By: Leanne Prescott, Public Engagement Coach, World Vision Canada
In the Dominican Republic, in slums pressed between resorts that play host to thousands of visitors each year, there is a café without tables, without chairs, that you’ll never find on yelp. This café has a welcoming heart, warmer than the Caribbean sun. This café is a woman. I will never forget the day we met, when she taught me about generosity.
Café earned her nickname and reputation for making the best cup of coffee in her community. She made it in her home, with a French press on a gas burner. She purchased the water that was safe for drinking from the back of a truck that drives into her neighborhood every day. The coffee was Dominican coffee from the neighborhood store. She sweetened it with sugar cane sold by children in the streets.
I met Café on a worksite. Her neighbour’s home was being rebuilt after years of flood damage and exposure to the elements. I was part of a team of Canadian students and Dominican youth from a World Vision Community volunteering time and manual labour, helping the family rebuild.
The day I met Café, it was very hot. I was covered in sweat and the dust of cement when she appeared on the jobsite with her daily gift for the workers. This house-build was a community affair, everyone had a role, and Café treated the team to a coffee break. She singled me out as the first to taste the coffee and handed me the pot, insisting I drink from it directly.
I stood in the center of the jobsite, holding the piping hot glass pot with my work gloves, slowly tipping the sweet caffeinated liquid into my mouth while considering how I was breaking all the rules of traditional tea time with my family back in Canada. It was delicious! Almost like the best combination of coffee and caramel. As I tasted the first sip, Café handed out all the cups she owned to the other workers, took back the pot and filled their cups. When she returned the pot back to me with all the coffee that remained I felt honoured and humbled all at once.
Café gave to me in the most beautiful way. She didn’t have the physical strength to help with the build, but she gave her strength—her coffee. She didn’t give because she had extra clean water, coffee, gas and cups, she gave out of what she had. Café didn’t keep the lion’s share of the coffee for herself because she deserved it, instead she gave the first and last sips to me.
Her generosity made an impact on me. It was the kind of generosity that changes both the giver and the receiver. Often we look for ways to give that will impact us the least. We give the extras, but that is short-sighted. Generosity can lift others up and bring people together. Giving from what we have can positively impact ourselves. It will change us all if we let it.
You can read more Coffee Connection stories in the latest Quarterly Mini-Magazine, available exclusively in HungerFree Quarterly Vol. 3: Empower!