Kitti Murray and her husband moved to the community of Clarkston, Georgia with the intention of being good neighbours in the community described as “the most diverse square mile in the world.”
Clarkston has a rich blend of African, Asian, Arab, and American cultures, thanks to the 70,000 resettled refugees in the area.
Murray and her husband arrived without an agenda—just the desire to befriend a diverse community that also happened to have a per-capita income level below the poverty line and more than twice the state average for joblessness.
It didn’t take long for Kitti to fall in love with her neighbours. “When you begin to fall in love with people, you also begin to really care about what hurts them. And so the statistics about Clarkston became faces and friends.”
“Neighbouring for us got really intense. And before long, an agenda evolved for me. And that agenda is Refuge Coffee Co.
82% of refugee households in Georgia are made up of working families who are paying their own expenses within six months of arrival. That's among the highest early self-sufficiency rates in the country. Murray knows that her neighbours are resilient, but she also knows that many struggle in poverty.
“The question you have to ask is ‘what does a $4 latte have to do with the needs of a community like ours?’ Here’s the short answer to that question: there are many organizations here that help refugees survive the first few months when they get here—the transition from their country to ours. But we believe that no human being should be stuck in survival mode forever… Our goal is to move refugees from survival to livelihood. From barely making it, to making a life.”
From that goal came a long-term plan to work with the local community of resettled refugees to change lives through a training and mentorship programme, coffee truck, sustainable sourcing, and eventually a bricks and mortar shop and roaster.
“Our goal is to move refugees from survival to livelihood. From barely making it, to making a life.”
With this goal in mind, The Refuge Coffee Co. is sharing half of the proceeds from their ‘Shop Refuge’ sale this Friday with the folks we serve here. They are helping Atlanta-area refugees by provide jobs and job training while they help families here in Iraq with emergency relief aid so they don’t become refugees.
We share the same goal as Kitti’s team: to stand with our neighbours while they are in survival mode, to empower families, and to equip them to move from survival to livelihood.