What is the Freedom Café?
The Freedom Cafe of Durham is a non-profit specialty café dedicated to ending human trafficking and the commercial exploitation of all people. The café provides a collaborative space that invites the local community to take ownership and action toward a slave-free world. Through presentations, discussion groups and community events, we seek to educate local citizens about the complexities of the issue and its root causes, the actions necessary for preventing it, and ways to support reputable organizations working to bring about a world where all people are free.
At The Café we serve ethically sourced drinks, baked goods and snacks to our guests as a way of building greater awareness and engagement in the movement to end human trafficking. Our café counter provides a simple entry point for individuals to support the creation of a traffic-free world beginning one ethically sourced mug at a time. All items are served for a suggested donation based on what one might pay at any other coffee shop and 100% of proceeds support efforts to end human trafficking.
The idea for The Freedom Café began to develop following a trip our Program Director, Bryan Bessette, took with a student group to Nepal, where they had the opportunity to be a part of a team serving survivors of bonded slavery. During the process of raising funds and participating in the project, they discovered that along with being a pressing social issue, the fight against human trafficking is also extremely under resourced and underfunded. At the same time, the team saw potential in how much the Durham and UNH community wants to be a part of bringing beneficial change into the world. The truth is that many times we are affected by an issue, but don’t know what to do about it, so they decided to create a simple pathway for people to get involved.
The vision of The Café grew and developed through a number of significant conversations and the work of a diverse team of dedicated people. For example, the name “The Freedom Café” was adopted after an encounter with Dan Johnson, who was in the process of creating a similar project in the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus. Dan was kind enough to share the name with us as well as the logo and other materials he had already created. The materialization of the café space was made possible due to the generous donation of equipment and furniture by Marian Noronha, local businessman and owner of the building where the café is located, allowing us to open for business for the first time on February 6th, 2013.
- The Freedom Café moves individuals from disconnection to empowerment by providing a consistent and progressive way to learn and be involved in the process of ending human trafficking. Through our day to day operations, programing, and New England GIFT Box campaigns we engage over 5000 community members each year, building a movement of informed consumers and educated advocates participating in the process of change.
- The Freedom Café has a vibrant volunteer program that connects individuals from a diverse range of age and expertise. Over 75 individuals, including 50 high school and college students, are equipped each year to be advocates. Each year, students compete for internship positions in volunteer management, finance/business management, communications/social media, outreach and research.
- The Freedom Café is strategically located at the edge of the University of New Hampshire Campus which enables us to place the mission to end human trafficking before future leaders who will carry the mission forward in the many career paths needed to ensure a traffick-free world. These leaders become advocates for necessary education and system changes in areas of legislation, business development and supply chain management, healthcare, law enforcement, social services, etc.
- The Freedom Café is known as a local activist arts center with several installations, performances, and readings a year. Close ties with UNH’s literary, drama, and visual arts programs bring in a consistent group of volunteers motivated to offer artistic expression on the issue of human trafficking and related social problems.
- The Freedom Café is a leader in combating human trafficking in the greater NH Region. The Café has strong ties to other organizations in the region, including participation as a member of The NH Human Trafficking Collaborative Task Force, and partners with these organizations to provide up to date educational programming and financial support through our annual grant program.
- The Café's influence is seen through the education it provides to those in the UNH/greater NH Region, the impact of its volunteers, some of whom have chosen to dedicate their professional careers to end human trafficking, and the financial contributions it makes to top-notch organizations working around the globe to end human trafficking.
- We strive to be experts in our café products and the cause of working to end human trafficking and we invite others into the same knowledge.
- Ethical sourcing is fundamentally important to us. The Freedom Café works diligently to trace our products to their source so that we can ensure the ethical treatment of the people, animals, and natural resources involved it their production.
- The Freedom Café seeks to partner with credible organizations that do effective and transformative work to prevent the situations where human trafficking and commercial exploitation take place, bring about change where human trafficking occurs, and support trafficking survivors. We also want to connect local companies, groups, and individuals in our community because we believe that the best results are created through collaborative, discussion and action.
- Through education, service opportunities, and networking connections The Freedom Café seeks to empower all people towards social action against human trafficking. We do this by creating a continuous pathway of involvement. From a person’s first visit to the café, to engaging as a volunteer, to becoming an advocate for the cause, The Freedom Cafe guides individuals through this journey. The café counter operates through name-your-price donations. We believe this empowers our guests to be more than just consumers, but also a part of the anti-trafficking community.
- We are committed to being open and transparent about our finances and organizational practices. We are always looking for more efficient, and more conscientious ways to operate, so openness to new practices and perspectives is always encouraged.
- Our staff is committed to bringing warmth and hospitality to all of our guests and volunteers. We will serve all people regardless of their donation. As a community space, we welcome guests to bring outside food into the café. We seek to make the café a comfortable place where guests can respectfully study, spend time with friends, play games and making music.
Organic and Ethical Sourcing
Openness and Transparency