Berkeley Coffeehouse a Full-Fledged Refugee Supporter - NBC Bay Area
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Berkeley Coffeehouse a Full-Fledged Refugee Supporter

"If I'm wearing this scarf, that doesn't mean I'm different than you," one barista says

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    It's been an emotional time for 18-year-old Batool Rawoas, a Syrian refugee who is one of eight immigrants working at 1951 Coffee, a new Berkeley coffeehouse aimed at supporting Bay Area refugees. Jodi Hernandez reports. (Published Monday, Jan. 30, 2017)

    It's been an emotional time for 18-year-old Batool Rawoas, a Syrian refugee who is one of eight immigrants working at 1951 Coffee Co., a Berkeley coffeehouse aimed at supporting Bay Area refugees.

    "I didn't learn only how to make coffee, but I'm learning how to communicate better with these people," Rawoas said. "I'm learning more about this culture, even more English."

    According to its website, the coffeehouse is a nonprofit specialty coffee organization seeking to promote the well-being of the refugee community by providing job training and employment to refugees and asylees while educating the surrounding community about refugee life and issues.

    Rawoas is deeply troubled about the crackdown on Muslim immigration. President Donald Trump's executive order has halted refugees from her war-torn homeland from entering the U.S. indefinitely.

    "We are feeling really sad and afraid at the same time," she said. "We are just normal humans. If I'm wearing this scarf, that doesn't mean I'm different than you."

    Rawoas's uncle was scheduled to join her parents and three siblings in California this month after passing rigorous background checks. But now that's on hold. With the support of her new job, she's trying to stay positive.

    "We came here to start a new life again," she said. "We just want to improve our life; we don't want to hurt anyone or make trouble for anyone."

    The coffeehouse, at 2410 Channing Way in Berkeley, collects donations through Crowdrise for its Raise the Bar for Refugees campaign. It has raised more than $31,000 as of Monday, according to its website.

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