My name is Dunia Muhindo Moise. “Dunia” means “world” in Swahili, but funny enough my world was limited to DRC until very recently. I began the journey to becoming a Q Grader.
As many may already know, the journey is long and arduous, not so much on the physical movement for most, but more the difficulty in the mental and emotional upheaval in getting this tough and coveted international qualification that literally sets you apart both as an individual as well as a professional in the coffee world. Well for some of us, it was a mixture of all. To top it up, DRC is a French speaking nation, so we needed to overcome the challenge of the language barrier, as the course was being delivered in English. Luckily we also speak Swahili and Kenya has it as a national language.
We were informed about the Q Grader course to be held in Nairobi Kenya, about 10 days to the event. Previously we had had very few trainers coming from all over the world to teach us about coffee, a commodity that DRC is so rich in, in addition to the other natural endowments of minerals and other resources. But as many know, this can be a blessing as well as a curse. DRC has been experiencing civil strive for several years which has made it difficult to access quality services in all sectors, not excluding my sector, coffee. The Q Grader course was something I had heard about, but it looked like an unachievable dream, until we got the call from Eastern Congo Initiative.
5 of us were selected to travel to Kenya to try our hand at this course. Of the 5 of us that were selected, only 3 of us eventually managed to get logistically organized and mobilized to get to Nairobi in time. My colleague Ismael from a place known as Kinyezire, myself from a place known as Minova and Linda from Bukavu.
We all journeyed by almost all means of transport known to man. I met with my colleague Ismael at a place called Minova. We got on a motor bike for 54 kilometres and rode for approximately 2 hours. The roads are inaccessible hence the only way to maneuver is by motor bike. Getting to Goma on the border of DRC and Rwanda, we had to take another bike together to take us over to Gisenyi, a border with the neighbouring country Rwanda. This took us 30 minutes and the tedious immigration process but afterwards we got on a long distance bus to Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda. The bus ride was smooth, but due to the hilly nature of Rwanda, the land of 1,000 hills, it is quite winded and can stir up everything you have eaten and digested in previous days. We arrived in Kigali in the evening and had to spend the night at a hotel / lodge. The following day we made our way to the Kigali International Airport and took the flight to Nairobi which took us 1 and a quarter hours.
On arrival Nairobi, we hoped to be received by the hotel, but unfortunately our time of arrival had not been communicated. We called a fellow countryman based in Nairobi and he was courteous enough to call the number on the emails which happened to be of our soon to be Instructor, Ms. Mbula Musau. He managed to talk to her and informed her that we had proceeded to the hotel mentioned in the communication. We settled at the hotel and our instructor made arrangements to ensure our facilitated stay and movement to and from the training venue.
The next 6 days were overwhelming to say the least. However the format and instruction was enabling. By the end of the 3rd day we felt ready to take on the 20 exams required to get the qualification. One after another I tackled them, and by the end of it I was overjoyed to learn that I had been successful on my first attempt! I really thank my instructor for going out of her way to facilitate and encourage us to attain the Q Grader qualification that I had crossed lakes, mountains, skies and valleys for. At least even if the return journey was similar, the biggest mental and emotional barriers had been conquered. And just like that, Dunia became the first ever Q Grader from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)!
I plan to apply the skills I learnt to my personal career development, my organization and my country as a whole. What I learnt about coffee in the one week I was in Kenya will go a long way to getting my fellow youth to embrace this gift we give to the world and make the very best out of it.
Thank you Eastern Congo Initiative, Muungano Cooperative, Coffee Quality Institute and Utake Coffee Limited. Indeed, it takes not only a village but the whole entire Dunia.