Dear Friends of the Polus Center,
I am reaching out to you again this year to ask your support for victims of conflict around the world. Last year your generosity helped us to open the Sir Bobby Charlton Center for Support & Rehabilitation in Amman, Jordan, which provides much needed rehabilitation and trauma services for war wounded Syrian child refugees.
This year we are reaching out to ask you to help us offer hope to coffee farmers in Colombia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who have been injured by landmines and explosive remnants of war. Please consider contributing to the Coffeelands Trust, a fund that provides prosthetic limbs and wheelchairs and helps coffee producers return to their farms or to learn new skills that will enable them to find competitive employment within the coffee industry value chain.
I recall the excitement in 1997 when a delegation from the Polus Center headed to Nicaragua to help landmine victims regain their mobility by providing them with artificial limbs. Although the Polus Center began supporting people with disabilities in the U.S. in 1979, this was our first international outreach to victims of conflict. It was only through sheer collective commitment, determination and willingness to listen carefully to others that within five years we had opened three prosthetic clinics (two in Nicaragua and one in Honduras), established a primary school in El Porvenir, Nicaragua, opened a wheelchair manufacturing program and a café that employed persons who were disabled, started a disability leadership institute, and implemented a project that made the city of Leon more accessible for wheelchair users.
During our work in Nicaragua we discovered the fact that so many of the people impacted by landmines make their livelihoods from coffee. Landmines and explosives have been present in six of the ten top coffee producing countries in the world. These deadly devices not only kill and maim coffee farmers and their families, but have a significant negative impact on coffee production and the quality of coffee.
Since beginning our work in Nicaragua we have helped coffee farming communities throughout Latin America and have recently begun an exciting project in the DRC to help coffee producers with their education and rehabilitation and employment opportunities to help improve livelihoods. We have provided hundreds of people over the years with new artificial limbs so that they may stand up and move forward with their lives. We have witnessed individuals with labels like “disabled” and “amputee” to acquire new titles such as “doctor”, “professor” and “teacher.”
It is that commitment, dedication and passion about our mission that has enabled the Polus Center to expand our critical work throughout Latin America, Central and Southeast Asia and Africa. It seems every year we are invited to share our knowledge and expertise in countries where conflict has left thousands upon thousands with little hope for a better future. Yet despite these conditions, we know from working with war-wounded Syrian child refugees, Colombian coffee farmers caught in the crossfire of a fifty-year civil war, landmine victims in the DRC and many other victims of conflict around the world, that with a little support they can and will help themselves. With your help we can continue rehabilitation and economic opportunity to help landmine survivors become prosthetic technicians, trauma counselors, artists, leaders, teachers, entrepreneurs and valued citizens within their communities.
Again, thank you for your support and belief in this important work. This year we hope you will make a donation that will that will support coffee farmers and their families in Colombia and the DRC, pass this along to your friends who might want to help, and feel free to contact me anytime to explore more about the Polus Center and how you might become involved.
Together we can make a difference in the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable people and counteract the devastating impact of conflict and war.
Sincerely - Michael Lundquist, Executive Director