She walked into Sharehouse Coffee looking for a caffeinated pick-me-up, but what she found instead was purpose, community, and a vision for the future. That sounds like a pretty good cup of coffee, right? Well, it wasn’t just the coffee (although that probably helped).
Hannah Edington had been thinking a lot about her purchases in the months leading up to that cup of coffee. She couldn’t get the stories and images from sweatshops out of her head, and that gnawing in the pit of her stomach every time she swiped her debit card had become increasingly disheartening. Hannah didn’t know what to do about the way she felt, though.
Until . . .
While Hannah (or any other customer that walks through the door) waits to get a cup of fair-trade coffee at Sharehouse Coffee, she can browse through the variety of fair-trade products sold throughout the shop. Hannah found a pair of shoes from Sseko that day, a Ugandan fashion business established to “generate income for high potential, talented young women to continue on to university.” Finding these shoes and learning about the history of the company led Hannah to do additional research. At the time, Hannah was working on her business degree, and she became captivated by businesses and organizations creating economic opportunities for poor and vulnerable people. In the midst of this research, Hannah found World Orphans.
She traveled to South Africa with World Orphans in 2015, then traveled to Ethiopia this year, hoping to learn more about the World Orphans approach to economic empowerment. While in Ethiopia, Hannah was introduced to caregivers in the economic empowerment program. Four of these strong, smart women have used the resources and knowledge they’ve gained through the program to launch their own businesses selling jewelry, coffee, and produce. Hannah and other Journey Trip participants were able to support these women, not by giving them a handout, but by purchasing their products–the labor of their hands.
And Hannah? She was bursting with excitement to see the hope, the dignity, and the confidence in the eyes of those women.
Hannah is back in the US now, but her excitement for sustainability hasn’t worn off. She works at the coffee shop that changed the course of her life, and she continues to advocate for empowering the least of these. Each quarter, Sharehouse Coffee, a nonprofit, uses their resources and community recognition to point their customers to other nonprofits that are pursuing excellence in areas of economic empowerment, orphan care, and sustainability.
This quarter, thanks to Hannah, Sharehouse Coffee will be telling the World Orphans story. On August 26, Hannah will take to the coffeehouse stage to tell area pastors about her Journey Trip and the work being done in Ethiopia. But, Hannah’s story doesn’t end on the stage of a coffee shop in Washington.
In early 2017, Hannah will pack her bags once more. The luggage will be a little heavier. The dreams will be a little bigger. The excitement will certainly be a little greater.
Hannah has accepted a teaching position with Gibson Youth Academy. She will be working as an English teacher, and hoping to establish roots in the local community in order to offer tutoring, business mentoring, or other knowledge and resources that can continue to empower Ethiopians. She felt burdened to not accept a job that could easily be performed by a local, and was excited when God presented this opportunity.
We're inspired by Hannah's vision, challenged by her love for others, and excited for what her future holds. Please take a moment to leave Hannah your prayers and well wishes in the comments below.