I’m Yevheniia, and not too long ago, I joined the Blue Bear Coffee Company team.
My journey to this job was accidental. I had been visiting for a while, enjoying the nice and friendly vibe and sipping on delicious El Salvadorian coffee. The place felt different from others in town. I had never seen anyone happier behind a coffee machine than the guy at Blue Bear. That’s how I met Bryn.
Despite the company’s name, I wondered when I would see a bear latte art on the top of my flat white. We joked about it every time and Bryn promised to learn this pattern.
A couple of weeks passed, and I saw many beautiful rosettas and tulips on my coffee, but no bear. I asked again, and after a few jokes, I offered to show him how to do it. He looked at me suspiciously but let me behind the bar with a smile. My hands were shaking – oh god – I cannot mess it up. But I didn’t. His first reaction was, ‘You never told me you were a barista!?’
Moments later, I had a new job. No CV or interview, just skills, and pure talent. I felt like a superhero. I still do.
Then, I learned that the main idea of this business is charity. And that’s something different indeed! My first task was to research and read the company’s story.
On the sign outside the cafe, it uses this mysterious word ‘Justice.’ When I found out what it’s all about, it felt like I was back on the Polish border nearly two years ago.
Reporters with massive cameras, volunteers, drivers, and buses to any destination – I was just happy to be outside, with a little fresh air, the smell of smoke, and green grass under my shoes. I had my cigarette, hiding behind the bins from the cameras, shocked by the kindness.
Shelters were everywhere offering sanitary products, medicines, hot food from the barbecue, catering vans, pet food, caring cages, dog leads, baby-care stuff, clothes – anything you can imagine. Everything was free, take whatever and as much as you need.
All those people, from everywhere in the world, just wanted to help. I wanted to say thank you, run away back home, scream about the feeling under my skin when the air alarm goes off, press my cat to my chest, and cry. I wanted to be on the side that was helping, not the side receiving help. I wanted to become a part of that giant machine that would help us win the war and I was ready to make any sacrifice. Just not to be there, feeling like I didn’t deserve it. Some people had it far worse.
My world was hanging upside down, crushing into pieces. I was choking on my anger, feeling powerless and very small.I just wanted to be useful.
I’m from Ukraine, and I was once a person desperate for help, and struggling to accept it.
Ignorance is our way of feeling safer, but it’s only an illusion.
We live in this weird time when we are sure that all the worst stuff is in the past. Slavery doesn’t exist anymore; genocide is over since World War 2; nobody would bomb kids’ playing grounds and hospitals. I can tell you, it’s all still out there; evil has many faces and always the same consequence – destroyed lives and suffering. And closing your eyes to the suffering – doesn’t make it disappear.
Kindness isn’t a panacea, but understanding is. Awareness is.
We always look out for those people who are strong enough to stand up to injustice; to say that something is wrong, and we gotta find a different way. Wherever they give their opinions: on the stage, on the street, or just in a cafe – every word is powerful, and it’s spread into your heart by being willing to stand up and be brave.
Those people never close their eyes to the suffering. It’s hard, but for them, ignoring is even harder.
I’m proud to work for a company with such a purpose – to raise awareness and fight modern slavery. And I’m glad that my barista skills can help. All those bears and other funny drawings on the top of someone’s coffee make people curious, they ask about the story, talk, share, and finally remember that some people out there need help. And that those kids in the Dominican Republic don’t have the chance to scream about it, don’t have those reporters that will show the truth to the whole world, and volunteers that will be there when it’s so needed.
They are just kids who are going through so much, that most adults wouldn’t understand.
I chose to be their voice, reporter, and volunteer, and I want to thank you for standing on the same side. To be brave enough – to not close your eyes.
Because nothing in this world costs more than freedom.
With best wishes,