Coffee partnership funds clean water overseas

A cup of coffee from GDub Java now provides more than just a caffeine rush.

One cup of Coffee for Water’s Haitian coffee also provides 25 liters of clean water to a child in Haiti as part of the Coffee for Water program GW joined this fall.

“The idea is to expand and build a sustainable partnership with the University and students around water and around development,” CEO of Coffee for Water Jahan Tavangar said.

Tavangar, a GW parent with a Ph.D in water resources engineering, developed the idea for the organization while on a relief trip to Haiti following the January 2010 earthquake.

He said he realized clean water was a critical need for those in Haiti, and installed a water purification system at the school where he was staying.

“I made a commitment to providing clean water particularly for children, and have been back four times since my first trip,” he said.

An entrepreneur, Tavangar decided to sell Haitian coffee and invest the profits in water purification systems.

“It’s leveraging what they have for what they need; using coffee to provide water,” he said.

Coffee for Water has generated more than 33 million liters of clean water at five active projects in Haiti so far.

GW earned the equivalent of 6,250 liters of clean water in the last two weeks through coffee sales at GDub Java. The bookstore will also begin selling Coffee for Water’s ground coffee soon.

The mission incorporates philanthropy to the University’s GWater Plan, sustainability project facilitator Sophie Waskow said.

“Here in D.C., we have access to clean drinking water straight from our tap; in many parts of the world, individuals do not have this basic right,” she said. “GW is committed to creating systems that are healthy and thriving for all, and helping to raise awareness about global water issues.”

Director of Campus Support Services Nancy Haaga echoed Waskow’s enthusiasm for the partnership with Coffee for Water.

“We thought it would be a great opportunity for students to use their buying power when purchasing coffee to be able to support the amazing work that Coffee for Water is doing to provide safe, clean drinking water for people in Haiti,” Haaga said.

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