I am deeply heart-warmed by the empowering and transformative work of Refuge Coffee. In the heart of Clarkston, GA, a suburb of Atlanta which New York Times magazine called, “the most diverse square mile in America,” and others have aptly referred to as the "Ellis Island of the South” , is the haven for thousands of refugees from across the globe and also the home of Refuge Coffee.
The coffee truck, which started just last year in 2015, supplies not only delicious coffee to an area in which there was no coffee shop to socialize, meet new neighbours in one’s community, or simply enjoy a sublime cup of caffeine, but additionally provides jobs--that pay a living wage--and English language classes to the refugees it employs. Today Refuge Coffee has three baristas with the hope of hiring more once they make their matching grant of $50,000 for a second truck.
Last night, as part of their fundraising campaign, I got to attend an event repleat with savory and sweet samplings served up by the fabulous Chef Russ and his wife, Paige, of Yummy Street who create sumptuous in-home dining experiences throughout Atlanta; bid on something I am pretty sure I won and am extremely excited about: a traditional Ethiopian coffee ritual to be hosted in my home; and hear the rich, eye-opening stories of the baristas working at Refuge Coffee.
I was particularly struck by the food for thought shared by Leon Shombana, a former history professor who had to flee his home in the Democratic Republic of Congo three years ago, expressing the breadth of impact his job with Refuge Coffee had made on his life. I leave you with it now for the percolation of your own thoughts, 'America is the land of the free... But you are not yet free until you can learn and speak. Until you can speak English. And I am free now.’
To learn more about where you can get a good cup of joe, hang out with locals—from near and far, hear their inspiring stories, and support living-wage jobs with English language learning check out Refuge Coffee’s website: http://refugecoffeeco.com
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