Tor Imports giving back charity. Cigar charities, quite a good number of cigar brands run or support a charity program. And there are a few distributors that either support or started charities as well. They are giving back to the community. Some are open about it, raising awareness while trying to raise funds. Others do it on the low as they are afraid it is seen as marketing.

Ministry of Cigars feels that all the actions of the factories should be highlighted. The cigar industry needs positive stories,. And we need to get the word out to the general public and politicians that there is no other industry that gives back to the community as much as the cigar industry does.

 Tor Tour

Tor Imports is the main importer and distributor for New World Cigars in the United Kingdom. As an importer of cigars Tor Imports also brings retailers to Central America and the Caribbean. To visit farms and factories. And it was on one of these so-called Tor Tours that Tor Imports owner Scott Vines felt he had to give back. In 2017, Vines and a group of British retailers were in Nicaragua. Joya de Nicaragua brought them to a primary school in Esteli, which is run by the charity Fe y Alegria. This Christian organization, translated as Faith and Happiness, runs the school for some of the area’s poorest families.

Fe y Alegria was formed in Latin American in 1960 to help the poorest in society. Help them to get an education and a chance to have a better future. The school is led by the remarkable headmistress, Sor Purificacion Gutierrez. She is a tiny but formidable lady who is achieving remarkable things. She inspired Tor Imports to give back to the Nicaraguan community. A community that is providing the world with so many great cigars. 

Support from the tobacco industry

Since 2014 Joya de Nicaragua provides scholarships to many of the youngsters at the school. The Dutch cigar charity Pronica is also providing scholarships. But is there an ethical dilemma raised by a tobacco company actively fundraising for children? More on Joya de Nicaragua is coming in one of our next specials about cigar charity.

“At first glance, it can seem incorrect, “says Sor Purificacion Gutierrez. “but, by analyzing it, you can justify it and have another perception. Every company has a social responsibility to the well-being of society. Education is the first pillar to achieve a fairer society, working to better the life of a human being. We have to manage and create alliances to solve our expenses. In this alliance with Joya de Nicaragua, the company collaborates directly to provide an education for boys and girls – for them not to give up on education and prepare them for a better future”

The Sewing Room

During the visits to the school, Vines and his team were impressed to see how neat and tidy and well turned out the children were at school. And amazed when they found out the fact that the children had to make their own uniforms in sewing class in advance of their graduation!

The sewing machines and equipment in the room were like something out of the Singers factory in Clydebank, Scotland in the 1960s. Old machinery, frequent malfunctions, and seemingly endless repairs. Vines’ wife Annie, has a passion for sewing, which made this personal. The objective for Tor Imports is to fund the modernization of this room. In September 2020, they were able to achieve this. Tor was able to fund a complete overhaul of the sewing room, with new machines, repairs to existing ‘semi-modern’ machines, and new chairs for the children to use. 

Around the World in 80 Cigars 

In September 2019, Tor became the distributor for “Around the World in 80 Cigars – The Travels of An Epicure”. A great book written by the renowned author and cigar writer Nick Hammond. Nick wrote, “Cinco Decadas – The Rise of the Nicaraguan Cigar” to commemorate Joya de Nicaragua’s 50th Anniversary in 2018. He has been a columnist for Cigar Journal for many years. Hammond also was the inaugural winner of the Spectator Cigar Writer of the Year Award in 2013. He pens cigar and luxury articles for publications around the world and has long been a massive supporter of the UK and global cigar trade.

Nick was one of the travellers on that Tor-Tour of Nicaragua. A trip where he fell in love with the country, the people, and the culture. It was on his visit to the Belen Primary School in Esteli in 2017 that he made a pledge. If his book ever came to fruition, he would donate a percentage of the profits back to Fe y Alegria. A man of his word, Nick is donating ten percent of his profits from “Around the World In 80 Cigars – The Travels Of An Epicure” back to Fe y Alegria. Tor has also agreed to donate £1 for every copy sold to retailers and wholesalers across the world.

In an email request from Ministry of Cigars, Vines also makes reference to many other activities in association with UK retailers that Tor have discretely supported, including a sizeable donation of Tor profits in November to support the humanitarian crisis caused by Hurricanes Eta and Iota in Honduras and Nicaragua last year. He promises to continue to raise funds to give back to Nicaragua. If you want to hear Vines and Hammond talk about the sewing room and their travels to Nicaragua, listen to the Around the world in 80 cigars podcast.

header photo by Kat Yukawa on Unsplash, all other photos kindly provided by Tor Imports

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