Looking for a new place to get coffee around campus? Freedom Cafe might just be the perfect place! Freedom not only has great coffee, but also is a donation based Cafe. Profits from Freedom Cafe go to a charity working to end human trafficking. Imagine that you can take part in the fight to end human trafficking with your simple purchase of a coffee at Freedom Cafe right here on campus! I sat down for an interview with owner, Dan Johnson, to learn more about Freedom and its worthy cause.
HC: What is Human Trafficking?
DJ: So human trafficking has a long definition, but many break it down to ‘the exploitation of vulnerability’. It is found in many areas of slavery. These areas are generally forced labor and sex. The word ‘forced’ is broad here. Victims are not always ‘forced’ by their trafficker, because they (the trafficker) have exploited their vulnerability to the point where they are ‘forced’ to willingly comply. One of the biggest difficulties in reporting trafficking is having to understand the process someone went through that lead to their ‘work’. They are often brainwashed, or so broken that they have no self worth, and would deny being victimized.
HC:Why do you Believe it is a Cause Worth Fighting For?
DJ: The reason I believe it’s a cause worth fighting for, is because I believe that everyone has infinite value. People are not property. One of my goals with the Freedom Cafe is to create a culture of others-focused students here at UMass who want to live their lives for the benefit of others. I think as humans, we naturally gravitate toward meeting our own needs first, but often we create materialistic lives that simply need more for ourselves. I know this has been true for me anyway.
HC: Why did you start Freedom Cafe and how did the idea for it come about?
DJ: The Freedom Cafe came out of an event we did in JQA in Southwest, where we served coffee, had an open mic, for the purpose of raising awareness about human trafficking and raise money. At the end of the event, we felt good that we raised $100 but also realized that personally, our faith compels us higher. We asked ourselves, “what if we did something like this every day”. And how would something like this impact our students (were were leaders of a Christian RSO at the time called UMass Chi Alpha). A few years later, we launched the Freedom Cafe.
HC: Are you planning on expanding around campus?
DJ: We are wanting to expand in south campus, but we are working on building up our volunteer ranks and training process before doing that. We already have a location, but need the help.
HC: Where do the donations from Freedom Cafe go towards?
DJ: Our funds are designated to go to end human trafficking by building vocational centers in India for rescued victims and at risk youth. The reason we are focusing on this area is because we are not in the position to broadly impact this issue with our finances. Other freedom cafes have similar but different focuses. Also, we are dedicated to the success of the centers we help start, so we may not start another until the previous centers are successful. Our goal is to start a new one every 1 or 2 years.
HC: If someone is interested in volunteering for Freedom Cafe what should they do?
DJ: If someone wants to volunteer, they can go to endtrade.org/volunteer. We are also looking for interns, and have relationships with UMass that can aid in them being able to get class credit for volunteering. They can learn about this at endtrade.org/awards.