Updated: Apr 26, 2020
There is something about coffee that I just love. It’s a warm comfort, a chance to sit alone and relax. It’s welcoming, getting a small group of friends together to catch up or regroup. And in Colombia, that simple offer of coffee was an invitation to be a friend.
Every morning we ate breakfast at 6:30, starting our day surrounded by friends new and old. The kind hostess at the hotel became a familiar face as she greeted us each morning with coffee as we helped ourselves to the buffet and settled at the beautifully set tables.
After breakfast, the team loaded into a bus. We’d pass a photo of the driver’s young son as we climbed into bright teal seats. Looking out the window, you’d see colors seemingly dance across the skyline. Brilliant blues, teals, pinks, and oranges welcomed us into Ciudad Bolivar, as though the city itself was excited to see us.
In previous volunteering opportunities, I personally had little experience with the communities where my team had been working. We’d stay mainly in one part of town, or one compound, and work with kids and, in most cases, send them home at the end of the day.
Partnering with Vahum was different; the families and community were an integral part of SOAR Bogota. Every day, the parents escorted us throughout the neighborhood and joined in activities. Some parents brought their babies to meet us, too. Families opened their homes to us to host crafts and science experiments. And every day, we were offered coffee. The mothers would brew the coffee in pots on the stove, asking how much milk and sugar we liked. Their level of care revealed their hearts, how grateful to have us be there with their children. It was so dignifying, it deepened my understanding of generosity.
If someone chooses to volunteer, they are not the only ones with something to offer. Every person has a gift, and each of us have a significance and a role that holds power. No matter who you are, what is within your capacity, you are enough and the world needs you. If you, my friend, want to volunteer in any capacity, seeds will be planted. You will impact and be impacted by the people you meet. If there is one thing I’ve learned, no kindness is too small. Especially not an invitation for coffee.