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DiBosco Coffee project offers training, job opportunities to the Thai youth

DiBosco

MILAN – DiBosco Coffee, located in Chiang Mai, Thailand, is an initiative launched by Mr. Phaisan, who graduated from Don Bosco Technical School in Bangkok 20 years ago. Since then, Phaisan has focused his life on the three things he loves most—coffee, serving the poor and supporting Don Bosco initiatives. Today, Phaisan is operating DiBosco Coffee in an effort to help youth in need. Peter Kováč, a Salesian past pupil, is the co-founder of the DiBosco Coffee project and engaged in seeing the business grow.

DiBosco Coffee offers short courses that train youth in coffee production and then employs successful graduates in the business. Kováč explained that the business has been growing.

“We currently work with producers in Africa, Central and South America, and Asia. So far, we cooperate with countries including Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Haiti, USA, Thailand, Philippines, East Timor, Brazil, Kenya, Congo, Slovakia, Hungary, UK, Ireland, Malta, Poland and the Czech Republic. Slowly, we are trying to expand our network with producers and customers/partners.”

He added, “It should be emphasized that ours is fair trade, that is to say that we know from whom we buy coffee, what the conditions under which the coffee is grown are, and that there is always an ethical approach.”

Phaisan and Kováč are already thinking long term. Kováč explained, “We want to be able to enter new markets in America and Africa, and we aim to open 1,000 coffee shops in the next 10 years. With a network of this type, we will be able to develop the potential for international cooperation among past pupils and, at the same time, we will be able to spread the knowledge of Don Bosco, the Salesians and the Past Pupils Association. With our coffee, we would like to encourage and bring some energy and joy to dreamers like us.”

Thailand has shown considerable economic growth over the last 20 years, reducing its poverty rate from 21 percent in 2000 to 10.9 percent today, according to the World Bank. Although the country has made strides in reducing poverty, improving nutrition and meeting the basic needs of its residents, inequality is still pervasive.

One of the more marginalized groups in the country is people with disabilities. Men, women and children with disabilities have been cast aside and perceived as incapable of engaging in meaningful work and leading productive lives. Often those with disabilities, particularly those with visual impairments, are kept out of school and denied an education. As a result, their future employment prospects are diminished and the cycle of poverty continues.

Salesian programs across Thailand focus on education and workforce development in partnership with social development services that work to meet the basic needs of youth and their families living in poverty.

Nearly 1,000 students attend each of the Salesian Professional Training Centers in Thailand. These centers mostly focus on students who have performed poorly in more traditional schools or have learning challenges. Those who graduate from the Salesian training courses are typically able to find immediate employment because the programs taught are tailored to meet local demand.