We have been working with the Zelaya family and offering their beautiful coffees since we opened our doors in 2009. The family has been growing coffee in Guatemala for over 100 years. Today they own and manage a number of farms, including Santa Clara in Antigua, which is managed by fourth-generation coffee producer, Ricardo Zelaya.
Ricardo is a dedicated and visionary producer, who cares deeply about the quality of his coffee and the happiness of his staff. He has a loyal and dedicated team; many of his employees have worked on the farm and with the family for generations. In total, the farm provides work for 25 permanent employees year-round and an additional 330 workers during the harvest (including 250 people for picking coffee cherries)!
In recent years, Ricardo and his daughters, Bel and Katia, have implemented several social initiatives to support all their employees, with the objective of raising their standards of living, improving quality of life, and helping them achieve more job satisfaction.
One initiative the Zelayas have implemented is the support of the farm’s female employees by teaching them to make jewellery, sandals and candy, in order to help them build sources of income for the coffee offseason.
In 2011, Bel, who has a degree in Special Education, founded the Santa Clara Scholarship Fund, with the help of her sister Katia. This fund provides financial support for some of the children of the farm’s employees. Many children in Guatemala are forced to stop going to school early because school fees, and associated costs like school uniforms, are unaffordable for their families.
Currently there are 30 student-recipients of the Santa Clara Scholarship fund. These students receive money for tuition fees, uniforms and schoolbooks, as well as the opportunity to participate in weekly workshops that focus on important educational and leadership skills.
In 2019, the Santa Clara Foundation was finally given formal non-profit status. The Zelaya family’s dream is for the project to continue its success, and expand to include all the children whose parents work on the farm, as well as children from surrounding communities.
Market Lane has been contributing to the Santa Clara Scholarship Fund every year since 2014.
Who We Sponsor
We are currently sponsoring five students in primary school through to university with the scholarship fund. The recipients are selected based on financial need and academic performance. Here’s a bit of information about the students we’re sponsoring:
Guadalupe 'Lupita' Alejandra Rompiche
Guadalupe (also known as Lupita) is the daughter of long-time farm administrator, Marco Rompiche. Marco’s family has worked with the Zelayas for three generations, and Marco himself has been with the farm for 25 years. “The Rompiche family is as much a part of Santa Clara as the Zelaya family,” Bel told us.
We’ve sponsored Lupita since 2015, when she was in secondary school. She is now at university, studying education and law. She is in her sixth semester of law studies and in her fourth semester of education. Lupita’s aim is to work in the legal department of the country’s public education system so she can improve the future for the youth in her country. We really admire Lupita’s dedication and hard work.
Cindy Gregoria Yool Gabriel
Cindy’s father, Israel Yool, has been at Santa Clara for nearly two decades. He is Marco Rompiche’s assistant. Cindy’s grandfather also worked at Santa Clara for 20 years.
Cindy is 15 years old and is currently in the last years of high school, called ‘diversificado’ in Guatemala. After finishing school, Cindy told us she wants to continue studying at university to become a veterinarian or forensic investigator. “I enjoy helping animals because I think they are like us and they feel the love that we give them,” Cindy wrote in a letter to us.
Cindy, with her father Israel Yool (left) and Fleur and Jason, founders of Market Lane Coffee.
Luz Esperanza Rompiche
Luz is 11 years old and her mother is Gloria Rompiche (Marco’s cousin), who has been working at Santa Clara for two decades. As a single mother of three, Gloria works very hard to support her children and provide a better life for them.
Luz is in her fifth year of primary school, and according to report cards and her teachers, she is an exemplary student. In a letter to us, Luz wrote about her excellent marks at school. She also told us that she wants to be a doctor and help elderly people “because they are the ones who need the most help”.
Luz, pictured above with a thank you note.
Dimas Andres Quintana
Dimas, 22, is the second of three siblings. His father, Dimas Quintana, has been working at Santa Clara for over a decade, constructing and repairing most of the machinery at the farm’s dry mill.
Dimas is currently studying engineering at Mariano Galvez University. To support himself, he works full-time hours at a call centre and attends classes on the weekend. He is determined and focused, learning English to gain employment at the call centre. Our hope is that our sponsorship means he doesn’t have to work so hard to be able to continue his studies. After university, Dimas hopes to get a job related to technology.
Dimas, 22, is currently studying engineering at university.
Ana Leticia Lol
Ana Leticia is 12 years old and in the fifth grade at primary school. Ana Leticia enjoys school, and wants to be a great teacher one day. When she’s not at school, Ana Leticia likes to help out at home, alongside her three siblings.
Ana Leticia’s father, Catarino Lol, has worked at Santa Clara with his brothers for the past 25 years. Catarino works hard in the coffee fields, and his duties include fertilisation, planting and taking care of the shade trees. Ana Leticia told us that her parents are very grateful for the scholarship.
We're thrilled to be supporting these bright students with their education. We think education is extremely important, for everyone, and we hope we can continue (and increase!) our contribution to the Santa Clara Scholarship Fund for many years to come.
To find out more about the Santa Clara Scholarship Fund, visit the Ricardo Zelaya Coffee website.