The shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting employees of Coffee for Peace, a social enterprise managed by Joji Pantoja, a Mennonite Church Canada International Witness worker in the Philippines.
Pantoja, who is CEO of Coffee for Peace, and her management team decided to temporarily close down the Coffee for Peace Café at the end of March, but keep the post-processing farm operational. In her latest newsletter for Mennonite Church Canada, Pantoja says her priority is to think of how workers can sort coffee while under community quarantine, and still “survive, eat and stay healthy.”
“This COVID-19 pandemic casts fear among us,” Pantoja said to her management team during a recent online meeting. “Let us all think on what we could do and still apply justice in our decision-making process.”
While Coffee for Peace has had to cut salaries, staff continue to receive enough money to help them survive economically. The coffee farm remains operational because its three workers can remain physically distant while still carrying out their work.
“Coffee for Peace supports not only its employees but also the peace-building work of PeaceBuilders Community Inc. (PBCI), the Pantojas’ peace-and-reconciliation ministry,” says Jeanette Hanson, director of International Witness for Mennonite Church Canada. “This ministry provides a Jesus-centred presence of peace in their communities. Our support at this critical time will have ripple effects in these communities for generations to come.”
The Pantojas have shared on their blog that their PBCI team is using their time at home to reflect on how they are doing ministry well and what can be improved.
Joji and Dann Pantoja welcome prayers and support from the Mennonite Church Canada nationwide community of faith as they continue to support their employees through the pandemic. They also continue to help communities devastated by the three earthquakes that happened in the area several months ago.
To donate, visit mennonitechurch.ca/peacebuildingphilippines.