Park City resident donates 10K after seeing "Black Gold" |

Park City resident donates 10K after seeing "Black Gold"

Park City resident Paul Gardner was so moved by a film depicting an impoverished school in Ethiopia that he donated $10,000 to the cause. Photo by Nan Chalat-Noaker/Park Record

A cup of fair trade coffee can help fund an education.

After the world premier of "Black Gold," a documentary about the fair trade coffee industry, local Park City doctor Paul Gardner was inspired to donate $10,000 to a struggling school house in the film.

The school, in Ethiopia, is a one- room hut with a disintegrating chalk board and not enough funding to pay the teacher’s salaries.

During a question-and-answer session after the film’s premier Gardner stood up and asked how much money was needed to help the school. Co-director, Marc Francis, came back with a figure of approximately $10,000.

"You know what? I will write a check for $10,000, and I invite anyone else here who has it in their means to do the same. This film and the people in it are remarkable," Gardner said.

The film’s hero, Tadesse Maskela, works tirelessly to get a fair price for the cooperative’s coffee on the international market. One of his top priorities is to improve quality of life for the farmers, and to help them be more self sufficient.

"I know that world aid is a huge part of the problem. When you keep the Third World on a welfare system nobody feels very good about themselves. Education is an important part of the answer," Gardner said.

The blank check he used for the donation was initially in his wallet to buy carpet for his house.

"I’m a frugal person. I know that I’m getting more bang for my buck buying a school," he said.

Garner plans to put his profession as a licensed psychologist on hold and go to Ethiopia where he hopes to help make improvements on the school. His priority is education and he wants to help other countries in a similar way.

"My goal is to build at least five schools in the world," Gardner said.

He moved to Park City from San Diego, Calif. on an intuitive hunch that coming here would help him pursue his goals in giving back to the world.

"I had faith that if I quit what I was doing and moved to Park City an opportunity would present itself," he said. "My favorite word is serendipity."

Not long after, he found himself at the premiere of "Black Gold" with a blank check in his pocket.

"I just appreciate the way my imagination works and I listen to it," he said.

Co-director of "Black Gold," Nick Francis, was surprised by Gardner’s generosity.

"We were absolutely astonished," he said. "It will be so extremely appreciated."

Francis added he hopes that other people will see the film and be inspired in a similar way to help Maskela and his farmers to realize their dream of becoming more self sufficient.

"We were delighted to receive the check on behalf of Tadesse’s coffee union, because it shows that the message of the film had got through. Ethiopia needs the tools for development and education is the root of that," Francis said.

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