: Open Letter to Ban Ki Moon and discuss it with him, Secretary Kerry, Ms Jarrett and Ambassador Power.
With 10CentsPerCup farmers and farm workers would have a living wage. Every girl and boy in the coffee, chai and cacao lands would have drinking water, healthcare, school meals and access to a secondary school. That would be CHANGE THEY CAN BELIEVE IN.
We look forward to your comments and to your 10CentsPerCup.