“A refugee is someone who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.”
– United Nations Refugee Agency
Refugee crises have made headlines over the past couple of years at a rapid fire rate. Syria’s six-year-long civil war is the story we’re all at least semi-aware of, but there are also refugee crises in Yemen, Central Africa, South Sudan (where a disastrous famine is imminent), and Iraq. People are fleeing war and persecution for safer shores. Once they arrive, the struggle isn’t over — they need jobs, homes, and opportunities.
In order to help, one Berkley company is taking in as many refugees as they can and training them to make coffee. 1951 Coffee Company pulled its name from the 1951 UN convention which created the UNHCR and set out protections and laws to deal with refugees around the world. As a non-profit, the coffee house’s aim is to “promote the well-being of the refugee community in the San Francisco Bay Area by providing job training and employment.”
This seems pretty straight-forward and all-in-all a good thing.
They also want to help remold American’s perception of refugees and asylum seekers by “educating the surrounding community about refugee life and issues.” Which is a tough sell given the current political climate of fear — compounded by a White House that wants to completely end refugee entrance to many of the people who are at the highest risk of death without sanctuary.